| European Hard Paste Porcelain
This category encompasses both hard paste porcelains from Continental Europe and from England. European hard paste porcelain is characterized by its highly vitrified paste, with glaze that is impervious to staining or crazing. Under short and mid-range ultraviolet light, the glazed surface of European hard paste porcelain appears magenta or dark purple.
Although a great deal of the porcelain produced in England in the 18th-century was soft paste, some hard paste porcelain was being made there possibly as early as 1743 (Ramsay and Ramsay 2008) and could be found on North American 18th-century sites. Hard paste porcelain was also manufactured on the Continent (France, Italy, Germany, Austria and other countries); at the Meissen factory in Dresden, for example, from around 1710 (Cushion and Cushion 1992:13) and Vienna by 1719 (Munger 2003). Little, however, was imported into the North American colonies until the end of the 18th or early 19th centuries, when French porcelain became fashionable (Venable et al. 2000:104). A few sherds, attributed to Tournay, France, have been recovered at Colonial Williamsburg (Noël Hume 1994:304) and a number of French factories supplied the American market between 1800 and 1825 (Venable et al. 2000:104). However, on archaeological sites in North America, European hard paste porcelain is most often found in post-1850 contexts.
French Limoges porcelain “dominated the American market for expensive china” from the mid-19th century to the beginning of World War I, although manufacturers in Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire began, by the late 19th century, to copy their wares in order to capitalize on the market for French porcelain (Venable et al. 2000:104, 186). These ceramics could be purchased by middle class families from mail order catalogs, like Montgomery Ward & Co. (begun 1872) and Sears, Roebuck & Co. (begun 1886). Sets of French, English, German and American tea and tableware were listed in the 1895 Montgomery Ward catalog (Montgomery Ward 1895) and some of these wares were French hard paste porcelain decorated in floral patterns with gold gilt embellishments and decorative molding. Customers could also purchase individual cups and saucers in a variety of patterns, as well as shaving mugs, bone dishes, berry sets, and other dishes. A 100-piece set of Haviland (Limoges, France) china was sold by Sears, Roebuck in its 1902 catalog (Sears, Roebuck 1986) and German and French porcelain dinnerware sets appear in the 1927 catalog (Mirken 1970).
The following wording on porcelain can help you to narrow down the date of its manufacture:
|Use of word “Royal” in trademark – after 1850
||Use of word “England” (or Germany, France, etc.) in mark – post 1891
|Use of word “Limited” or “Ltd” after manufacturer’s name – after 1861
||Use of terminology “Made in England” (Germany, France, etc.) – 20th century
|Use of the words “Trade Mark” or “trademark” – after 1862
European hard paste porcelain is characterized by a highly vitrified white paste that is impervious to staining or crazing.
Unlike Chinese porcelain, European hard paste porcelains were fired twice; first to an unglazed, biscuit ware and then followed by glazing and higher temperature firing at between 1300 and 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. Glaze on European hard paste porcelain is very hard and impervious to scratching, staining and crazing. There is usually no glaze on the footrings of European hard paste porcelain vessels.
Decoration on European hard paste porcelain takes a variety of forms. Prior to 1880, most of the decoration was overglaze painting; after that time, the introduction of decals decreased production of painted decorations. Often decals were used in combination with molded motifs and gold gilt and were popular on porcelain between 1880 and 1920 (Majewski and O’Brien 1987:128). Vessels decorated with printed designs could be embellished with painted adornment.
All varieties of table and teawares were produced in Continental European porcelain, as well as decorative pieces and forms like trinket boxes, ink pots, and ring holders, bone dishes, and shaving mugs.
Cushion and Cushion 1992; Majewski and O’Brien 1987; Mirken 1970; Montgomery Ward 1895; Munger 2003; Noël Hume 1994; Ramsay and Ramsay 2008; Sears, Roebuck 1986; Venable et al. 2000