Images of sophisticated dinner parties, holiday feasts, and beautifully adorned tea tables might come to mind when you picture fine china. But have you ever stopped to consider where these elegant porcelain dishes originate? While the history of porcelain tableware started in ancient China, it's impossible to discuss its history without spotlighting England's extraordinary influence on the industry. This blog takes you on a journey through England's contributions to the world of fine china dinnerware, with a particular emphasis on the influence of two iconic companies, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton.
The Birth of English Fine Bone China
The evolution of English porcelain dinnerware dates back to the 18th century. The English had been entranced by Chinese porcelain, or "white gold," since it first arrived on their shores, but the exact technique for creating such fine, translucent ceramics had been a closely guarded secret for centuries. It wasn't until the late 18th century that an English potter named Josiah Spode successfully created what we know today as English bone china.
Spode's breakthrough formula combined china stone and bone ash to create a type of china that was more delicate and beautifully white than any other porcelain in Europe at the time. This innovation marked a pivotal moment in the history of English ceramics, laying the foundation for England's dominance in the fine china industry.
Wedgwood Transforms the Industry
Often referred to as the "Father of English Potters." Josiah Wedgwood founded the Wedgwood pottery company in 1759. Wedgewood was an accomplished potter, shrewd businessperson, and inventive genius. His major innovation was his development of new types of stoneware like Black Basalt and Jasperware, with the latter becoming synonymous with the Wedgwood name. Known for its iconic "Wedgwood blue" colour and white embossed figures, Jasperware drew inspiration from ancient cameo glass and became a hit. It was popular among English nobility and royalty across Europe, enhancing the international reputation of English fine china.
Beyond his artistic contributions, Wedgwood was a visionary in manufacturing and marketing. He introduced the concept of the division of labor in pottery manufacturing, raising productivity and quality control. His royal endorsements and branding strategies set a precedent that many companies would follow in later years.
Royal Doulton Expands Fine China Market
Royal Doulton, founded in 1815, has also left an indelible mark on the English fine china industry. Famous for its diversified product offerings, Royal Doulton produced everything from dinnerware and collectibles to commemorative pieces and character jugs. This diversification played a crucial role in increasing the accessibility and popularity of fine china among the wider public.
One defining characteristic of Royal Doulton was its commitment to craftsmanship and artistry. The company regularly collaborated with talented artists who hand-painted designs onto their ceramics. These unique pieces added a personal touch that made Royal Doulton china special, and they remain highly sought-after collectibles today.
Fine China - The English Legacy
The influence of England on the fine china industry is undeniable. From the innovations of Wedgwood and Spode to the quality craftsmanship of Royal Doulton, England has been instrumental in shaping the aesthetics and manufacturing of fine china. The English approach combined creativity, innovation, and high-quality materials, resulting in pieces that were not just functional but also artistic masterpieces.
Even today, the names Wedgwood and Royal Doulton are synonymous with fine china, and their pieces continue to be treasured by collectors and connoisseurs worldwide. As we admire these beautiful bone china dinnerware sets, we are reminded of England's invaluable contributions to the evolution of china dinnerware and beyond.
So, the next time you find yourself sipping tea from an elegantly crafted English china cup or laying a table with a beautiful porcelain dinner set, remember the history and craftsmanship that have brought these treasures to your home. They are not just objects but a testament to the profound influence of England on the world of gorgeous tableware.
Fine China Consignment at Around the Block
Are you looking for a fine china dinner set for your next party? Look no further than Around the Block, from iconic names Wedgewood, Royal Doulton, Aynsley, Christian Dior, and other fine china brands. We have a wide selection of previously owned fine china patterns and pieces to meet anyone’s taste or budget. Drop by our Toronto-area consignment store to see our extensive collection of fine china dinnerware ND porcelain collectibles or conveniently buy fine china online at our website.