By: John Hogan

Flow Blue Pottery has been in existence since 1830 onward. The renowned Davenport Factory of Longport, England was one of the very first to have produced it on a pearlware medium.













The majority of earlier pieces have been produced on an ironstone medium which post dates pearlware.  We already know as collectors and dealers that Flow Blue Pottery has been in existence since 1830 onward. The renowned Davenport Factory of Longport, England was one of the very first to have produced it on a pearlware medium. There are not many pearlware examples known. The majority of earlier pieces have been produced on an ironstone medium which post dates pearlware.

As we approach 1890 onward into the Late Victorian and Edwardian times, flow blue was now being produced on a thin earthenware medium commonly referred to as semi-porcelain. As a rule of thumb, generally speaking, most flow blue was produced from about 1830 up to about 1915. However some factories produced into the 1940s. Myott & Sons produced Crumlin and Monarch patterns up to 1925-1930; Royal Doulton produced Melrose up to 1940-1945 and Fairy Villas III was produced up to 1930 by W. Adams. This is just to name several finds throughout my collecting days.

Generally most flow blue ceased production due to limited cobalt supplies during World War I. Most cobalt used in the production of blue & white and flow blue was sourced in Saxony, Germany. By now England and Germany were at war and were no longer allies, therefore cobalt ceased export from Germany. Few factories had reserves of cobalt, this is why some, not many, factories produced into 1930-1940.

There are four major categories in which flow blue is ranked: (A) Romantic or Scenic, (B) Oriental, (C) Floral and (D) Brush Stroke.
One may have a particular preference for a specific category. Therefore we will have to list the top 10 favorites in each category so as not to be prejudice.

(A) Romantic or Scenic Category: These views were mainly of a fanciful or imaginary nature including pastoral scenes which  pictured  animals, trees, imaginary buildings or cottages with people and water in the foreground. These patterns were so popular that potteries produced them into circa 1900. Of course the early patterns were produced on an ironstone medium whereas the later ones were produced on a semi-porcelain medium.

The Top Ten Most Desirable Patterns in the Romantic or Scenic Category are:

  1. Watteau by John & Wm. Adams and also by Doulton, very different romantic patterns which date 1890-1910,
  2. Non Pariel by Burgess & Leigh which dates 1891-1900,
  3. Italian Scenery by W. Adams which dates 1890,
  4. Oriental by Ridgways, this pattern was produced after 1890 and continued into 1920s,
  5. Peruvian by John Wedge Wood which dates 1849,
  6. Leicester by Sampson Hancock & Sons; this pattern has a hunting scene in a medallion border and dates 1906,
  7. Geneva by Doulton which dates 1890,
  8. Jenny Lind by Arthur Wilkinson which dates 1895,
  9. Excelsior by Thomas Fell which dates 1850, and
  10. Rhine by Edward Challinor which dates 1850.

(B) Oriental Category: Those scenes usually included flowers and plants of the orient, people dressed in oriental garb and temples in the background. Generally speaking, most of the oriental patterns were produced on an Ironstone medium. However there were some oriental patterns produced at a later date on a semi-porcelain medium which would be the Late Art Nouveau-Edwardian Flow Blue. These would date from about 1890-1915 period.

The Top Ten Most Desirable Patterns in the Ironstone Oriental Category are:

  1. Scinde by John & George Alcock which dates 1840,
  2. Amoy by Davenport which dates 1844,
  3. Cashmere by Thomas Edwards which dates 1850,
  4. Cabul by Thomas Edwards which dates 1847,
  5. Manilla by Podmore & Walker which dates 1845, truly a Canadian favorite!,
  6. Oregon by T.J. & Joseph Mayer which dates 1845,
  7. Temple by Podmore & Walker which dates 1845, again a true favorite by Canadian collectors!,
  8. Kyber by John Meir & Son which dates 1870 and later produced by W. Adams which dates 1891; the two versions are exactly the same,
  9. Tonquin by Joseph Heath which dates 1850; Tonquin by Clementson & Young which dates 1845-1860. Other factories produced patterns with the same name but are quite different, and
  10. Pelew by Edward Challinor which dates 1840. As an added bonus, how can we forget the gorgeous Fairy Villas pattern by W. Adams & Co.? This pattern is referred to as Fairy Villas II  which dates 1890 and Fairy Villas III seems to have been made from 1890-1917. However there have been pieces of Fairy Villas III bearing a mark up to 1930 and were produced on a semi-porcelain medium.

(C) Floral Category:  In addition to the many early floral flow blue transfers, the later Art Nouveau and Edwardian floral flow blue transfers are very popular with now-a-day collectors and decorators.

The Top Ten Most Desirable Late Art Nouveau-Edwardian Semi-Porcelain Patterns in the Floral Category are:

  1. Argyle by W.H. Grindley which dates 1896,
  2. Lonsdale by Ridgways which dates 1910 and is produced on a semi-porcelain medium.
  3. Blue Danube by Johnston Brothers which dates 1900-1904,
  4. La Belle by Wheeling Pottery Co, West Virginia which dates 1900,
  5. Seville by Wood & Sons which dates 1900; a variant was made by New Wharf Pottery which dates 1891,
  6. Syrian by W.H. Grindley which dates 1891,
  7. Touraine by Henry Alcock which dates 1898 and was produced on a semi-porcelain medium.
  8. Waldorf by New Wharf Pottery which dates 1892,
  9. Lakewood by Wood & Sons which dates 1900, and
  10. Kelvin by Alfred Meakin which dates 1891.

