The mysterious "Blue V"
A porcelain collector loves a good mystery. And lucky for collectors of British porcelain - there is an endless supply of mysteries!
It is believed that in the Staffordshire Potteries there were about 300 ceramic factories in the early 19th Century, such was the industrial boom of those days. With Liverpool nearby and an extensive network of canals to bring in coal and clay and take out finished porcelain (and yes, it's much safer on a boat than in a coach over bumpy and muddy roads!), Staffordshire became the ceramic centre of the world, supplying the huge British Empire and beyond.
You can imagine that the amount of information about this area is huge. A fantastic resource for those who are curious is the Potteries website, a longstanding labour of love run by volunteers and offering lots of information in this very confusing field.
One establishment keeps popping up but we don't know who or what they were. We keep seeing beautiful teaware, usually in cobalt blue and gilt with gorgeously hand painted flower posies, marked only with an underglaze blue "v". The porcelain is often made by the lesser-known factories such as Yates, Rathbone or Mrs Bowring, or sometimes we simply don't know. There are patterns that are repeated across various makers, and patterns that seem unique.
Who was behind the "blue V" establishment? Was it a factory producing their own porcelain? Was it a decorating workshop? Generally it is thought the latter, but we can't know. Porcelain expert Ian Harvey wrote a book on Rathbone Porcelain and has devoted a chapter to it, with wonderful comparisons with other factories and patterns.
Over the years I have had several gorgeous cups and saucers from this establishment, and currently one in stock. Have a look at the stunning craftsmanship of not only the flower painting, but also the gilding. A pattern that keeps popping up is number 1165, which you can see here on a Yates trio.
Perhaps one day we will find out more... for now let's enjoy this beautiful teaware!
Where to find things
You can you can find all my cups and saucers 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 keep pursuing mysteries! 🕵️♀️🤔🕵️♂️
This week's new treasures: