Antique Spotlight – Early China

Antique Spotlight – Early China
Some of the earliest china exported to the United States included Gaudy Dutch, Adams, Victorian Chelsea, and Spatterware.


Dating between 1812 and 1850, pottery known as "Gaudy Dutch" was one of the first ceramics made specifically for exporting to America. It is a soft paste pottery made in Staffordshire, England. Because its decoration is applied over the glaze and not protected, it is often scratched, flaked, or worn. Gaudy Dutch was not made in large quantities, and is therefore difficult to find.

Typically strong reds and blues were used to decorate Gaudy Dutch. Some designs appear to be adaptations of Japanese Imari patterns, while others were distinctly chosen to appeal to an American market. Pattern names include Indian War Bonnet, Urn, Oyster, Dhalia, and Carnation. Floral motifs are stylistic rather than natural, so it often requires a bit of imagination to identify them as roses or other flowers.

A similar style of pottery is called Roseware, which features more delicate patterns with a "feminine" character. Colors are lighter and less bold in design.


The Adams family has been producing pottery for more than 300 years. William Adams was the first to attempt copper-plate printing in Staffordshire around 1775. Later, family members more fully developed transfer printing and produced several patterns for export to the United States and Mexico.

They are well-known for the Adams Rose pattern, produced between 1860 and 1900, and widely copied by many other potteries. The design is simple, with a brightly colored rose and surrounding green foliage.


In 1830, potteries in Staffordshire began producing a frosting-white tableware called "Chelsea." Some pieces have a maker's mark on the back, but most are unmarked. Chelsea is characterized by decorative relief sprays of flowers or grapes that vary in color from a pale lavender to a deep blue-purple. Sometimes the pattern is painted with lustre, giving it a shiny, metallic look. The plates are usually six, eight, or twelve sided.


Spatterware was manufactured in England for export to the United States and other countries between 1810 and 1850. It is brightly colored, utilitarian tableware that is highly prized among collectors today.

Spatterware is characterized by colorful decorations and primitive designs. The spattering process is simple. A sponge is dipped in paint, and the color is dabbed evenly around the edge of the piece or over the entire surface. After a glaze is applied, the pottery is fired to seal the color.

Background colors vary from a single color to a combination of blue, red, green, pink, purple, yellow, brown, and black. Yellow is the most rare, followed by green. Red, blue, and pink are the most common.

Peafowl is one of the most widely collected patterns. Although it might look like modern artwork, the peafowl pattern is actually more than a century old! The birds are usually done in a combination of three colors, such as green neck and breast, yellow body, and red tail. Other combinations are blue/yellow/green and blue/yellow/red.

Other popular patterns include:

Schoolhouse: A red or blue boxlike building in the center with three white windows, a yellow roof, a small grass plot and a tree

Flowers: A central design, most commonly red or blue, with tulips, Adams rose, carnations, sunflowers, or thistle

Star: Used as a central motif

The Pennsylvania Dutch particularly loved spatterware, which was its largest market. There are over 60 known patterns of Spatterware, and very few pieces are marked.

Next week we will explore Bavarian china, Germany’s finest!

You Should Also Read:
Antique Spotlight -- Staffordshire Pottery
Antique Spotlight -- Wedgwood and Royal Doulton
Antique Spotlight -- Majolica

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