Rare Flow Blue Collectible Pieces
Grecian by Ridgway
This month, we feature a selection of very interesting, and very rare “flow blue” dinnerware pieces. Flow Blue is a highly collectible, decorated porcelain or stoneware in which the decorated image is created using a transfer printing process and techniques during firing to create fascinating “blurred blue” designs. Included in our museum feature are two dinner plates, a 16-inch oval platter, a 12-inch oval platter, and a cup and saucer with salad plate. The two dinner plates are notable for prominent depictions of George and Martha Washington. These dinner plates measure 9 1/2" in diameter and are from the Grecian pattern by Ridgway Pottery. We believe these flow blue dinner plates were produced sometime between 1891 and 1920, though our researchers have been unable to determine an exact date of production for the Grecian pattern (as is the case with many flow blue patterns).
Another eye-catching piece from our flow blue museum collection is a 16" oval platter with a beautiful rendering of a gothic Cathedral. Taken from the Gothic pattern by Jacob Furnival and Co., this piece is by far one of the more eye-catching in our collection. Additional items include a cup and saucer set with salad plate in the India pattern by Villeroy and Boch and a 12" oval platter in the Florida pattern by Johnson Brothers.
Gothic by Furnival
Flow Blue pieces originated in the historic pottery district of Staffordshire, England. The first appearance of flow blue pottery is believed to have occurred during the 1820’s. Although there is some dispute as to who discovered the flow blue firing method, it is generally accepted that Josiah Wedgwood had at least a hand in developing this unique method of decorating dinnerware before his death in 1795.
In original flow blue china production, blue ink was used in a design process known as transfer printing. In this process, a design template was created and applied to a blank, then indigo blue ink was forced to bleed onto and through the piece when a volatizing agent like ammonia was added. The amount of “flow” was then controlled by the amount of additional volatizing agent added during firing. Early flow blue patterns featured oriental designs, and gradually transformed into fancy scrolled floral and still life images. Flow blue dinnerware designs proved to be extraordinarily popular through the mid-to-late 19th century. During this time, patterns inspired by trade with the Orient were highly desirable. Flow blue designs were based on many popular Oriental motifs, and the western upper classes believed that flow blue was ornate enough to be used at formal dinner parties. It was also, however, inexpensive enough to be collected by the general public.
Cup & Saucer Set with
India by Villeroy & Boch
At the beginning of the 20th century, the popular trend in flow blue pieces began to fade. New methods of decorating dinnerware were developed and significant design changed occurred, flow blue dinnerware then seemed primitive and anachronistic. Very little genuine flow blue was produced during the 20th century, and collectors had a reduced universe of pieces to choose from. Today, resurgence in the popularity of these pieces has occurred. Flow Blue collector groups, or ‘societies’, exist across the United States and Europe to continue the study, cataloguing, and collecting of flow blue dinnerware patterns from the 19th and early 20th centuries. In the case of the rare flow blue pieces we feature here this month, we must note that these pieces are not for sale. Fear not though, we do have a wonderful selection of flow blue patterns by Johnson Brothers, Ridgway, Villeroy and Boch, Furnival, and more that are quite amazing, and are available for purchase.
Come visit us and see these amazing flow blue pieces in person! While with us, you can browse our 12,000-square-foot showroom, take a tour of our facility, and leave with an armload of unique flow blue pieces of your own with which to strategically accent your home or office. Our Showroom and Museum are open from 9:00am to 7:00pm ET, 7 days a week; free tours are available from 10:00am to 6:00pm ET, 7 days a week. The Showroom and Museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. We look forward to seeing you soon!