Category Archives: Knowledge/History of Antique Item

Deception in Blue and White

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Enoch Wood Grapevine Border Series dinner plates and platters. 1820. England.

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Exterior wall. We believe this is the view the artist was recreating on the engraving used on the soup plate.

We collect Enoch Wood Grapevine Border Series transferware. They are blue and white dishes from 1820 and feature scenes of English Castles and Manor Houses. The border of these pieces are a grapevine transfer. On the back of most of the pieces is the name of building and it’s county. The image usually comes from an engraving in a series of books by John Preston Neale. He went around the countryside drawing the houses and writing a description for the books.

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Close up of the castle scene of an Enoch Wood Grapevine Border soup plate.

When we tour around England on antique buying trips, we try to stop at an “Enoch Wood” grapevine house that we have in our collection. Most of the houses have either been destroyed, are ruined or completely gone, but some are still standing and it’s our mission to visit them and photograph them.

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Design of Goodrich Castle.

During our September trip, we wanted to see Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire. Now, we don’t have a dish with that name on the bottom, but we do have a Goodridge Castle, Kent soup plate and Goodridge does not exist. We couldn’t find a Goodridge Castle, no matter where we looked. So, we thought maybe the Wood Pottery, got the name wrong.

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Standing on the east wall walk. The keep is on the right.

Before we went to the England, we did our research. The books do not have an engraving of a Goodridge. The internet was no help, because the scene on our dish did not match etchings of Goodrich Castle, nor did the internet know of a Goodridge Castle. The description of Goodrich Castle on the internet kind of made us think that perhaps, Wood got it wrong, since there were references to Goodrich being associated with both counties, Herefordshire and Kent.

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View of the castle from the 1500s.

So, either way, we headed for Goodrich, hoping that it would be incorrectly identified as Goodridge and we’ll have checked another of our scenes off our list.

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The keep built in the mid 12th c.

Our first stop was to the gift shop. English Heritage cares for Goodrich Castle, as it does for over 400 properties, and their staff is quite knowledgeable about the properties history. Unfortunately, none of them recognized the scene we showed them of our dish, although they agreed that the church was in the right place and so was the river. They went into their storage room and pulled out various engravings, but none of them matched. They were very helpful, but not helpful at all. So, we headed out of the gift shop and up the gravel road to the actual castle.

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The stone causeway leading to the gatehouse, which was built in the mid 13th century.

We were excited to see it in person. Of all the castles we’ve seen, we crawled over every inch of it, from the furthest point in the moat to the highest tower. It is a beautiful, but forlorned ruin. It was built in the 1101 as a hill-top castle, and suffered during the English Civil War in 1646. It was slighted (meaning it was made inhabitable) in 1647, so it could never be used against the royals again. In 1919, a huge chunk of the walls fell in and what was left of the castle was dangerous to visit.

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The incorrect printed mark on the back of the EWG soup plate. We believe it should say Part of Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire.

So, this is what we think. We believe that Goodrich, Herefordshire is the correct label for the soup plate labeled Goodridge, Kent and Enoch Wood got it wrong. The label on the bottom of our soup plate should have said Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire. From 1616-1740, the owners of Goodrich Castle was a line of succession of the Earl of Kent. Hence, the county of Kent comes into the picture (Goodridge, Kent). And during its history, Goodrich had been called Guthridge Castle for a period of time. There are many deviations on the name Goodrich, including Goodridge and Guthridge (Goodridge, Kent)

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The view from the rock cut ditch.

We also believe the artist took liberties with their drawing, getting the aspect wrong. The elements in the transfer are correct but the angle is skewed. We think the artist stood in the sw corner of the site and sketched the castle from the moat area and then drew in the people by the river in the foreground. You can stand in the moat and the windows of Goodrich Castle match with the transfer of Goodridge Castle.

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Interior view of the Great Hall.

