Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Beauty of Doulton Burslem Ware

QUESTION: I recently came across several pieces of what a dealer called Doulton Burslem Ware at an antique show. I have never heard of this type of pottery, even though I have several pieces made by Royal Doulton in my collection. Were these pieces specially made? Did Doulton make them in a separate factory. Where did the name Burslem come from?

ANSWER: Over its history, Royal Doulton made a variety of types of ceramics, including pottery and porcelain. Its Burslem line featured its finest porcelains.

John Doulton began his working life as a potter’s apprentice at Dwight’s Pottery in Fulham, England. In 1815, he went into business for himself in Lambeth, partnering with a journeyman names John Watts and a widow named Martha Jones. After Martha Jones left the partnership in 1820, John Doulton changed the company’s  name to Doulton & Watts. The business specialized in making stoneware articles, including decorative bottles and salt glaze sewer pipes. The firm took the name Doulton & Company in 1853 after the retirement of John Watts.

His son, Henry, joined his father in 1835 at age 15. He quickly mastered the technique of throwing large vessels. Legend has it that he once made 15 3-gallon filter cases before breakfast. To celebrate his coming of age in 1841, Henry made and fired a 300-gallon chemical jar. His father was so proud of him he displayed it with a sign reading, "The largest stoneware vessel in the world."

Not only did Henry have skill in making pottery, but he was a big thinker and attuned to the artistic tastes of the public. By 1871, Henry Doulton launched a studio at the Lambeth pottery, offering work to designers and artists from the nearby Lambeth School of Art.  In 1877 Henry bought out Pinder, Bourne and Company, a pottery located in Burslem, Staffordshire, England. This placed him in the region known as The Potteries. Five years later he changed the name to Doulton and Company.

Henry fostered an artistic environment that encouraged individual expression, and  soon his workers made some of the most beautiful porcelains of the time. Not only did he hire women, but handicapped artists as well.

Henry was given the Albert Medal by the Royal Society of Arts in 1885 and was knighted in 1887 because of his contributions to the artistic life of England. In the late 1800s anyone who wanted to be in style owned Doulton items.

Sir Henry held off displaying the new Burslem porcelains at exhibitions until he was confident that he could show his competitors the best of his artists were cap-able of producing. At the Chicago Exhibition in 1893 he felt the public was ready for the new range. Large vases, including one which was 6 feet high, were modeled by Charles Noke' and painted by Charles Labarre, who had come to Doulton's from Sevres in France. Other items exhibited were floral painted dessert services and fish and game sets. The Doulton Works took seven of the highest awards, the most given to any ceramic firm.

Doulton's factory at Burslem produced a tremendous amount of tableware and beautifully decorated items, such as vases, ewers and plaques, all of high quality porcelain. It took the work of many skilled craftsman and women to accomplish this.

Notable artists such as Percy Curock, Daniel Dewsbury, Edward Raby, George White and, of course, Charles Noke experimented with glazes, including Changware, Chinese Jade, Sung, and Flambe'.

The Art Nouveau movement influenced many of Doulton’s artists in the late 19th century. In 1889, when Doulton recruited Charles Noke' from the Worcester factory as its chief modeler, many of his earliest pieces featured Oriental-style dragons in high relief. Vases and ewers had gilded dragon handles or molded dragons crawling up the sides. Dragons became an important part of Noke's work, especially when he began experimenting with the Chinese rouge flambe glazes in the early 1900s.

By this time Doulton had become known for its stoneware and ceramics, under the artistic direction of John Slater, who worked with figurines, vases, character jugs, and decorative pieces designed by the prolific Leslie Harradine. Doulton products came to the attention of the Royal family. In 1901 King Edward VII sold the Burslem factory the Royal Warrant, allowing the business to adopt new markings and a new name, Royal Doulton. The company added products during the first half of the 20th century while manufacturing fashionable and high-quality bone china.

Early Doulton artists frequently used nature as their theme, befitting the Art Nouveau style. Flowers were a very popular subject, usually done in muted colors outlined in gold. They also used animals, especially farm animals such as cows and goats, to decorate vases and other items, many with hand-painted landscapes.

In the first few years of the Burslem factory, some unique, very fragile pieces were made with colorful applied seashells or flowers, vines and leaves in an effort to duplicate some of the Amphora pieces made in Austria during that time. Some of these pieces are still in existence today and are eagerly sought by collectors.

During the late 19th century, when the Burslem craftsmen were producing their wares, many competing potters from the Worcester, Royal Bonn and Rudolstadt factories were also producing similar pieces. All of them employed the Spanish Ware technique—the  painting of very fine raised 22-karat gold outline traceries of flowers and leaves, combined with on-glaze enamel painting, often on an ivory or vellum ground. Many pieces had elaborate gilded scroll handles and three or four feet. Some rare pieces even had sections of reticulation.

Many of the cups and saucers from tea, coffee and chocolate services were very delicate in nature and also painted in muted colors using flowers as a theme. Much use of gold was used to decorate the cups and saucers, not only to outline the flowers, but the handle and trim were almost always done in gold. Doulton did a series called Blue Iris. The majority of the pieces in this line used blue flowers on a cream background, embellished by much gold tracery.

