Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn takes a look at what first introduced him to antiques...
It’s coming up to St George’s Day, so I wanted to feature collectables that are typically English. Royal Worcester has been a passion of mine for more than 40 years. In fact, it was admiration for Royal Worcester which first introduced me to antiques. It’s my favourite pottery and always a pleasure to discuss.
Could there be anything more English than Royal Worcester? “By Royal Appointment” ever since 1811, the Worcester Factory was founded on June 4, 1751, by a group of 15 craftsmen.
Despite changing hands many times over the next 300 years, in every era Worcester remained one of the most sophisticated manufacturers in terms of their designs and technology, producing porcelain wares of the very highest quality.
Worcester’s style was typically neo-classical, using very defined lines (copying the shapes of silver ware) with delicate gilding and distinctive use of colours – puce green, salmon pink and navy were all typical Worcester colours. Much Worcester decoration is almost photographic in its detail.
Early (pre-1755) Worcester has a distinctive green tinge caused by soapstone. Fortuitously, this inclusion meant Worcester porcelain was able to cope with boiling water. As a result, their tea sets became highly popular. A single cup and saucer from this era may well be worth hundreds of pounds.
This gorgeous dish is a fantastic example of the exquisite decoration that Worcester was so famous for. Made in 1925, it was painted by William Sedgley, who was known as being Worcester’s expert at painting “Hadley Roses”. It has been well looked after and is in very good condition. It is worth between £250 to £300.
In 1783, manufacturing changes resulted in a brilliantly hard, smoother porcelain. This made it very suitable for modelling, but early figurative pieces are rare and it was not until the 19th century that Worcester became famed for figures.
Although retaining classic lines, Worcester became comparatively extravagant around the beginning of the 19th century, using a much wider variety of colours. They adapted quickly to new trends such as Japanese-themed pieces in the late 19th century, and continued to commission some of the best artists throughout the 20th century.
In 2008 Royal Worcester went into administration, but the licence was quickly acquired by The Portmeirion Group, so the production of this beautiful porcelain continues today. I have loved Royal Worcester ever since I was a boy, and my passion for it has never waned.