Maybe we’re wrong, but we love playing detective and solving mysteries, especially ones that don’t have a dead body. And we did look in the bushes, just to make sure.

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The northwest tower remains.

 

This is our sixth blog on our September trip. One more to go!

 

 

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Trench Art Explained

We don’t carry trench art but we see pieces every time we visit England. When we toured the WWI Museum in Kansas City last weekend, we saw this explanation. So, we thought we share.

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Dennis’s Pig Powder

We bought this sign in England a few years ago, about 30 miles from its point of origin. Pig powder was developed by John W. Dennis and manufactured in Louth England from 1870. It was a nutritional supplement for pig feed to prevent disease and produce more bacon. The pig powder was still being produced in 1940. Other company items included Dennis’s Carrotine Butter Colouring, Dennis’s Cheese Colouring, Dennis’s Poultry Powder and Dennis’s Worm Powder for Pigs.

John W. Dennis and Fred W. Dennis operated a Druggist and Chemist shop along with a Wine and Spirits store at #77 Eastgate in Louth. Fred bowed out of the business in December 1899, when the company became John Dennis and Sons and was located on Northgate. We regularly visit Louth on our buying trips. On our next visit, we’ll stop and look for the store front.

Look for antiques with provenance and be careful when buying online. We have seen poorly made reproductions of this sign with modern graphics. Buyers beware!

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In a Bottle Oven

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Inside the factory, which is made up of several buildings and four bottle ovens.

After visiting Chester, we headed towards Ashbourne (lots of antique stores), but first, stopped in at the Gladstone Pottery Museum in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

Maybe, a pottery museum wouldn’t make the top ten lists of the average English tourist. But, we have a collection of early British pottery and are members of the Transferware Collectors Club, so it’s been on our bucket list for several years.

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Stoke-on-Trent is south of Manchester in the heart of industrial England. It was here that Enoch Wood and Josiah Wedgwood started potteries to compete with the influx of china from the Far East in the 1700s. Several towns make up the Stoke-on-Trent area, also known as The Potteries. On the back of historic china and pearlware, you’ll find the names of Tunstall, Burselem, Stoke, Fenton, Longton, and Hanley. We’re sure you’ve heard of Staffordshire, an English county and a term used to loosely group different types of pottery.

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Plates ready for firing.

The Gladstone Pottery Museum is preserved as the last complete Victorian Pottery factory. In the 19th century, hundreds of factories existed in the area, where the natural resources of coal, sand, lead, and clay were available. Thousands of bottle ovens dotted the landscapes, since most factories had several. The Gladstone is an important industrial heritage site and an interesting museum devoted to sharing the story of the process and the workers who risked their lives to provide the world with pottery, china and tiles.

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The color gallery.

Gladstone was a small pottery that made household bone china and they had five bottle ovens. They employed men, women and children and was typical of the hundreds of factories in Staffordshire. We explored the exhibits, watched live demonstrations and climbed into the bottle ovens.

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Standing inside the outer shell and looking into a semi-full kiln. Individual items were placed inside the cylinders.

The ovens were the most interesting. The bottle shape that you see was the outer wall of the kiln. Inside was the actual oven. It would be stacked with thousands of pieces of china then fired. The kiln fireman would stand inside the outer shell and keep the fires stoked with coal for 2 days. The heat must have been extreme, to say the least! The air thick with coal smoke.

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Sample color pigments.

There was an unbelievable amount of work that went into making a plate or cup. Every step required an expert skilled worker and several support staff. And there were many, many steps. On the lives of all these people, the world got its dishes. The Gladstone Museum does a fine job of giving us a glimpse into the lives of the workers and the Industrial Revolution.

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A sample color plate.

Up next, our visit to Belton House. Thanks for reading!

 

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A Mangle Board 

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Mangle Board

At a Copenhagen flea market, we found a mangle board. A mangle board is a carved board that was used to remove water and press the wrinkles out of woven cloth. The cloth was wrapped around a round rolling pin. Then, the user would press the mangle into the cloth wrapped rolling pin. This early ironing contraption was used before handheld heated metal iron.

