Saturday, 20 October 2012

Pratt Ware 1780s – 1840s.

How great to have a type of pottery called Pratt Ware. The few examples I’ve found probably aren’t strictly from Pratt Ware whose defining feature is relief moulding,  the forms were usually figures or jugs. Instead I’ve found tiny, tiny thin pottery shards hand painted in pratt colours, magnified in the photo below. They seem to come from both creamware and the blue tinged pearlware, both are present in shards below. I suspect they may all be from tea bowls or saucers. 
Mudlarking Finds: Creamware and Pearlware hand painted in pratt colours
There is something I just love about these pieces, the combination of the muddy greens,   browney oranges with flashes of cobalt blue and the snapshot of such detailed miniature hand painted designs crammed onto each of these small fragments.

In this period artists were constrained in the colours they could use. Only colours that could withstand the high kiln temperatures required to fire lead glaze were available to them, namely cobalt for blue, copper and lead for greens, manganese oxide and iron were mixed to produce brown, orange was produced by adding iron oxide to yellow oxide. But there is something even more specific about the tone of Pratt colours.

Their name derives from the pottery they became associated with, the Pratt pottery in Fenton Staffordshire, although this type of pottery was also churned out by many others in Staffordshire and in other areas of England and Scotland. I've found it almost impossible to track down images of table and teaware in pratt colours, although I've had more luck in finding the more 'official' pratt ware. 

Prattware jug, circa 1820 (Martyn Edgell)

The hand painted ware was phased out around 1840 as the cheaper and more popular transfer wares began to predominate
Prattware jug with the Kings initials GR, circa 1810 (Martyn Edgell)


  1. Lovely. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Hello Julia...This evening I was researching westerwald pottery and in the process came across your mudlarking blog. I was so fascinated that I read every post! I felt like I was there, poking around in the Thames mud, looking for treasures myself. The great photos and researched descriptions of your finds are like taking a quick course in the history of English and European pottery.

    Mostly, though, I am really glad to discover that walking on beaches and picking up bits and pieces of broken pottery and glass is not an entirely insane thing to do, and that there is actually a name for it...."mudlarking"! Every chance I get I beach-comb remote spots along the shores of Mobile Bay, in south Alabama. I've located the remains of several old pottery kilns that date from the early 1800's. There are piles of shards from thrown-clay jugs and pots strewn all along the water's edge. In the fragments I can see the creativity and sweat of the pottery workers, as well as their actual fingerprints, like you have observed. I imagine what it may have been like to live and work in that time and place, which makes me more aware and grateful for just being alive and having all the comforts and the luxuries of a modern life. Thank you for sharing your experiences and all the neat stuff you have learned!

    1. Dear Dan, always good to hear the stories of other mudlarkers across the globe, thank you. The ability of these small fragments to stimulate interest in our past has surprised me. The more I read about Georgian London, the more I wish I'd been around then, well almost.

  3. Dear Julia,

    Your blog is fantastic - I was so glad to come across it. Your research with comparative images is exceptional. I'm a casual mudlarker, but have found a few nice things in the link below. I'm afraid not categorised so carefully...


  4. I have been researching the Fenton Pratt's and have noticed a possible London link.
    Matthew Pratt born 1821 is shown as having premises in Great St Helens, would now be in the shadow of the Gurhkin. He is shown in land tax records for 1860. In the census he is listed as living in Croyden and described as being an earthenware manufacturer. I wonder if he was making the wares that you have found

  5. Do you still want to see tea wares decorated in pratt colours as I have a collection and would be happy to send you photos.

  6. Sorry, I missed your reply.
    I would be most pleased to view what you have.