This is a stunning part dessert service made by Chamberlains Worcester in about 1815. The service consists of 12 deep plates and two large oval serving dishes. The items are decorated with a deep orange ground with "vermicelli" gilding and sublime paintings in the central reserves attributed to Humphrey Chamberlain.


The Chamberlain factory was founded in the 1780s by Robert Chamberlain, who was responsible for the decoration department in the famous Worcester pottery during the Dr Wall period. He set up his own factory with his son Humphrey, initially buying up stock from Turner's Caughley factory for decoration, but then around 1794 starting to produce their own porcelain. By the year 1800 they had built up a strong reputation, producing wonderful tea and dinner ware for the British and European nobility and becoming a mighty competitor of both the Worcester/Flight & Barr and Grainger factories. In the 1840s the factory merged back with Worcester, which later also bought Grainger and was formed into the later Royal Worcester. 


These items formed originally part of a much larger dessert service. The provenance of this service is a private American collection, which has seen regular visitors (and possibly users?) such as John F Kennedy and Iain Fleming.


The paintings in the central reserves are of sublime quality: sea shells, feathers, flowers, birds and a very intriguing wolf-like cat. The latter was probably meant to be a lion but porcelain artists in those days had never seen a lion so would have based a painting on whatever images they could lay there hands on - hence the strange wolf-like result! 


The paintings are attributed to Humphrey Chamberlain, who was the nephew of Robert Chamberlain. Humphrey died at a relatively young age (33 years old) and was one of the best painters at the factory - in fact his paintings are regarded on a par with those of Thomas Baxter, however often they are wrongly attributed to Baxter, who lived longer and therefore became more famous.


CONDITION REPORT All items are in excellent condition. One plate has some crazing and one serving dish has a small chip off the underside, which is hardly visible. There is some light wear here and there as visible in the pictures. A number of items have the gilt band around the central reserve touched up, which is barely visible but means they are better not used for wet foods. The whole set displays beautifully.


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 plates 20cm (8") diameter and 3cm (1.25") high; oval dishes 30cm X 22.5cm (12" X 9") and 5cm (2") high.

Chamberlains Worcester part dessert service, orange with paintings, ca 1815



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