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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Delftware: New England? Y/N

Hello, everyone! I'd like start by thanking you all for the kind wishes on my last post♥ 
I finally broke my fever last night and am feeling much better today (or tonight, I should say, since I'm writing this so late.)
I'm also having a "snow-day" tomorrow, so life is looking better already!

Now, moving on to my topic.
I was reading Lorna Barrett's post this afternoon on her lovely china collection,
which got me thinking about my favorite type of pottery:  


I instantly wanted to post about it, but then grew conflicted, since Delftware did not originate in New England. But, after doing a little research and discussing it with my mom (my handy historian), I came to an understanding that, although Delftware was Dutch in origin and the Dutch did not settle in New England, they still traded with the New Englanders nonetheless (and it's safe to assume some of their goods were Delftware.) Furthermore, some Dutch potters emigrated to Britain, and in turn, traded directly with the Colonies. That explains why many wealthy New England households owned some Delftware.

With that said, I ultimately feel this is appropriate for my blog, and it would be my pleasure to share with you a little history of it, along with some photographs:

Many people think of Delft as a simple ceramic decorated in blue with windmills or flowers. In fact that merely represents a tiny portion of Delftware.
At the beginning of the 17th Century the potters in the Dutch city of Delft began to produce plates, dishes, plaques, tiles, pots and vases. They developed these from European Majolica, but were also influenced by Chinese porcelain. Over the next l½ centuries they made a product that was to turn their city into a household name. Many pieces were decorated in blue, but polychrome (multi colour) was also used. Some pieces were very simple and others sophisticated and highly decorated. At the peak, over 30 potteries produced Delftware using a tin-glaze technique. The Royal Kingston, Royal Delft exhibition displayed many 17th and 18th century pieces, illustrating the development from the early beginnings to this so-called "Golden Age".
Some Dutch potters relocated to Britain in the 17th Century and thus Delftware was also made in England (particularly in London), Scotland and Ireland.
In the 18th Century, English ceramics (particularly Wedgewood) surpassed Delftware, leading to the closure of most of the Delftware factories. By the mid-19th Century, only one Delftware factory remained: De Porceleyne Fles ("The Porcelain Bottle").
Founded in 1653, De Porceleyne Fles changed ownership in 1876. The new owner wanted to revive Delftware by using new production techniques and new artistic styles. A substantial increase in public interest followed, and the "Royal" predicate appeared in the early 20th Century: Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles, Anno 1653 or Royal Delft.
Porceleyne Fles Delft is made and painted entirely by hand. As the company's products gained international acclaim, the interest in Delftware grew tremendously. This gave rise to a plethora of imitations and inexpensive tourist souvenirs, most of which are transfer-painted.
The interest in both antique and modern Delftware is at an all-time high."

Delftware is so beautiful, not only in an aesthetic-sense, but in an historical one. Much of its pottery depicts various illustrations of religious scenes, native Dutch scenes (fishing and hunting scenes, land and seascapes), and according to Wikipedia: "Sets of plates were made with the words and music of songs; dessert was served on them and when the plates were clear the company started singing"

... how adorable is that?

Delft plate (intended for the French market) with the song, "To the Too Quick Lover" (c. 1747)
Lyrics in English:
You hear me well
You know not to hold yourself
And me I cannot finish
My beauty excites you
Ah well
And you do too quick
You hear me well

Plaque of the Prophet Elijah being fed by the Ravens (c. 1658)

Delftware Dish (c. 1750)

Naively painted with the Dutch fleet at the Doggersbankbattle 
in honour to the Dutch commander “Zoutman” (post 1781)

Blue and White Tile with a Hare (c. 1620-1650)

Soldier (c. 1780)

Adam & Eve (c. 1770)

Four tiles (c. 1780)

Poseidon (c. 1660)

Beautiful group of nautical themed tiles (c. 1670)

Purple Delft tiles (c. 1770)

Delftware made today, hand-made at Royal Delft:



And, last but not least, the most charming usage of Delftware (in my opinion):
Bordered around a fireplace!


So, whether or not Delftware can be thought of as authentically "New England,"
there's no denying that it had a huge influence on all the colonies.
Not to mention, it looks perfect in any old New England home


  1. Hi Erin, so glad you're much better! I love Delftware too - I have some sweet miniature bud vases & dishes inherited from my grandmother. Also, when we were young, some great friends of my parents had a really old house & in one of the rooms (they called it the parlour!) was a fireplace completely tiled in old Delft tiles...SO beautiful. Lovely things, lovely you. Stay well xox Rachel

  2. Lovely, thank you for sharing this! I didn't know about Delftware.

  3. The most common use of Delft during colonial times here and in England was as border to fireplaces. The tiles were usually always Biblical themes telling a story. Beautiful.

  4. are you familiar with dedham pottery? if not, google it and check it out. i think you will like it and they are in dedham, mass. i have a bunch of it.

  5. Jaz, just looked up Dedham pottery, and its really beautiful (and authentically New England)! Thanks for the info :)

  6. Hi Erin,
    I love Delft too, so much so that we visited the factory when we were in Holland and of course we had to bring back a few goodies!
    Glad you are feeling better xo

  7. Hi Erin..glad to hear you're feeling on the mend...deltware..oh..i love it too

    that bedroom..with that oil paintingof the ship..and the fireplace and the windows and the deltware...

    AND...i have been thinking about doing a post on an old book i have sitting here on my green and red stenciled trunk from VERMONT that was written by MARY MASON CAMPBELL...

    are you sure we don't have the same dna?

    sending get well wishes and love,

  8. Look slike you are taking photos of my dream life - I love this stuff , glad I found you. Stop by my place if you get a moment too!


Thanks for your thoughts!

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