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Finger and thumb

Happy weekend! This week I am highlighting a very well known and beautiful pattern: the "Finger and Thumb" pattern (some call it "Thumb and Finger" pattern) that was made by Chamberlains Worcester, John Rose at Coalport and others as well.

The trio shown here was made by John Rose at Coalport between 1803 and 1807, but this pattern was first designed by Chamberlains in Worcester and it was called the "Japan" style, imitating the beautiful Imari style from Arita, Japan. The style was very popular in the early 19th Century.

Imari patterns are always in this colour scheme of deep cobalt blue, bright red or orange, green and gilt. There is often a combination of abundant flowers and sometimes also some mythical elements such as dragon masks or a phoenix, any many designs, although not this one, are divided into panels.

In this trio, you will notice the strange blue shapes, latticed in gilt. These shapes have given this pattern its name "Finger and Thumb" - however it has nothing to with thumbs or fingers, but is derived from an ancient Japanese design. The "fingers" are probably clouds or mist (kasumi in Japanese). This element in Japanese decorations beautifully creates depth in a composition, sometimes forming the ground for more detailed decorations. It can be found in decorations from as early as the late Heian era in the 13th Century, and has often been used in kimono designs.

I am often asked what the difference is between the Chamberlains and the John Rose version. The individual painting styles can differ of course, but after looking carefully, I would say that the Chamberlains version is denser while the John Rose version is a bit more sparing but it flows more. You can see a Chamberlains saucer here. And the gilt detail on the fingers and thumbs is different, too; the Coalport version has an interesting maze-like lattice, while the Chamberlains version is more like a fish bone pattern.

I once had a whole tea service in this pattern by John Rose, which now happily lives with one of my wonderful clients. Today I only have one trio, but I have lots of other Imari items as well - good Imari pieces from the very early 19th Century are among my favourites. Here you can see one of my all-time favourites: a dish in the "Nelson" pattern, which is still available.

Where to find stock

You can find all my Imari items, including this beautiful trio, here, and you can find all my available items here. If you want to stay up to date with new additions, find me on Instagram, where I put up pictures with a story several times a week.

Happy weekend, and thumbs up to Finger and Thumb 👍👍👍

The John Rose set I sold a while ago - now happily living with a wonderful client.


This week's new treasures:​


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