Let us not forget our two favorite Canadian imported Late Art Nouveau or Edwardian Floral patterns: Crumlin and Monarch by Myott & Sons. Crumlin is mainly found in Quebec; Monarch is mainly found in Ontario. Both are produced on a semi-porcelain medium and are Late Art Nouveau or Edwardian patterns. As for superiority and popularity, Crumlin with its attractive butterfly border outdoes Monarch any day.

Note that I have emphasized the late Art Nouveau-Edwardian floral flow blue semi-porcelain category simply because in today's market, there is a greater abundance of semi-porcelain floral flow blue than the earlier ironstone floral flow blues. This is not to say that I should not list the many stunning ironstone examples that exist. The more modern day collector is more readily exposed to this flow blue and because of its naivety, it is quite popular with decorators.

The Top Ten Most Desirable Ironstone Floral Flow Blue Patterns are:

  1. Amerillia pattern by Podmore, Walker & Co., a great favorite amongst Canadians due to a great import relationship with this English company; this pattern was produced 1850,
  2. Lobelia by George Phillips which dates 1845,
  3. Chapoo by John Wedge Wood which dates 1850,
  4. Lily by Francis Morley & Co. dates 1850, again a great favorite amongst Quebecois!,
  5. Poppy by New Wharf Pottery Co. which dates 1891,
  6. Blue Bell by Dillwyn-Swansea which dates 1840,
  7. Heat's Flower by T. Heath which dates 1830,
  8. Daliah by Edward Challinor which dates 1850,
  9. Royal Rose by Thomas Dimmock which dates 1860 and
  10. Chinese Plant  by A.S. Knight which dates 1845.

(D) Brush Stroke Category: This kind of flow blue is somewhat naive in nature. This technique other than the Transfer Printed Flow Blue, is another process that is known as Brush Stroke Flow Blue. Brush Stroke Flow Blue is basically hand painted flow or flowing blue. It is often accompanied by some pink or copper luster and is sometimes hand clobbered with orange, yellow, green and red enamel colors. This process of combining multi-color is called polychrome.

The Process Of Brush Stroke is a fast rustic outline of the pattern on the bisque which is then painted by quick brush strokes that are filled in by hand and sometimes aided with other utensils. Visually, the body of the pottery in brush stroke technique is not a true white, usually it has a blue tinge unlike flow blue transferware in which the white is brighter.

The Top Ten Most Desirable Ironstone Brush Stroke Flow Blue Patterns are:

  1. Cashmere by Ridgway & Francis Morley, circa 1850-1860; somewhat oriental in flavor, just gorgeous!
  2. Aster & Grapeshot by Joseph Clementson which dates 1840 is known in Quebec as Blueberry. It is the most cherished and most expensive of the brush stroke flow blues attained in Canada and is widely collected as Canadianna. Joseph Clementson has a long history connection with Canada.
  3. Spinach or Hops by Petrius Regout, Societe Ceramique, Maastrich, Holland,
  4. Tulip & Sprig by Thomas Walker which dates 1845,
  5. Wheel by unknown maker which dates 1860,
  6. Strawberry by T. Walker which dates 1856,
  7. Blue Bell and its variants by a number of unidentified makers is extremely popular and all dates 1845-1850,
  8. Cherry by unknown maker which dates 1845-1855,
  9. Lotus & Leaf by unidentified maker which dates 1850 and finally
  10. Sea Weed by unidentified maker which dates 1840-50. 

It is unfortunate that many of these beautiful Brush Stroke Flow Blues are not factory marked or identified through research. Many of them were made in various countries such as England, Holland, Germany and France. Their unique appearance clearly sets them apart from all other flow blues.

An array on display in a country farm house with primitive surroundings gives them a real Wow Splash! As far as I am acquainted, the Province of Quebec is the most avid collector for such flow blue. It goes hand-in-hand with the avidly collected Spongeware or commonly known in Quebec as Port Neuf.

Quebec is the largest home of primitives in Canada and Ontario ranks quite high as well. Hand painted pottery wares have always been extremely popular and cherished in Quebec, all the way back to the imports from England and Scotland during the 1840-1900 period. Hand painted pottery has always been the cat's meow amongst Quebecois.

The ardent desire and thirst for such pottery and primitives is evident throughout the old Quebec farmhouses and countryside. Antique stores in Quebec City and the countryside are just brimming with such primitives of top quality. Brush stroke flow blue and Spongeware when found are always at top price regardless of where they are found in Quebec and Ontario.

Due to the fact that there are 10 examples for each category representation - for actual photographic illustrations of these patterns, I would suggest familiarizing oneself with Flow Blue China: An Aid to Identification by Petra Williams, Flow Blue (books I and II), The Collector's Encyclopedia FLOW BLUE CHINA by Mary Frank Gaston and A Collector's Guide to Pattern, History and Values by Jeffrey B. Snyder. All three sources have great color illustrations. Of course no one can outdo Petra Williams who was the fore-running author and expert on the subject of Flow Blue and Mulberry China. She was truly a legend in her time! She first published her three volumes in 1971 and was revised in 1981.

For further information regarding Flow Blue and Transferware please click Media section:  These articles have been published time after time by the Antique & Collectibles Trader magazine upon request from its reading public.  

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