This is a very charming orphaned coffee can made by Thomas Wolfe at Factory Z in about 1810, which was the Regency era. This coffee can would have belonged to a "true trio" consisting of a teacup or tea bowl, a coffee can and a saucer. In the late 18th and early 19th Century this is how cups and saucers were sold; as you would never drink tea and coffee at the same time, why invest in an extra saucer?

 

Thomas Wolfe started his factory in 1781 in Staffordshire. It is believed that he was the first one to install a steam engine to grind flint, in 1793. He was a maker of high quality porcelain but also worked at the Islington pottery in Liverpool, and in partnership Davenport, Miles Mason and Spode. For many years the items made by Thomas Wolfe at Stoke were not identified and the factory received the name "Factory Z" - we now know that this was Thomas Wolfe but the name lived on. 

 

This coffee can is made of fine white bone china, and it has a nice kinked handle. It has a very simple but sophisticated bat printed decoration of fruit: a peach and a bunch of grapes intertwined. The rim has a simple double gilt band.

 

The decoration was "bat printed", which has nothing to do with bats (the animals) but stands for the particular way transfer prints were generally only done for about 10 years, roughly between 1810 and 1820. It was a form of transfer printing by which an etched picture was transferred not by a sheet of paper, but by a slab of gelatine called a “bat”, which would transfer sticky oil onto the porcelain object, which was then covered in powdered paint. The paint would stick to the oil print of the original etching and that’s how the picture emerged. Another difference is that the etching itself was not scratched into the copper plate, but stippled; this created the soft tones. Even though the decorations come out in monochrome, they tend to have more subtlety and emotional expression than transfer prints or even hand painted decorations. Bat printing was very time consuming and could not cover large areas, so it was not done on a large scale and didn't survive long beyond the early 19th Century.

 

CONDITION REPORT The can is in perfect antique condition without any damage, crazing or repairs, and only very minimal 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 6.6cm (2.5") diameter and 6.1cm (2.4") high.

Thomas Wolfe Factory Z orphaned coffee can, bat printed fruit, ca 1810

SKU: A-WOL02
£95Price
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