To read more articles on antiques, please visit the Antiques Article section of my Web site.  And to stay up to the minute on antiques and collectibles, please join the other 18,000 readers by following my free online magazine, #TheAntiquesAlmanac. Learn more about Colonial America in the Spring 2018 Edition, "Early Americana," online now.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Through the Glass Brightly

QUESTION: My grandmother had the most amazing collection of Heisey glassware. Though she didn’t know much about it, she loved the way it sparkled. Gran has passed on and now I have her collection. I, too, know very little about Heisey glass. What can you tell me about it? And how would I go about continuing to collect it?

ANSWER: It’s always nice to inherit someone’s collection. But the act of collecting is what brings joy to that person. That same joy is missing when someone hands you their collection. Should you curate it and improve the collection or just warehouse it. If you choose the former, you’ll need to educate yourself about Heisey glass in all its forms. If you choose the latter, you might as well sell it. Holding on to it won’t necessarily do you any good if you don’t know its true value.

A.H. Heisey formed the A.H. Heisey Company in Newark, Ohio, in 1895. The factory provided fine quality glass tableware and decorative glass figurines. It produced both pressed and blown glassware in a wide variety of patterns and colors. The company also made glass automobile headlights and Holophane Glassware lighting fixtures. After Heisey died, his sons ran the company until 1957, when the factory closed.

Augustus Heisey was born in 1842 in Hanover, Germany. In 1843, his father took the family to the United States, settling in Merrittown, Pa. After someone murdered his father, his mother returned to Germany. Augustus spent the rest of his childhood with his sister in Brownsville.Pennsylvania. He worked first in a printing business but soon began working as a clerk with either for the King Glass Company or Cascade Glass Works. By 1861. Augustus H. Heisey was in the glass business.

Heisey fought in the Civil War and returned to the glass business soon afterwards. By 1870 he was a highly regarded salesman for, and son-in-law of George Duncan, who owned the George Duncan Glass Company. By 1895, he was looking at a site in Newark, Ohio, with hopes of founding his own company. The high quality limestone deposits and abundant natural gas, water, oil and coal nearby made Newark an excellent choice.

Heisey understood the importance of marketing. His breakthrough technique for combining blown vessels with fancy pressed stems put his product in the country's dining rooms, but his marketing innovations kept them there. He was one of the first manufacturers to market directly to the end user through advertisements in popular magazines for women. Heisey also understood niche marketing, producing specific products to appeal to various regions.

In the years before World War I, the company prospered, adding lines and colors and developing a reputation for a quality product at an affordable price. The war brought with it problems due to government controls of production and lack of manpower, but Heisey had developed a new etching technique that was more economical and required less skill to execute. The company remained strong until the passage of the Prohibition Amendment which severely curtailed the market for glass items intended for alcoholic use.

Augustus Heisey died suddenly in February 1922, and his son, E. Wilson Heisey, assumed the presidency. E. Wilson's passion was color, and during his time with the company, he worked closely with company chemist Emmett Olsson to produce a variety of hues.

The company went to great lengths to produce distinct colors, and Heisey glass may often be identified from the specific colors alone. In 1925, the company introduced Flamingo, a pastel rose-pink, and Moongleam, a vivid green. Marigold was a brassy gold-yellow color. Sahara, which replaced Marigold, was a satisfying soft lemony yellow and Hawthorne a lavender. Tangerine, a bright orange-red produced from about 1933, was part of a trend to darker, more vivid colors. During this time, the company introduced a Cobalt color called Stiegel Blue. Alexandrite, the rarest of Heisey colors, can be a pale blue-green under normal light, but in sunlight or ultraviolet light, it glows with a pink-lavender hue. Zircon is a very modern grey-blue and was the last new color introduced.

High clarity and brilliance, due to the process of fire polishing, were a hallmark of Heisey glass. Many of the pressed pieces look like cut crystal because of the high quality of the glass and the crispness of the molding. The majority of the pieces are impressed with the company logo, a raised capital letter "H" inscribed in a diamond. Popular pattern names include Crystolite, Greek Key, Empress, Plantation, Ridgeleigh, Stanhope, Old Sandwich, and Yeoman, amongst dozens of others.

In 1942, E. Wilson Heisey died suddenly and his brother, T. Clarence Heisey, took over. Shortages from World War II drastically curtailed production. And after it, labor unrest led to strikes over wages. By the 1950s, overseas manufacturers began producing handmade glass for less, and cheaper machine-made glass for everyday use became widely available.

At the time the factory closed in 1957, the Imperial Glass Company bought the molds for the Heisey glass production and continued producing some pieces mostly with the Imperial Glass mark until they went out of business in 1984. Many of these pieces were animal figurines, mostly in new or original colors using the old molds.

To read more articles on antiques, please visit the Antiques Article section of my Web site.  And to stay up to the minute on antiques and collectibles, please join the other 18,000 readers by following my free online magazine, #TheAntiquesAlmanac. Learn more about Colonial America in the Spring 2018 Edition, "Early Americana," online now.

NOTE: Sorry for the interruption in my blog posts, but I suffered a prolonged Internet outage as a result of a severe storm.