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This is a striking square serving dish made by Chamberlains in Worcester around 1805. The dish bears the Fine Old Japan pattern, often called the Nelson pattern.


Robert Chamberlain started out working at the famous Worcester Porcelain Company in the 18th Century. He started his own porcelain company in 1791, initially mainly decorating other factories' blanks, but then increasingly producing his own distinctive hard-paste porcelain. The company became very successful, but ultimately couldn't compete with the Worcester (then called Barr & Flight) factory and merged with them in 1840.


This dish is heavily potted and charmingly asymmetrical; obviously something went wrong in the kiln, but the dish is still beautiful and perfect for use. It is potted in the beautiful greyish hard paste porcelain that Chamberlain used in those days, before they adopted bone china. The decoration is a beautiful example of the Regency "Japan" style from the early 19th Century; the gloriously colourful and intriguing pattern is one of the many "Japan" patterns that came out around that time and was called the "Fine Old Japan" pattern from 1802. Admiral Nelson ordered an entire service in the pattern (but with the additions of his own crests) and therefore it is often called the "Nelson" pattern. 


In the central image is a beautiful vase with flowers stood on a floor with psychedelic-looking circles. In the rim are several scenes with flowers, interspersed with panels of red and gilt Japanese kamons or stylised flowers. In one of the large panels a pink lion is hiding, and in another two tall teal-coloured ibises.


The dish is unmarked except an engraved 5 that probably is the shape number, but we know that this is Chamberlains because of the pattern and the quality of the porcelain. The pattern number is 240, although not marked.


CONDITION REPORT The dish is in perfect antique condition without any damage, repairs or crazing and only some wear as visible in the pictures.


Antique British porcelain is never perfect. Kilns were fired on coal in the 1800s, and this meant that china from that period can have some firing specks from flying particles. British makers were also known for their experimentation, and sometimes this resulted in technically imperfect results. Due to the shrinkage in the kiln, items can have small firing lines or develop crazing over time, which should not be seen as damage but as an imperfection of the maker's recipes, probably unknown at the time of making. Items have often been used for many years and can have normal signs of wear, and gilt can have signs of slight disintegration even if never handled. I will reflect any damage, repairs, obvious stress marks, crazing or heavy wear in the item description but some minor scratches, nicks, stains and gilt disintegration can be normal for vintage items and need to be taken into account.


There is widespread confusion on the internet about the difference between chips and nicks, or hairlines and cracks. I will reflect any damage as truthfully as I can, i.e. a nick is a tiny bit of damage smaller than 1mm and a chip is something you can easily see with the eye; a glazing line is a break in the glazing only; hairline is extremely tight and/or superficial and not picked up by the finger; and a crack is obvious both to the eye and the finger. Etcetera - I try to be as accurate as I can and please feel free to ask questions or request more detailed pictures!


DIMENSIONS 21.5cm (8.5") X 22cm (8.75"); 4cm (1.5") high.

Chamberlains Worcester dish, Nelson or Fine Old Japan pattern, ca 1805



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