In 1813, C.J. Mason patented a method of incorporating iron slag into clay to toughen his china products. The resulting stronger china became very popular for everyday use. In fact, Mason’s was even then able to create garden seats and other large pieces from ironstone. And the beauty of the designs were as appreciated in the early 19th century as they are today.
Many early Mason’s ironstone pieces imitated Japanese Imari and Chinese patterns, as this one does. The hand-painted pattern on this tureen is called “The Flying Bird.” It is an especially beautiful piece, with its bold enamels accented with rich gilding and topped off with a gorgeous finial in mazarin blue and further gilding. (This dark blue color is so named after the Italian Duchess of Mazarin, Hortense Mancini, who made known, as a mistress of England’s King Charles II, that this was her favorite color.) The handles are painted in the same manner as the finial. The Mason’s printed mark on the bottom of the tureen dates it to between 1830 and 1848.
The condition of this tureen is excellent. It has a thick blue glaze that has protected both the pottery and the transferware. The enameling all over is in excellent condition, showing remarkably little wear. The gilding is of gold leaf and is exquisite. The handles and the finial are works of art in themselves with their gold leaf decoration.
It measures 13-1/4 inches wide from handle to handle, 9-1/4 inches deep and 9-1/4 inches high.