Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chinese Porcelain

(Tindall, The Magazine Antiques, 1975)

Time for our weekly ceramics update!

Chinese porcelain started showing up on early colonial sites in America during the 17th Century but no exact date can be determined on when it started to appear (Noel Hume, 1969). During the 17th and early 18th Century, Chinese porcelain was not a common ware to be found in the homes of anyone except the affluent. After the 18th Century it becomes very commonplace in almost all colonial sites in America as much of it was being made specifically for export and the craftmanship had become less important than the quantity.

Chinese porcelain can be distinguished from other ceramics by its high gloss finish and very thin body which at times can be almost translucent when held up to light. It is almost always painted blue underthe glaze. Late in the 18th Century a red enamel on top of the glaze was used as well.

During our excavations of STP's at Port Tobacco we have uncovered many fragments of Chinese porcelain. Unfortunately none of the pieces recovered have any decoration and are very small which makes it very difficult to date the particular pieces. Many European and later American companies tried to imitate the Chinese porcelain with very little success.

Here is an example of a set of 18th-century Chinese porcelain tea set. Enjoy and I'll be back Wednesday with an update on our lab work at the Maryland Historical Trust.


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