Early European delftware (tin glazed) Blue & White tile with hand painted bird (three were once available, but now there is only one left; see last photo). The tile for sale here is the bird tile on the viewers left in the last photo that has one edge chip along the bottom and one small corner chip at the bottom left that is too small to notice in the photo (see last photo). This cobalt blue decorated earthenware tile has simple corner motifs of alternating dashes and dots around a central dot. The flying bird is painted quickly and effortlessly and is fluid rather than rigid. I acquired this tile over 30 years ago along with three others (all but one have sold) sporting the exact same bird design and this particular one is the last one left (again, see last photo which shows two example side-by-side). The dealer said that the four bird tiles were salvaged from the demolition of a church in Portugal that originally dated from the 1500s or early 1600s. I have searched many tile publications and books and have not found any examples exactly like them. If any viewer knows of other very thick tiles with tin glaze and these same simple corner motifs that also have well documented provenience, kindly drop me an email – thanks. This listing is for just one Bird Tile and it is the one shown on the left side in the last photo (that is, the first Bird tile on the end of the three tile set in the last photo). Also, the last four photographs show other tiles for comparison and only the one remaining bird tile is for sale here (all other tiles are not for sale at this time and the Bird tile shown all by itself in the first five Photos has also been sold). And so none of the other tiles are for sale at this time other than the one remaining Bird tile (there are two Dutch Urn tiles from the early 1600s displayed in Photos 6 and 7, and two other Portuguese tiles displayed in the last photo).
The clay used to make this bird tile is light brown in color and seems to contain some fine silt but no sand (the only sand grains are from the lime mortar still attached to the back of the tile). The tile is moderately well fired and the glaze is comparatively thick. The front of the tile exhibits some indentations and imperfections from manufacture and a few small pin holes but no evidence of corner pegging as typically found on Dutch tiles. There were at least three different brushes used by the decorator to apply the cobalt blue pigment: a 1/4 wide brush (called a shader), a 1/8 inch wide brush, and a finer pencil (a tracer brush). The edges of the tile are beveled (angled inward) and have been chipped along the edge on the back side (to remove the original mortar?). Just one of these back edge chips reach the front glazed face of tile (see last photo). Finally, the unglazed body of the tile is fairly porous. A very nice and early tin glaze tile (delftware tile) in good condition with a tiny corner chip, one edge chip and two small glaze chips along the front.
Collectors also call these tin glazed wares' majolica' in deference to their early importation from Spain to Italy by way of the Island of Majorca. Portuguese sailors and sea captains were among the first to open a water route to China using small ships (Carracks or Kraaks, hence the term Carrack porcelain) by sailing around the horn of Africa. They traded with the Late Ming dynasty porcelain merchants and the blue and white decoration on this tile conveys Late Ming Dynasty influences. Similar pre 1620 delftware and maiolica tiles often sell for $200 to $400 each at major antique shows and someday further research may pin point the original source of this particular tile. Until then, this is a fine antique tile that will also capture attention in most any setting whether placed in a small stand, along plate ledge or framed on a wall. And as always, this Blue & White Tin Glazed Bird tile also comes with my Docs Antiques `no fault' satisfaction guarantee or you may return it using my return policy for a refund (see return policy for full details farther below, certain shipping costs are nonrefundable).
Notes on Photos: The sixth photo shows that these bird tiles are larger than early 1600s Dutch delft tiles (sixth photo has a polychrome Dutch tile with a late Ming - Wan-li vase on the left side of a bird tile and a blue & white Dutch tile also with a Chinese vase depicted on the right side of a bird tile; all three of these tiles in the sixth photo are no longer for sale). The seventh photo shows the back side of these same three times shown in the sixth photo. The eight photo shows that all three tiles have about the same thickness (and which is a lot thicker than 18th century tiles). The last photo shows three tiles with the same corner motifs and the tile for sale here is the bird tile on the far left and the only Bird tile on an end (middle Bird tile has been sold).
SIZE: This tile is square and measures about 5 11/16 inches by 5 11/16 inches. It is thick measures 5/8 inches thick. A large tile that is perfect size for displaying on a shelf, wall or along mantle and is guaranteed to capture attention in most any setting.
CONDITION: This tile has no cracks, hairlines, star cracks, stains, major scratches, repairs or restorations. There are two shallow glaze chips along the edge of the tile where just the glaze has been chipped off but the clay body remains intact (see last Photo). The largest glaze chip is located along the bottom of the tile to the left of the center that extends a maximum 3/8 inches across the front glaze of the tile. The other glaze chip is located in the upper right corner and is very shallow and narrow. At the center of the bottom of the tile there is an edge chip that extends through the body of the tile and this edge chip measures about 3/4 inches long and extends at an angle reaching a maximum 3/16 inches into the tile. The back of the tile is fairly clean with just a scattered light coating of sand and lime mortar adhering randomly along the back side. There are also a few `scallop-like chips' along the outer edges of the back of the tile from cleaning off mortar centuries ago and these do not penetrate through to the front. This style of back side edge chipping also appeared on the three other sold examples of this same bird motif tile. The glaze is comparatively thick, shiny and bright and has no crazing. This is a nice example of a hard to find tile style with simple blue and white decoration conveying Late Ming Dynasty Chinese influences.
SHIPPING: All mainland US buyers pay just $9.90 for well packed, insured USPS Priority (this is an estimated savings of about $1 to $3 since insurance & tracking are also INCLUDED in the above quoted amount for all mainland US addresses). A slower shipping option is also offered (see Shipping menu). Docs Antiques never charges more than it actually costs to ship the item to you and we will refund any excess should you live near us. All international buyers will pay only the exact shipping costs for all verifiable locations outside the continental US mainland. Please note that import duties, taxes and other charges are not included in the item price or shipping costs and these additional charges are the Buyer's responsibility. If buyer selects a shipping method that is not insurable, then buyer accepts full responsibility should tile be broken or lost (Seller will obtain a certificate of proof of mailing to show all was posted as requested). We do offer a petition for VAT relief on the behalf of the buyer which may help reduce certain import taxes should your country allow such petitions for items over 100 years old. Please check with your country's customs office to determine what these additional costs will be prior to purchasing this item -- thanks.
RETURN POLICY: Satisfaction and peace of mind are guaranteed for all Docs Antiques listings -- please refer directly to our Service Pledge and our Return Policy for full details. And this means that if you are unhappy with your purchase, you may return this tin glazed tile undamaged by sending it back post marked within seven days of receipt for a refund (see terms of sale for full details). Items damaged during shipping are covered by insurance and while this rarely happens because we double box, we will gladly help you file your claim should it ever be necessary (to date, we have had only two claims for damage from shipping in over 7 years). Of course, never send an item back that was damaged by shipping since that will void the original insurance. Instead, contact us for help and we will gladly assist.
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