Late 18th Century and Early Nineteenth Century Porcelain Handles: Loop, Ring & Wishbone

One of the most striking features of porcelain collecting is the array of different handles used in the early nineteenth century. However, frequently used designs incorporated aspects of the loop, ring and wishbone patterns.

Simple loop handles: these handles are a single loop. These can be plain or adorned. In this example of a Newhall cup decorated in pattern 155, the handle has gilt decoration on the handle sides and down the centre.Figure 1


Ring handle – a ring handle has circle within the handle. This example is an Old Derby coffee can dating to about 1810. Figure 2


Wishbone Handle – the wishbone handle looks like a J shape. The top part of the handle is often flat for the thumb to hold, then the lower part of the handle forms the second part of the wishbone. This is shown in the lovely Old Derby teacup below. In this instance the handle is undecorated.Figure 3b


Rudolstadt Porcelain

The antique porcelain market in the UK is dominated by a combination of Chinese porcelain and English porcelain  from Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Derby. Strangely the English buyer of porcelain seems to be less well informed about continental porcelain. Thus in the UK porcelain from France, Germany and Austria is not always fully appreciated. Take for example Rudolstadt porcelain.  Although easily recognized by buyers in Europe and North America, Rudolstadt remains pretty much unrecognised in the UK, with some of the beautiful Rudolstadt blushware pieces being mistaken by British buyers for Royal Worcester!

Figure1aThe history of Rudolstadt porcelain goes back to 1869 when the German company Lazarus Straus & Sons (L.S.&S) was established to sell imported  ceramics. The Younger member of this partnership Nathan Strauss must have had a very good entrepreneurial mind because in 1874 it seems he managed to form a business agreement with none other than R.H.Macy’s & Co. For those not familiar with Macy’s, R.H.Macy is a mid to upper range US chain of department stores initially established by Rowland Hussey Macy who opened 4 dry goods stores between 1843 and 1855. These initial businesses failed but he eventually moved to New York where he opened R.H.Macy & Co on 6th Avenue. The business grew and despite some difficulties along the way gave rise to the huge chain store brand that Macey’s represents today.

This business relationship between Nathan Strauss and Macey’s allowed Lazarus Straus & Sons retail space in every Macey’s store, thus opening up the US export market.  This actually led to the formation of a US company, New York and Rudolstadt Pottery Co. Inc. 1882. This US company traded in the porcelain manufactured in and shipped over from the German factory, which functioned independently from its US partner.

Figure3aTo meet the growing demand of its growing export market Lazarus Straus & Sons expanded, Figure2aopening decorating studios in France and Bohemia giving rise to L.S.& S. Limoges’ and the Austrian ‘L.S.&S. Carlsbad. Both these decorating studios used their own decorators mark. However, the mark used in Germany revolved around a crown over a shield shaped lozenge containing the letters RW for Rudolstadt Works. Variations of this mark were used between 1895 and 1924, with a more ornate version being used between 1900 and 1918.

The quality of the porcelain and the quality of the painting was superb and Lazarus Straus & Sons porcelain rivaled the very best porcelain manufactured across Europe and the US. Take for example the lovely pair of Rudolstadt vases shown in Figure 1.  They are of a classical form  with a long  ovoid body extending up towards a partially fluted  neck. The form of the vases is finished with lovely ornate handles extending from the necks to the vase bodies.  The form of these vases alone is not only pleasing to the eye, but incredibly tactile. However the story does not stop there.  These blush ivory vases have been richly decorated with stunning flowers, and leaves with fine tube lining of the leaf veins in gilt and tube lining of the petal extremities to give the painting a rich almost three dimensional quality (Figure 2). Each vase is truly a work of art and caries the more ornate Rudolstadt  (figure 3) mark indicating a date of manufacture between 1900 and 1918.

The Fischer & Mieg Jug circa 1860

Fischer and Mieg was founded in 1802 by Johann Gottlob List and Friedrich Höcke under the company name of Friedrich Höcke. The company was then sold to Christopher Reichenbach and Christian Nonne in 1811 who gained financial support from Martin Fischer. The company grew and acquired a license to produce porcelain in 1822. The company was then taken over by Christian Fischer who married Emma Karolina von Mieg. Christian studied at the National Manufactory in Sèvres, France and is credited with the formalisation of Bohemian shapes and designs. The company, then known as Christian Fischer was sold to his son, Rudolf Karl Fischer, and son in-law, Ludwig von Mieg, giving rise to the company name Fischer and Mieg. The company was sold within the family several times until in 1908 it was sold to Wilhelm and Victor Maier. Wilhelm and Victor Maier maintained the brand but sold out to Oepiag and Epiag in 1920. However, they continued manufacturing porcelain under the name Fischer and Mieg until it was nationalized in 1946 to form part of Starorolský Porcelán.

