Imitation, as good as real
I've been looking at very crafty imitations of Swansea items this week. Swansea and Nantgarw were two factories in Wales in the very early 19th Century, and they made some of the most beautiful porcelain ever made. The local Welsh clay was unique, but it was also very costly to work with: the best quality had a kiln waste of 90%, meaning that only 1 in 10 items would come out of the kiln in a usable state!
The Welsh factories also had some of the best flower painters, who created their own tradition of flower painting, see my previous post here.
With such high costs it is no wonder that both factories soon collapsed, in spite of the great respect people had for them.
There was a huge quantity of left over stock, and this was sent to London to be decorated by the many porcelain decoration studios there. These studios also did decorations for factories in Staffordshire when they had more orders than they could fulfil, or if they didn't have enough money to employ their own artists.
And so it happened that Coalport, the new start up in Shropshire that used the same studios as Swansea for their decorations at the time, started making Swansea-style items, using the same painters. It is sometimes hard to distinguish the items as many were made so well - but the porcelain and the shapes are slightly different.
And then there is the mystery of the coffee cup I came across, still unsolved: I believe it might have been made by Hilditch, or perhaps Hicks & Meigh - but if you think you know, please tell me!
You can find some of these sublime items in my shop - although some have already been sold this week after I posted them on my instagram feed... do you follow it? There are pictures and stories every single day.
I hope you have a wonderful weekend - it will be the last of the summer bliss before the new season starts!
This week's new treasures: