SCARCE AND COLLECTIBLE antique Worcester dish by Barr, Flight and Barr c1810. This deep square dish was originally part of a large dessert set that would have contained four such dishes among dozens of other pieces. The ribbed, lobed shape is finely bat printed en grisaille with vignettes of seashells and aquatic plants in the centre and around the border. The scalloped edge and trim rings are decorated with superb quality gilding characteristic of this factory after 1790. The gold itself is mercuric oxide, harder and brighter when fired and burnished than the earlier type of honey gold. Henry Sandon states that everything made at this factory until the late 1820s was soft paste porcelain of the old Dr Wall formula with some modifications and a finer glaze. The factory introduced bone ash only after their supply of soap rock ran out with the closing of the last Cornish quarry in 1826. Here is your opportunity to own a piece of original English soft paste porcelain.
MARKS: During this period the Flight Barr marks under the base were often as interesting as the decoration. This dish is a good example, with its elaborate "Royal" oval mark printed in puce: "BARR FLIGHT & BARR Royal Porcelain Works WORCESTER. London-House FLIGHT & BARR Coventry Street. Manufacturers to their Majesties, Prince of Wales, and Royal Family. Established 1751" with printed crown and Prince of Wales feathers and impressed 'B.F.B' and crown. This factory was granted its second Royal Warrant in 1807 (Prince of Wales) and its third in 1808 (Princess of Wales), dating this piece between 1807 and 1813, when Martin Barr Sr died. George, Prince of Wales, became Prince Regent in 1811 and the mark was updated with his new title, giving us an approximate date for this piece of 1810. A few years earlier Worcester engraver Valentine Green had proudly written that his city had "the first Royal China Manufactory known in these kingdoms". The royal seal of approval was a marketing powerhouse and, with the address of the London showrooms clearly shown, royal dinner guests were able to return to their stately homes and order their own services the next day.
CONDITION is very good. No damage, issues or restoration. Original brown firing speckles on the underside (see photo). Rubbing and wear to the gilding characteristic of 200 year-old porcelain. Scant utensil marks and surface wear. Measures 8.75"W x 2"H (10.5" diameter). Weighs 554gm, 1lb 4oz. This piece is smooth and luxurious to the touch and displays beautifully.
BAT PRINTS & SHELLS: the Barr Flight Barr period coincided with the introduction of bat prints into a product line that was otherwise hand decorated. This printing trend did not last for long and good examples are scarce. The fine detail rendered by the bat printing process was ideal to reflect a growing 19C interest in scientific inquiry. Private libraries added display cabinets for feathers, shells, minerals and plants. Shells were especially admired for their form and rarity. Bat printed shells proved so popular that by 1810 shells were being superbly rendered by hand on porcelain, often the rare and exotic species. The shells on this dish include cowrie, bivalve and conch, possible with its pearl. The last picture shows a pair of exquisite contemporaneous examples in the V&A collection by Coalport (left) and Barr Flight & Barr (right).
LITERATURE: In 1882, Richard W. Binns FSA published a 'Catalogue of a Collection of Worcester Porcelain in The Museum at the Royal Porcelain Works'. Page 114 includes item #1217. "Oval Sugar, double handled, groups of shells in bat print, richly gilt ..." (BFB and crown impressed). Henry Sandon's authoritative book on the period illustrates an oval dessert dish finely bat printed in black with shells, p81, pl65.
Henry Sandon 'FLIGHT AND BARR WORCESTER PORCELAIN 1783-1840' 1978.
Valentine Green 'The History and Antiquities of the City and Suburbs of Worcester' 1796.
Worcester Porcelain Museum (formerly Dyson Perrins Museum).
V&A: Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK.
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