What Is English Pottery?

Introduction to English Pottery

English Pottery

English Pottery

English pottery is a popular and historical form of collectible ceramics. It has an impressive range of styles, shapes, and designs which cover a wide variety of eras and cultures – from the earliest times of ancient British history to the present day. From bone china to traditional slipware and transfer printed wares, collecting English pottery can be incredibly popular, interesting, and rewarding.

Let’s take a look at the basics of English pottery to help you decide if this is the right type of collectible for you:

Overview of English Pottery

English pottery is highly regarded and collected all over the world. With its historical roots going back over 600 years, English pottery made excellent use of the country’s clay deposits to create beautiful, functional pieces for home and table use. Pottery in England has been used for ceremonial purposes as far back as 2000 BC. Today, English potteries continue to be admired for their unique styles and traditional manufacturing techniques.

While early strong-bodied wares were used mainly for utility purposes, the 17th century was a period of great artistic expression in England when potters began creating Delftware. Delftware is a type of glazed earthenware often decorated with blue and white lead glaze depicting flowers or scenes from nature or mythology. It hit its peak of popularity during the 18th Century but remains highly sought after today.

In addition to Delftware, investors also seek Staffordshire figurines molded from salt-glazed earthenware in the 18th century and various Victorian-era blue transferware prints from Wedgwood and other factories established during this period. Beyond transfer printing techniques, English potters have been innovative with diverse methods such as:

  • Mason’s Ironstone china;
  • colored luster;
  • Rose Medallion;
  • Spatter lithographs;
  • Sprigging;
  • encaustic tiling;
  • Old Chelsea porcelain with gold foliate decoration;
  • black Basaltes ware with raised Neoclassical figures on polychrome grounds;
  • majolica with esthetically designed figures from nature such as birds and lizards etc., all made by skilled artisans who practice centuries-old ceramic methods passed down through generations up ”til now.

Different Types of English Pottery

Collecting English Pottery

Collecting English Pottery

English pottery is divided into four general categories: delft, earthenware, porcelain, and stoneware. Each type of English pottery has a unique look and feel, with its own distinct properties.

Delft pottery is generally characterized by designs on blue-and-white glazes. These pieces are often painted with intricate shapes and symbols that often have religious or traditional meanings. Delft pieces range from wall plates to teapots and can be found in both antique stores and modern shops.

Earthenware is made from clay fired at lower temperatures (around 980°C), which is glazed for protection against water absorption. These pieces come in a variety of colors, finishes, and shapes, including mugs, jugs, dishes, figurines, and more. Many antique earthenware pieces are decorated with floral patterns or hand-painted designs.

Porcelain is mostly associated with fine china sets from the late 16th century onwards, but there are many other types of porcelain made today including tiles, sculptures, and tableware sets. Porcelain has a very smooth surface which makes it ideal for detailed paintings or finely drawn engravings – perfect for creating commemorative plates or works of art!

Stoneware has been around since ancient times but wasn’t widely used until the 19th century; it’s also known as lead-glazed chip ware due to its distinctive patina effect when exposed to glaze at high temperatures (around 1,200°C). It breaks less easily than delft or earthenware making it particularly useful for tankards and cooking vessels – stoneware tankards were usually decorated with humorous images like foxes or ferrets wearing bonnets!

Where to Find English Pottery

English pottery has been around for hundreds of years, but the collecting of English pottery has become a popular hobby in recent decades. English pottery can be found at antique stores, flea markets, and online auctions. There are also antique dealers who specialize in English pottery, so they can be a great resource if you’re looking for specific pieces.

Let’s explore some of the different places to find English pottery:

Antique Stores

Antique stores are a great place to start your search for English pottery. Antique dealers usually have a good network of connections that include other dealers, auction houses, and private collectors – and this can make it more likely for them to find precisely the English pottery you’re looking for. It’s not always easy to find authentic English pottery in antique stores, but here are some tips that can improve your chances:

  • Look for shops with knowledgeable owners who have specialties and/or certifications in antiques.
  • Research the area before you go – some areas of the world are known especially for their English pottery.
  • Take a close look at the pieces available – make sure they are marked with an appropriate factory or maker’s mark or monogram.
  • Think about having an authenticity test done by an expert – sometimes this can make all the difference between getting an authentic piece and ending up with a reproduction.
  • If possible, check references and customer reviews before making a purchase decision – this is especially important if you buy from an online source.

Online Auctions

Online auctions are a great way to find rare pieces of English pottery at competitive prices. Online auctions give you the flexibility to shop anywhere and anytime, making them particularly attractive for those who have limited access to local antique shops. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you may need to make decisions quickly in an online auction.

