Early European delftware (tin glazed) Blue & White tile with hand painted bird displaying Chinese Late Ming influences (see all Photos). This tile is from the mid 1600s or earlier and is likely from Portugal. It is thick and nearly 6 inches square (see size details listed farther below), and it is the only tile for sale in this listing. The other tiles shown in Photos 5, 8 and 9 are not for sale here but are used for comparison only. As the Photos illustrate, this cobalt blue decorated earthenware tile has simple corner motifs composed of irregular dashes and dots around a central dot. The flying bird is painted quickly and effortlessly and is fluid rather than stiff or rigid.
I acquired this Bird tile over 35 years ago along with three other bird tiles and all but one have been sold. Each tile was decorated with the exact same bird design and Photo 5 shows two of the bird tiles side-by-side along with a flower tile from the same time period and pottery tradition. The single bird tile that is left is shown all by itself in the first four photos (as well as in Photos 6 and 7).
The dealer from which I acquired the four bird tiles said that they had been salvaged from the demolition of a church in Portugal that dated from the 1500s. Few tile reference books illustrate any examples like them. However, I finally stumbled upon a book on antique tiles that did in fact show some two dozen examples of Portuguese tiles from the 1600s that also included an example of this same bird motif on tiles with the same corner designs. Little else was said about these bird tiles. Portugal once had one of the earliest trade contacts with China and Portuguese Carracks (small ocean going sailing ships, see below) did in fact carry some of the first Ming porcelains to western Europe before the Dutch entered the China porcelain trade.
The bird tile for sale here has one small edge chip along the bottom middle (shown in Photo 6 with a pencil pointing to it), one small corner chip located in the bottom left corner that is too small to capture in the photo (see Photo 1) and two thin surface glaze chips also evident in Photo 1. And as noted, the Bird Tile for sale here is the one shown in Photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 all by itself. Photos 5, 8 and 9 show other tiles for comparison only and that are not for sale here. The last Photo (Photo 9) illustrates two Dutch tiles from the early 1600s that flank a Bird tile that is no longer available. Photo 8 shows a Portuguese Flower tile from the same tile period as the Bird Tile listed here.
The clay used to produce this bird tile is light brown to pale yellow 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 clear 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 thin tracer brush). The edges of this tile are beveled (angled inward). Finally, the unglazed body of the tile is fairly porous. It is 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. And as noted, 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 Dutch delftware and maiolica tiles often sell for $200 to $350 each at major antique shows. This is a fine antique tile that will also capture attention in most any setting whether placed in a small stand, or along a plate ledge, or framed all by itself along 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).
Additional Note on Photos: The last photo shows that this bird tile is larger than early 1600s Dutch delft tiles.
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. 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). 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.
PAYMENT OPTIONS: Ask about our Lay-away program if you want to spread out your payments. We accept checks on US Banks (no temporary checks, all checks must have 9 digit routing code; item ships after check fully clears), USPS money orders, PayPal or contact us with your verified address for more options. If you wish to use a credit card by way of PayPal, that option becomes available after you submit a Ruby Lane purchase order (see Terms of Sale for additional information). Once submitted, a PayPal icon will appear at the bottom of this listing and then you may proceed from there if you wish to pay via PayPal. Thanks for looking and do come back and visit again when you have the time.
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