Over the last 8 months I’ve collected a handful of this stuff, gradually clocking it was different from the other blue and white china I’d been picking up. I kept it in my Westerwald pottery box, realising it was similar but not quite the same. Took me a while to track down what it is, as there aren’t many pictures on the web, but persistence paid off.
|Debased Scratched Blue White Stoneware Pottery Shards Found Thames Mudlarking|
In the 18th century the not so well off found porcelain too expensive, delft ware too fragile. There was a market for cheaper alternatives; German Westerwald decorated grey stoneware filled part of this gap. Some say English potters sought to compete with these products by creating a similar looking but this time white stoneware, rather unfortunately retrospectively named ‘debased' scratched blue stoneware. I’m yet again struck by the modern looking design of old pottery, in this case free flowing, incised decoration with quite messy splashes of cobalt blue which bleed over the incised lines, thus emulating Westerwald to some degree. The products seem to be quite limited, mugs, jugs and chamber pots. Decorated with sprays of leaves (technical name apparently is foliate) amusingly the chamber pots frequently boasted spig-moulded raised medallions with the cipher of George III and sometimes a picture of his profile. Apparently this blue stoneware was only fashionable for one decade from 1765, with chamber pots remaining popular for a longer period – I wonder why. This flash in the pan appearance doesn’t quite square with how frequently I find this stuff which seems about as often as I find Westerwald– strange, maybe it was more of a must have or cheaper product hence its prevalence.
Chamber Pot Debased Scratch Blue White Stoneware (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)
|Georgian Debased Scratched Blue Mug (Denhams)|