Additionally, be sure to familiarize yourself with the auction’s rules, bidding guidelines, and any fees or taxes related to the transaction before purchasing from an online auction. While online auctions can offer some of the best deals on rare English pottery, it is important for collectors to do their due diligence when shopping for a piece. Know your budget, check the authenticity of any item being sold and take into account any state or local laws associated with owning antique items before committing to a purchase.

Finally, be sure to verify payment methods before bidding on or buying from an online auction house as not all payment methods are accepted in every country. Following these tips can lead you to some exquisite finds without breaking your budget or dipping into your savings account.

Antique Fairs

Antique fairs are a great place to find English pottery. Antique shops often list when they will be attending these events on their websites and social media, so it can be a good idea to follow them online to stay informed of any upcoming events where they may have pieces for sale. This can be an ideal way of acquiring antiques, as buyers have the chance to get up close and personal with the items before buying. Be sure to bring along cash, a flashlight, and a magnifying glass as these events do not always accept credit cards or checks.

Fairs are also a great place for meeting other like-minded individuals who may be able to direct you toward the perfect piece of pottery that you’re looking for. Many antique traders will be willing to share knowledge, information, and contact details should you wish to reach out once the event is over.

It is important however that buyers pay close attention before making any purchases at antique fairs in order to establish what condition or age the pieces they’re interested in actually are before committing to buy. Look out for:

  • Chips
  • Cracks
  • Repairs
  • Fading – all of which could decrease the value significantly once taken home and researched properly away from the busy atmosphere of an event like this.

Identifying English Pottery

Identifying English pottery can be a tricky but rewarding endeavor. There are many different types and styles of pottery to choose from, and it can be difficult to know which ones will be more valuable. However, with a little bit of knowledge and research, you can learn to recognize the different types of English pottery, as well as their worth.

In the following section, we’ll discuss the basics of identifying English pottery:

Identifying Marks on English Pottery

Marking pieces of English pottery can help you identify the age, manufacturer, and other important information. Some marks are easy to read while others can be quite challenging. To aid in identification, first, determine the type of mark that is on the pottery.

English Pottery markings may include a collector’s wares mark (often referred to as a registration lozenge), a maker’s or retailer’s mark, an incised or printed mark, a transfer printed mark, and import marks, among others.

  • Collector’s Wares Mark This diamond-shaped registration lozenge with three-digit numbers indicating the date of production was used from 1842 onward when first introduced by the British government to protect patented designs from being copied without permission. The greater number signifies the year created and two smaller numbers appear at each corner representing the month and day when registered.
  • Maker’s or Retailer’s Mark: Potteries often imprinted trademarks on their products to indicate which company made it or that it was sold by a particular retailer. These are usually found below collector’s wares marks but could also be printed anywhere on a piece of pottery for identifying purposes; be sure to look closely since some may be hard to find! Makers or retailer’s tend to have stylized scripts with words like ‘manufactured by’ within them; they might also have cursive initials representing manufacturers or retailers as well as symbols like lions and crowns.
  • Incised or Printed Mark: These marks have been hand-painted onto pieces of English pottery using potters paint – they appear as lines around bases or near handles. When closely examined, many have additional letters which might represent dates (1847) or flow lines that signify production number sequences (e.#). Some makers add simple emblems such as leaves and flowers too.
  • Transfer Printed Marks: Transfer printing uses lithographs mounted between gold lacquer plates for printing large numbers of identical images onto items with precision – individual shapes were used for transfer-printed patterns in areas not completely accessible through regular carving processes (like lids). Colors on these prints generally range from light sepia browns through deeper purples depending upon age; they should have either cobalt blue lettering on them or cursive initials/words related to manufacturers/retailers respectively (ex.: “Royal Staffordshire Pottery Company”). When held up against light sources, transfer prints will reveal small cracks usually seen in thin layers around edges due to their fragility over time – this is evidence that you’re dealing with an authentic transferred print rather than one simply glazed over!
  • Import Marks: In many cases, imported items were imported into England whereupon their signatures were removed from them prior to sale; these would bear no marking other than perhaps an importer’s name (“John Doe Ltd.”). Since imports typically don’t follow maker trends from region-to-region, it helps differentiate older pieces from modern replicas that tend towards homogeneity across countries and regions over time.

Dating English Pottery

When it comes to collecting English pottery, one of the first things to consider is dating. Determining when the piece was made can help you determine its value and authenticity. Here are a few tips for dating English pottery:

  1. Examine the backstamp. Many pieces of English pottery include a backstamp, or mark, printed on the bottom of the piece. It is typically a combination of letters and symbols that indicate information such as manufacturer, artist, year of manufacture, and country of origin. Early pieces may not have any sort of backstamp; those created after 1784 are generally more likely to have markings.
  2. Look at shape and style characteristics. The shapes used in pottery production evolved over time and can be used as an indication of how old the piece is. Similarly, older pieces may be hand-thrown whereas newer pieces will typically be made using a wheel-thrown process. Look for differences in size, decoration patterns or glazing techniques between pieces that suggest different ages and dates for each item.
  3. Pay attention to historical context for inspiration regarding date ranges in your collection search efforts. Researching information such as when certain Victorian styles became popular or when new products used in production entered into use can help you hone your date estimations for certain items within your collection with greater precision and accuracy than if you only relied on shape characteristics or backstamps alone—utilize these combined methods!

