Monday, 28 May 2012

Westerwald Stoneware Pottery

Whilst I love the really old finds, I’m getting a bit fed up again of all the browns on the blog, so time for some pretties.

Over the last 8 months I’ve amassed a small collection of Westerwald pottery shards. Whilst they are less prevalent than Tudor green glaze,  blue and white china, slipware or even delft, I usually spot a piece of Westerwald on each visit to the Thames.

The most pleasing finds have relief or incised decoration, impressed circular flower heads, medallions, coats of arms, hand drawn zig zags and outlines highlighting  what appear to be petals or leaves. The modern appearing shiny cobalt blue glaze, often against a grey background, belies their age. One find has manganese purple alongside the blue, a rare find. Apparently this colour was only used between 1650 – 1680 and again briefly in the final quarter of the 19th century. Cobalt blue and manganese were the only two colours which could withstand the extreme temperatures required in stoneware kilns.  

Westerwald Stoneware Pottery Fragments Found Mudlarking on the Thames 

Westerwald Stoneware Jugs 1700 Christies 

More common are larger shards from the rims of tankards, with their distinctive lines of cobalt blue amid a series of circular raised tracks.

Westerwald Pottery Shards from tankards found Mudlarking on the Thames

18th Century Westerwald Stoneware Winebottle and salt glazed mugs from Reeham and Dansie auctioneers

Westwerwald is a region of Germany east of the Rhine, where the stoneware pottery industry was well established at end of the 16th century. Its golden age was in the 17th century and remained buoyant in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Jugs, tankards, mugs and chamber pots were the primary products, particularly popular between 1675-1775 and imported to London in great quantities until the end of the 19th century.  So best guess is that these shards are from between 1675- 1900 – a  rather irritatingly wide range.
Westerwald pottery shard from Thames Foreshore


  1. Dear Julia
    Thank you for an interesting and informative blog. Good research!
    Kind regards
    Decimal Bruce (Thames and Field)

  2. Very interesting information, thanks. I have linked to this article in a post on my blog.