China Patterns ...
Identifying Made Easy
Some people have a burning desire to know which china patterns they have. It could be that you want to replace parts of it, and so need a reference. Maybe you just want to know because.... you just want to know.
Some patterns have names, some just numbers. Many remain unidentified, lost in the mists of time. Of course, some patterns like Royal Albert's "Old Country Roses" or Colclough's "Amoretta" are popular classics and will always remain 'known'. Other patterns are boldly emblazoned on the pottery mark - but more often than not, the pattern is not given a mention.
However, the vast majority of china patterns are very problematic to identify due to the sheer weight of numbers produced over time by many hundreds of manufacturers. Some makers who we have hardly heard of today were huge concerns pumping out a catalogue of literally thousands of different patterns.
So, you might be thinking "are there any online archives of china patterns anywhere?". Do manufacturers publish their pattern books on the internet?
At first sight, the answer is no. Most of the older manufacturers have long since gone into administration and, if they exist at all, exist now only as 'brands' of holding companies with much of any remaining production being done in the Far East.
This is true even of Wedgwood although they are still nominally functioning from Barleston, their ancient home.
Try to find someone from Barleston to help with your query. Good luck if you can and let us all know please!
Worcester has gone, so has Spode. The Royal Doulton brand is part of the Wedgwood holding company, as are Royal Albert, Minton and many of the other old famous names.
So, think in these terms.... who actually cares about your old china patterns?
Certainly not the executives of the holding companies, they are too busy building their big bonuses (no bonuses from the shareholders for helping you identify your china pattern!).
Maybe the old auction houses have records, but the experts who hold the records are unlikely to want to talk to you (to be blunt).
Museums should care, but they seem to becoming lees and less well funded and less and less helpful to the ordinary person.
For example, even over the life of this website, the Potteries Museum of Staffordshire have discontinued their email help service (unless the thing you are asking about is in their collection).
So, if you are searching to identify your pattern, you have to find a 'vested interest' who care about your china patterns for commercial reasons. Those commercial reasons will be found amongst those websites and retailers who can sell you the replacement.
I have done a review of the main online china replacement websites - just look for the words 'china replacements' on the left side navigation bar.
Suffice to say, there is granddaddy of them all - a free online resource which stands head and shoulders above all others in terms of listing and cataloguing patterns. In fact, it is the only free one I know of and the most comprehensive I have found online.
However, like most free resources, it takes a bit of leg work on your part, so I will take you through how it works on this page and explain how to use it in clear and easy terms
|SO, THERE IS AN EXTENSIVE PATTERN CATALOGUE ONLINE COVERING MANY HUNDREDS OF MANUFACTURERS PATTERNS AND MANY THOUSANDS OF PATTERNS. YOU MAY HAVE ALREADY STUMBLED ACROSS IT. DETAILS BELOW.....|
Continue reading below ↓
Before I go on to talk about premium pattern cataloguing website, you need to know about other (offline) alternatives.
Yes, the real world still exists outside the internet, you will be pleased to hear.
Two top specialist reference books cover the identification of china patterns, and they are fairly easily avalable in libraries.
Which libraries? And is there one near to me? I hear you ask.
It is surprisingly easy to use an online search facility to track down the nearest library which holds these great reference books and in the blink of an eye you can go there to research your obscure pattern like an expert.
Again, getting hold of one of these books specialising in identifying china patterns is an alternative (and free) method of doing your own research on tableware transfer patterns.
These are two books which lead the transfer china patterns field (if you know of others, please write in tell me!). Both are available in the US & UK, both in libraries or to purchase.
- English Transferware: Popular 20th Century Patterns (Schiffer Book for Collectors) by Joe Keller and Mark Gibbs
- Miller's Encyclopedia of British Transfer-Printed Pottery Patterns 1790-1930 by Gillian Neale
....Using Google in conjunction with WorldCat.org, enables you to track down the nearest libraries to you which hold copies of each book.
- Go to Google search and click the 'Books' search (under the 'more' category) - you can put in the book title into the search, then click on the link. Under the image of the book you will see the option of 'find in a library'.
- Click this link and Google link you should be referred to a library cataloging website called WorldCat.org who then ask where your location is and within seconds they tell you where the book is and how far away it it. Amazing!
- If, for some reason Google doesn't send you to WorldCat.org, go there direct and search using their search box.
For me, located in the UK, it tells me the first title 'English Transferware: Popular 20th Century Patterns' is located in the Library of the Victoria & Albert Museum. In the US, this book is located in several different local libraries.
The second book - 'Miller's Encyclopedia of British Transfer-Printed Pottery Patterns 1790-1930' according to WorldCat.org a copy is located in my local main library as well as about a dozen or so other main libraries throughout the UK and more in the US.
Before deciding which book to locate, I would read the book review supplied by Google which is normally very in depth and revealing.
Now, getting back to the best free online resources to help you identify your pattern.
Replacements.com holds details of over 300,000 tableware patterns. They offer a completely free china pattern identification service. (Note:- I am in no way affiliated with them or get anything from this link - I am just telling it like it is!)
However, the only restriction is if you want multiple patterns identified, they reserve the right to limit this service to their customers and suppliers.
The way round this is to go to their site yourself and have a poke around their online database.
- Go to their china section
- Go to the name of your china manufacturer
- Look out for the vertical blue image bars on the far left of the page
- Click, then scroll down the images looking for your pattern
If you decide to send them a query, you must:-
- Take digital photos. Save them in JPEG format. Make sure at the same time they are changed to 72-100 DPI resolution (low). Make them between 6 inches to 7 inches wide (500 to 600 pixels).
All this can be done on most common computer photo software.
TIP:_ If in doubt just download a free bit of kit called IrfanView here.
- Photograph both the item and the pottery mark.
- Send the images by email to yourself first! This ensures they are clear and that the mark details can be easily read. Blurry photos are or no use to anyone.
You would be amazed by the number of useless photos are sent for identification. This wastes every-bodies time, not least yours.
- Send your images, along with your name, email and mailing address to research
- They will identify your pattern and send you a price listing of the pieces they have in your pattern.
- If they can't identify your pattern, they will let you know promptly. However, you must allow a reasonable time - say two to three weeks to look into your query.
Happy china pattern hunting!!
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