Tumbledown Dick

Last week I showed how British porcelain makers imitated Chinese designs, and this week I have another beautiful example of this. The design on this cheerful Spode plate from about 1824 is called "Tumbledown Dick". It is a famous design of a bird hanging in beautiful peony flowers on a ground that is called "cracked ice". So why "Tumbledown Dick?" There are various theories but the most likely one is that it was inspired by the word "dicky bird", probably a small bird such as a tit. The word was popularised by an old English nursery rhyme about Simple Simon. Simple Simon rhymes tell the adventures of a rather dim child who has all kinds of misadventures; the rhymes are funny and serve as a s

Boy at the Door

In these last few weeks quite a few pieces found their way to me that were made in England in the late 18th or early 19th Century, but had been inspired by Oriental porcelain. Here I am showing a very wonderful "true trio" with the famous "Boy at the Door" pattern, made by Miles Mason around 1805. A true trio is how cups and saucers were sold in the late 18th and early 19th Century: as you would never drink tea and coffee at the same time, why invest in an extra saucer? So the teacup and coffee cup share the same saucer. Miles Mason was one of the early ones of the second wave of British porcelain makers, alongside Spode and others. Mason was a prominent porcelain retailer in London at the t

Back to Simplicity

This week I have brought out a series of items in simple designs - perhaps it is the lockdown that has inspired me to focus on simplicity. Even though I dearly miss seeing my family, the news brings endless sadness and at times I feel cabin fever, this is also a time of contemplation and appreciation of the simple things in life. So let's focus today on this adorable little creamware demitasse cup from the 1870s in the Aesthetic Movement style. There is much confusion about what the Aesthetic Movement was - that is because it was different things to different forms of art. Essentially, it was a rebellion of artists and decorators against the pompous Victorian style as shown at the great exhi

Spring flowers

It is spring here in this part of the world! And after a long winter of perpetual greyness, it is an important, if not life saving season for us 🌞. This year, it is strange because we are all limited in our movements - but every minute spent outside is guaranteed to lift you up because of the wonderful flowers everywhere. Which brings me to the topic of this week: the wonderful flowers painted by Thomas Dixon. I never knew about Thomas Dixon until I was lucky enough to be able to purchase a large collection of Coalport plates, which I have slowly been working my way through in the last year or so. Again and again I came across a style that became familiar, and that I started to be able to d

Lost in translation

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will have seen what I wrote about a Thomas Rose / Coalport saucer the other day. It was about a saucer with a wonderful strange smiling dragon on it. Today I have a similar treasure, and just as rare: an adorable "Crazy Cow" pattern teacup and saucer. The Crazy Cow pattern was also an imitation of an original Chinese design with a dragon, or perhaps a phoenix. Chinese dragons and phoenixes are not the scary malignant creatures they are to the West: they bring good luck, wisdom, wise judgment and many more virtues. You often see a dragon chasing a pearl - as the only true form of power is wisdom of course. Western painters didn't know this; there was no

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