Hybrid Hard Paste

I am fast-forwarding 10 years from last week's wonderful tea service made by Thomas Rose at Coalport. This week I am showing a New Hall tea service from about 1810 - and while many features are similar, it is also very different!

In both services the greyish porcelain is similar to Chinese porcelain and clearly from before the time of white bone china. Both have an orientally inspired decoration, to be precise Japanese-inspired. And the items included in both services are similar, with the cups and saucers coming as "trios": a teacup and coffee cup sharing the same saucer (as you would never drink tea and coffee at the same time, would you?).

But there are also differences. While the Thomas Rose porcelain was still quite experimental and heavy, this New Hall porcelain was much more developed and smooth. To begin with, New Hall was not one factory, but a cooperative of Richard Champion, who had gotten hold of the trade marked porcelain recipe of the bankrupt Bristol factory, and several Staffordshire potters he started a partnership with. Porcelain was still unknown to Staffordshire, where everyone made earthenware but there was a fantastic skill set to develop porcelain. The Bristol recipe had been pioneered at its predecessor Plymouth, and it was the first true hard-paste porcelain in Britain, made with Cornish clay. So not only was this recipe the first to bring hard paste porcelain to Britain, it was also the first to bring porcelain to Staffordshire.

Because this porcelain was quite error-prone and hard to fire (and therefore expensive), the frugal Staffordshire men came up with some improvements, saving in fuel costs and kiln waste. This is often called the "New Hall hybrid hard-paste porcelain". This service is a classic example of this beautiful grey porcelain, hard yet thin and strong. New Hall did so well with this that they adopted bone china quite late, in about 1810, simultaneously to when this service was made. And you can see why for many years they didn't see the need to change their porcelain recipe; have a look at the stunning pictures above.