Mangle boards were used throughout Europe between the 1500s and 1800s. Often they were given as a courting gift. Highly carved, they often had horses as handles. In the Scandinavian countries, the horse represented virility. The one we found has a horse handle with a horsehair tail. The carving was done as chip-carving, a traditionally Scandinavian style. Although we bought it in Denmark, it resembles a Swedish board. Today, mangle boards are collected as folk art.

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22 Yards Mapped Out the World

Mapping out Property with a Gunter’s Chain


In a world of GPS, a Gunter’s Chain is a true antique. It’s a surveyor’s tool for measuring a tract of land. It was primarily used from 1620, when it was developed by Edmund Gunter, until the start of the 20th century.

A Gunter’s Chain is a metal chain made up of 100 links and measures 22 yards. At the end of a group of 10 links is a metal tag. Metal detector enthusiasts often find these tags while out hunting for treasures.

The device was used for 300 years, along with a compass, by surveyors to preform their legal duties. These duties included measuring a designated tract of land, drawing a map of the land features and providing a written description of the land.

For cricket fans, here’s a bit of trivia: it is also used to measure the cricket pitch.

Our friend Stephanie pointed out this interesting item on our last trip to England, so, of course, we bought not one, but two!

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Wedding Luck

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The traditional rhyme for bringing good luck to a bride:

Something old,
something new,
something borrowed,
something blue,
and a silver sixpence in her shoe.

What is a sixpence? Minted in England from 1551 to 1967, it is no longer legal tender in England since 1980. When it was, it was only worth 6 pennies. Not much to attract wealth and success to a new marriage. Cheaper than a lottery ticket and probably more wise.

It is thought to be of Scottish influence and the sixpence would be placed in the bride’s left shoe by her father. By doing so, he was wishing the best for the bridge. Luckily, it’s a small coin, about the size of an American dime. A bride has enough on her mind than worrying about a coin in her shoe.

Silver stopped being used in 1946. It hasn’t stopped the tradition of the lucky coin. Besides brides, Royal Air Force crews use them as lucky charms.

We picked up a couple on our last trip, so if you want to surprise someone getting ready to race down the aisle, stop by and pick one up for them.

 

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“Roses and Castles” on Useful Household Objects.

Sample of "Roses"

Sample of “Roses”

We like to buy folk art pieces for the store because of the combination of art and utility. At any given time, we will have hooked rugs, lace, woven pillowcases, samplers, painted paper mache’ trays, woven coverlets, and toleware for sale in the store. The last time we shopped in England, we found several examples of another folk art, the “Roses and Castles”.

Folk art milk jug at the store.

Folk art milk jug at the store.

“Roses and Castles” is another name for folk art made by people who sail the narrowboats on the canals in England. There are more than 2,000 miles of canals in England and Wales and it is estimated that over 35,000 narrowboats, or canal boats are sailing today. Just imagine spending the summer leisurely sailing and crisscrossing the island. As you sail, you decorate your watering can using your paints and brush.

A traditional paintwork.

A traditional paintwork.

Painting objects on the narrowboats began in the late 1800s, when many of the working boats were turned into homes, rather than for transporting cargo. Typically, the rose is the illustration used on regular household and garden objects, pails, buckets, watering cans, etc. More elaborate items have painted castles on them. The interior and exterior of the narrowboats are also painted, as are door frames and windows.

Rose motif

Rose motif

Stop by the store and take a look around at the folk art pieces. Be inspired to create or surround yourself with beautiful objects that make you smile.

A Rose and Castle lidded jug. English, antique.

A Rose and Castle lidded jug. English, antique.

Watering can, English, metal, painted with "Roses", narrowboat antique.

Watering can, English, metal, painted with “Roses”, narrowboat antique.

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Exceed Her Expectations.