Fischer & Mieg Jug Blog1Fischer and Mieg were renowned for the very high quality of their porcelain and also for their exquisite designs. Take for example the Fischer and Meig jug in Figure 1. This jug is quite unusual, not just because of the stunning decoration but also because of the lovely design (Figure 1). The jug is of a lovely tactile, well balanced ovoid spoutless form. It is 8 & ½ inches (21.6cm) high and is decorated in a very eye catching pattern consisting of hand painted gilded green and red flowers with gilded green foliage inhabited by green gilded birds. The over all effect is quite stunning.

The base of this particular jug is unmarked. However, we also have a number of plates in the same pattern carrying the Fischer and Mieg  impressed mark for 1860 -1870. The jug is in an excellent condition with no chips cracks or repairs. The enamels are in a lovely condition but there is some age related wear to the gilded decoration. This is to be expected in a piece that is around 140 to 150 years old. The jug is currently  for sale  via our Ruby Lane shop.

The Influence of Chamberlain and Grainger on the Evolution of Royal Worcester

Robert Chamberlain, the head of the decorating department for Dr John Wall the founder of the Worcester porcelain company, established his own company at Warmstry House, King Street, Worcester. This new company initially painted blanks manufactured by other companies, but steadily expanded into the manufacture of his own wares. By the Regency period Chamberlain Worcester had acquired some fame for the very quality of his hand painted porcelain. His clients included Lord Nelson, and also the Prince Regent who granted the company his Royal Warrant in 1807. Chamberlain’s success was reflected in the way that he sold his wares via his shop at 33 Worcester High Street and via his fashionable London show room, initial set up at no 63 Piccadilly but eventually moving to 155 New Bond Street in 1816. Needless to say Chamberlain porcelain became a significant rival of Flight Bar and Grainger.Chamberlain Worcester Cabinet Plate 1




Figure 1: A Chamberlain & Co Worcester Cabinet plate dating from between 1840 and 1852. This plate can be purchased from our Ruby Lane shop.

By the early mid 1800s competition and changes in the economic climate meant that the ceramics industry had changed. To accommodate this change Chamberlain merged with Flight, Barr & Barr, giving rise to Chamberlain & Co in 1840. The new company continued to produce very high quality hand painted porcelain until 1851 (Figure 1). In 1851 Walter Chamberlain retired and the company was taken over by the Dublin business man William Kerr. Kerr invested heavily in modernizing the Chamberlain factory and building up an extremely talented team. Kerr returned to Ireland in 1862 leaving the company in the hands of Richard Binn, who formed The Worcester Royal Porcelain Co. Ltd, which of course evolved into Royal Worcester.Grainger Bird Plate 1

Figure 2: A Grainger porcelain cabinet plate dating to 1896 painted with what look like finches in a mystical woodland scene. This plate can be purchased from our Ruby Lane shop.

Another important Worcester porcelain manufacturer that played an important part in the development of Royal Worcester was Granger & Wood. Thomas Grainger, an apprentice at Robert Chamberlain’s Worcester china factory, and John Wood established Grainger & Wood in 1801. They produced very high quality ornamental porcelain using rich patterns that competed with Chamberlain and Flight Barr. The Grainger & Wood china works moved to St Martin’s Gate in 1809 following a factory fire. By 1839, the factory was owned by George Grainger (Thomas Grainger’s son) and started to produce exquisite Neo-Roccoco style decorative china. In 1889, following the death of George Grainger, the factory was sold to Royal Worcester.Worcester Grainger Reticulated Vase 1899 1

Figure 3: A beautiful Grainger & Co reticulated vase by Alfred Barry dated to 1899. Note the typical curvilinear design. This vase can be purchased from our Ruby Lane shop.

During this time Granger & Co continued to make high quality ornamental ware including cabinet plates (Figure 2) and beautiful Reticulated (Pierced) wares (Figure 3). During this period the Grainger reticulated porcelain was mostly the work of Alfred Barry. He produced pierced wares with quite a distinct and incredibly beautiful curvilinear design (Figure 3). Grainger reticulated wares of this quality are becoming quite hard to find.

Royal Worcester continued to produce extremely high quality Grainger china at the St Martin’s Gate factory (then called the Royal China Works) right up until 1902.

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