Caring for English Pottery

English Pottery is a popular item for collectors due to its exquisite designs and historical value. To ensure that your collection remains in the best condition possible, it is important to take proper care of your pieces. From regular dusting to storing your collection correctly, there are several steps that you can take to make sure your English Pottery lasts for years to come. Let’s dive into the details:

Cleaning English Pottery

English pottery is prized for its antiquity and beauty, requiring a delicate hand and careful cleaning to preserve its unique character. When cleaning English pottery, use only a soft cotton cloth and distilled water; some owners prefer to wet the cloth slightly with lukewarm water containing mild soap or detergent, gently massaging the fabric onto the pottery in small circles. Rinse carefully with more clean water, making sure there is no residue from the detergent or soap. Dishwashing liquids are too strong for antique pottery and can react to older glazes by clouding them or making them sticky.

When drying English pottery, use a soft clean cotton cloth and wipe away any excess moisture. If needed, you can place your piece on an absorbent pad such as an old towel or newspaper to absorb extra moisture when necessary; never place antique pottery on direct heat or place it over flames as this can cause temperatures to rise too quickly which can crack porcelain or damage ceramic glazes. Finally, avoid storing ceramic pieces in direct sunlight as the rays may damage the surface of your pieces over time. With proper handling, you will be able to enjoy English Pottery for years to come!

Storing English Pottery

English pottery is a classic material with a variety of decorative and practical applications. With proper care and maintenance, English pottery pieces can last for generations.

The most important thing to remember when storing English pottery is moisture—it’s ultimately the enemy of all ceramic items. To minimize contact with moisture, it’s best to keep the pieces in a dry area away from humidity and direct sunlight. Ensure the area is well-ventilated so there are no stagnant air pockets where water vapor can seep into the ceramic and cause damage. Also be sure to keep them dust-free by wiping them down regularly with a soft, lint-free cloth.

In order to prevent chips and cracks, store your pieces in an orderly manner on shelves or inside boxes that are specifically designed for ceramic storage. Keep similar items together as far as possible (porcelain separate from earthenware, etc). Place bubble wrap or acid‑free tissue paper between each item before wrapping the entire item in archival-quality tissue paper or cloth fabric – this will provide further protection against scratches, chips, and breaks over time. If you do not have an appropriate storage facility or supplies available, visit your local professional collectibles shop for additional advice on how best to care for your English pottery pieces.


Collecting English Pottery can be a very rewarding hobby and with the right guidance, knowledge, and experience you can build up an impressive collection. English pottery can be a tricky area to navigate but with the right guidance and know-how, you can find some true gems.

In this article, we have discussed all the elements you need to consider when collecting English pottery. We have discussed the various kinds of pottery available, the best places to buy it and the value of your pottery collection. Now that we are finished, let’s take a look at our conclusion.

Summary of English Pottery

English pottery is an enduring tradition and a cornerstone of European culture. Dating back to the 16th century, it encompasses a huge range of various styles and techniques, and continues to inspire contemporary potters all over the world.

The most common types of English pottery include:

Earthenware – is generally characterized by its unrefined construction from locally sourced materials.

Stoneware – bears resemblance to earthenware but is oven-fired at much higher temperatures.

Porcelain – made from kaolin clay combined with quartz; this type of pottery was introduced to England in 1745 via the East India Company after being developed in China centuries before.

Salt-glazed ware – salt has been added during firing to create an impermeable glaze that strengthens and enhances the color of the ware.

Slipware – so named for clay ‘slips’ – liquid clay poured over a mould – often used in the production process.

For centuries, pottery has been an important part of day-to-day life in England – be it functional pieces used for cooking or decorative items displayed as conversational points around a dining room table. Recognizing the immense cultural value brought by these artifacts makes collecting them all the more special for future generations who will inherit them as apart of their ancestry’s legacy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is English Pottery?

A: English pottery is pottery made in England or in the style of English pottery, including earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain.

Q: Where can I find English Pottery?

A: English Pottery can be found in antique stores, online auctions, flea markets, and estate sales.

Q: How do I know if I’m buying authentic English Pottery?

A: You can identify authentic English Pottery by looking for certain characteristics such as the maker’s mark, the type of glaze and clay used, and the style and decoration.