Love Spoons carved by the labor of love.

Welsh Love Spoon.

Welsh Love Spoon.

In the store, we currently have a wonderful example of an antique Welsh Love Spoon. Carved from one piece of wood, this gift of a love spoon is intended for the one you love.

The tradition of love spoons probably began in the mid-1600s in Wales. During the long winter months, a man would carve the spoon and handle and then present it to the girl they were courting. Versions of the love spoon tradition are found across Europe. Sailors also carved love spoons on their journeys.

No two spoons are alike. Each representing the skill of the carver and the symbols he used to demonstrate his affection. Some spoons are simple and others use a variety of carving techniques to showcase the carver’s abilities.

Our spoon was purchased in England and contains several symbols. The heart represents love. The key and keyhole represent home and security. The daffodil and the dragon are symbols of Wales and the dragon also stands for protection. The linked chain shows the carving skills of the gentleman and represents his captured love. The anchor, his wish to settle down with his love. With this spoon, the carver is saying a lot to his chosen girl.

We can’t help but wonder what was her response to the gift of the spoon. Did the couple live happily ever after? What will you give your love this Valentine’s Day?

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Exhibition of Printed British Pottery and Porcelain.

One of our collection of Enoch Wood Grapevine Border Series, Lismore.

One of our collection of Enoch Wood Grapevine Border Series, Lismore.

 

Back in the spring, we were pleased to assist with an international team project to produce an online exhibition of Printed British Pottery and Porcelain. Through much trial and error on our part, we photographed our vast collection of Enoch Wood Grapevine Border Series for the exhibition. Photography is not something we score high marks on, but luckily, the grapevine border series has wonderful shades of blue and scenes that masked our feeble attempts.

Transferware is one of our passions, as is history. We were honored to be a part of this team effort where our passions combined. This exhibition does a great job of explaining the importance of this specialized industry to Great Britain. If you are interested in printed pottery, we recommend you take a look at the website.

Here is the official press release and a link to the exhibition.

A new online exhibition of Printed British Pottery and Porcelain was launched on October 17, 2014, during a special day-long visit to the Winterthur Museum as part of the Transferware Collectors Club annual meeting. The exhibit, a joint project of the Northern Ceramic Society and the Transferware Collectors Club, relates the remarkable story of the production of printed pottery and porcelain in Great Britain from 1750 to 1900. Designed for the enjoyment of a broad audience from the ceramic novice to the advanced collector and researcher of printed British wares, the exhibition introduces visitors to all aspects of Great Britain’s proud and vibrant industry.

Visitors to the site are invited to travel through the history of printed pottery and porcelain, learn about the factories that produced it, explore the various methods used to print designs on wares and view the more than 1,000 items carefully selected for the exhibition catalog. The site’s exhibition curators have endeavored to select items that represent all methods of printing used by a wide variety of factories producing printed ceramics: Included are examples of overglaze and underglaze printing–both bat and hot-press printed– in single, multi- color printed, as well as printed and painted items. A wide variety of shapes including rare and unique items are presented. Items selected for the exhibition were provided by individual contributors and auctioneers as well as museums including Winterthur.

The new exhibition follows the success of two other online exhibitions— spodeceramics.com, presenting the history and products of the first Spode factory, co-developed with the Winterthur Museum, the Potteries Museum and the Transferware Collectors Club (TCC), and a second, americanhistoricalstaffordshire.com, featuring English pottery made between 1818 and 1835 decorated with American themed dark blue transfer prints, co- sponsored by the Winterthur Museum, Historic New England and the TCC.

These exhibitions showcase the benefits of organizations with similar interests, from both sides of the Atlantic, that are willing to commit funding and the efforts of many volunteers to create a meaningful and educational experience for people interested in printed pottery and porcelain. As with the previous online exhibitions, Printed British Pottery and Porcelain will welcome visitors from around the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Visit the exhibition at www.printedbritishpotteryandporcelain.com

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