Author of " How to Identify Old China " and " How to Identify Old Chinese Porcelain "

The Origin of Lowestoft Porcelain - Romantic Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor - Earliest Tea-ware How to Discriminate Between Real and So-called Lowestoft

It was a curious coincidence that, in December 1902, just one hundred years after the. closing of the old Lowestoft factory, in 1802, there should have been brought to light, upon the site of this factory, quantities of moulds and fragments of porcelain both in the glazed and unglazed state.

This discovery set at rest once and for all a controversy which had waged round the subject for many years. It is strange that no organised search had been made, and that the light now thrown upon the subject was the accidental finding of fragments when the present owners of the premises were cutting an air-shaft in the wall of the building. Up to this time opinions had been divided, some people asserting that all that large class of Chinese porcelain decorated with flowers in European style and the "Armorial china" were certain that no factory of any importance ever existed here.

According to Gillingwater, the historian of the county of Suffolk, the Lowestoft factory was established under remarkable and romantic circumstances. It is said that a certain Mr. Hewlin Luson had befriended a shipwrecked Dutch mariner, and had taken him into his house until such time as he should be able to return to his own country. On walking over his estate one day, accompanied by the sailor, the latter noticed some clay which had been newly turned up, and remarked to his host, "They make Delft-ware of that in my country." Acting upon this hint, Mr. Luson essayed to make porcelain, but soon relinquished the attempt.

A year later a factory-was founded at Lowestoft by Messrs. Walker,

A flask in blue and white Lowestoft china. It is upon the glaze used that experts depend for aid in identifying specimens of this porcelain

A flask in blue and white Lowestoft china. It is upon the glaze used that experts depend for aid in identifying specimens of this porcelain

From the British Museum

Browne, Aldred & Rickman, and some amusing stories have been told regarding their early venture. It is said that the firm were obliged to engage London potters for this new industry, and these men, being bribed by their late masters, who feared competition, spoilt the wares. At last one of the partners, by bribing the watchman at a London factory - possibly Bow - managed to hide himself in a cask in the mixing-room. From this point of vantage he watched the process and learnt the nature of the ingredients used

The exact date of the establishment of the Lowestoft factory is not known, but it must have been between 1750 and 1760. In 1770 the firm became Robert Browne and Co. The site was in Crown Street, and is now occupied by the Crown Brewery. Lowestoft porcelain is soft paste - a body containing bone ash. If looked through in a transmitted light it will be found to be of a yellowish tinge. It is, however, the glaze which- may be looked upon as a clue in identification. That used upon underglaze, blue and white, has a distinctly blue tinge, and may be found to have accumulated thickly round the rings at the base of cups, saucers, and bowls, while at the bottom of sauce-boats and other large pieces it may be found in congealed masses. This blue glaze was used for blue and white only; upon pieces decorated in colours it has a green tinge, and is frequently marred by fine sand, which gives a muddy appearance to the piece.

No known mark was used at this factory, but upon some specimens the numeral 5, written in eighteenth century style, and a letter resembling L may be found. These are painters' marks. Sometimes the number of the pattern occurs, this being painted in red.

The earliest porcelain made at Lowestoft would appear to have been tea-ware decorated in Chinese style in blue underglaze. There is no doubt that Worcester china of this kind was largely copied, and the crescent mark may be found upon a piece of undoubted Lowestoft. I have in my possession a cup made at this factory, and marked with a capital W, but not an exact copy of any variation of that letter used at Worcester. The blue was for the most part painted, but upon some pieces believed to have been made at this factory transfer - such as was used at Caughley and in Staffordshire for the willow pattern - may be found. A very favourite kind of decoration, and

A coffee pot of typical Lowestoft shape, painted in colours.

A coffee-pot of typical Lowestoft shape, painted in colours.

The glaze used upon pieces decorated in colours has a green tinge and is often marred by fine sand

Jug, plate, and mug of Lowestoft porcelain in blus underglaze. From the collection of Messrs. A. B. Daniell 6  Sons. The earliest porcelain made at Lowestoft appears to have been tea ware, decorated in Chinese style, in blue underglaze

Jug, plate, and mug of Lowestoft porcelain in blus underglaze. From the collection of Messrs. A. B. Daniell 6- Sons. The earliest porcelain made at Lowestoft appears to have been tea-ware, decorated in Chinese style, in blue underglaze

Reproduced by kind permission of Messrs. Daniell one for many years attributed to Worcester, takes the form of white moulded designs in low relief surrounding small vignettes of land or seascapes or flowers in blue underglaze. This design is found upon tea-ware, sauce-boats, and mugs. Teapots are remarkable for their long spouts, which stand out more from the body than those made at other English factories.