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Martin's colourful table

The Worcester factory had gone through some dark days in the 1780s to about 1800, which is roughly known as the Flight & Barr period. They had trouble with their kilns, their porcelain recipes, lazy and rebellious workers, a shortage of good decorators... you name it. During the 1780s the factory teetered on the edge of collapse, but managed to turn things around.

Then with the arrival of Martin Barr Jr as partner in 1804 a new era started. The factory was renamed as Barr, Flight & Barr. With most of the problems brought under control and a young director who brimmed with new ideas, the factory started bringing out some extremely colourful and gorgeous "Japan" patterned tableware. Martin Barr loved bright colours and this was noticeable in the patterns.

This beautiful service is a great example of the "Japan" patterns. Based on the Japanese Imari style, it is neoclassical in style as well, with its strongly symmetrical pattern and acanthus detail alongside the stylised Japanese chrysanthemum flowers. In underglaze blue with a bright pattern of warm red, gilt and bright pink, these plates would steal the show at any dinner party. Services like these were very popular among the British nobility, and they flew off the shelves, allowing the factory to hire ever-more talented decorators and up their game year by year.

The porcelain itself, however, is still a little uneven with visible surface blemishes, which points to a probable date of around 1805, when the kilns and recipe were still a little unstable. In around 1810 the quality of the porcelain would improve and become much smoother; here you can see some pitted surfaces and a miniscule difference in the height at which the plates are set. This service, therefore, has the charming slightly uneven quality of the very early 19th Century - you can see the same with wares of other makers, such as Coalport, Chamberlains, Derby and others.

What's not to love about this warm, bright table setting? And the wonderful thing is that these items are sturdy and fine to use; they obviously have been used for many years as they show a bit of wear, but they never lose their charm.

Most of these items have the impressed "BFB" mark. If you are seeking a reference, you can find a plate of this service on page 83 of Henry Sandon's "Flight and Barr Worcester Porcelain 1783-1840". The service also has provenance: it came from the collection of Frank Herrmann, a well known collector who amassed a huge collection of tea and dessert services in fabulous condition.

Where to find things

You can you can find all dinner and dessert services 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 bring some colour to your table! 🍽♥️🌟💙🍽


This week's Japan pattern treasures:​



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