Dsssert plate of Rockingham porcelain, with green ground beautifully painted with small landscape panels and gilt lifting off its base to allow of the insertion of the light. Some are in colours, but they are frequently all white, and the base is encrusted with flowers in high relief.
Dogs made at this factory are of all sorts and sizes, from a tiny King Charles spaniel lying upon a cushion, a graceful greyhound, or a more massive species, six or eight inches high, with plain white body, and head and shoulders covered with a thickly curled coat in French poodle style. Cottages, dogs, and other animals were manufactured at several factories in the early days of the nineteenth century, but those of Rockingham may be identified by the beautiful white body and glaze, and by their excellent and delicate modelling.
The shapes adopted at this factory for articles of a purely ornamental nature were often clumsy and ungainly, and gilding was too lavish for good taste. At the South Kensington Museum is a vase and cover measuring 38 1/2 inches in height. The flower painting upon it is exquisitely fine, and the colours are brilliant, but the effect of the whole is ornate in the extreme.
Set of Rockingham spill vases in Rose du Barri pink and buff, with coloured landscapes
Bowls and covers encrusted with raised flowers, spill-vases and flower-baskets with floral designs, or landscapes beautifully painted are characteristic of the Rockingham factory, but many of these are too heavy in shape to appeal to the collector who has artistic tastes.
Views of Lowther Castle and Conisburgh Castle and landscapes scenes were painted upon many pieces of Rockingham china. These will generally be found as ornamenta-
A beautifully modelled Rockingham greyhound. The colour is tan upon a Royal blue plinth tion upon vases of lotus shape, they are enclosed in panels outlined with gold and surrounded by a ground colour. The same form of decoration occurs also upon tea and dessert services.
A Splendid Failure
In the early part of the nineteenth century the English china factories vied with each other for Royal and noble patronage, gorgeous services being made for distinguished patrons. Orders from these great personages, for which there was such keen competition, did not, however, always realise the expectations of the manufacturers; and it is said that a commission from King George IV. for a dessert-service sounded the knell of the Rockingham factory.
The service consisted of 144 plates and 56 dishes, the amount paid for it being £5,000, but so lavish was the gilding, and so profuse and costly the decoration, that this sum did not nearly cover the cost of production. Thus was failure brought upon this factory which had long been struggling against an adverse tide.
The earliest mark used upon Rockingham ware is the word Brameld, transfer printed in red or purple or impressed in the paste. The words "Rockingham Works Brameld," treated in a variety of ways, were also used as a mark. From 1826, when Earl Fitz-william began to assist the Bramelds financially, a griffin-the crest of the Fitz-williams-was employed. This mark was transfer printed in puce and other colours.
When considering Rockingham china, the collector must not forget that it lacks the antiquity of Chelsea, Bow, Longton Hall, and several other English porcelains. In consequence there is less romance and mystery attaching to it. The body was an improvement upon that in use at the same time at Worcester and the Staffordshire and Salopian potteries, the composition of which was well known. It is the beauty of this body and the brilliance of some of the colours used which form its chief attraction to-day. A shade of romance, however, attaches to these works, in that they shared the common fate of the majority of the great - English factories of the old days-that of financial loss and failure.
Although Rockingham porcelain is not so old or so valuable, from a collector's point of view, as that made at Chelsea and Bow, and in the early days of Worcester and Derby, it is still very valuable. As a matter of fact, this china is not popular with the serious collector for her cabinets, because cabinet specimens, vases, and figures are often heavy in shape, and too brilliant in colour, and do not appeal to her artistic tastes.
A Fashionable China
The woman, however, who would be really up to date in the matter of tea, dinner, and dessert services should bring out her old Rockingham porcelain, for then she will find herself the envy of all her friends. Tea services with a green ground are specially sought after, and those painted with views and flowers command high prices. It must, of course, be understood that such prices are only given for fairly large services which are in a really good condition.
Fortune is a fickle dame, at any rate, so far as old china is concerned. She smiles upon Rockingham services to-day, tomorrow she may frown. It behoves us, therefore, to use them while we may.
Marks used upon Rockingham pottery and porcelain