Aside from the design, what do these two pieces of pottery have in common with each other? The answer is that they’re both twentieth-century reproductions designed to look like early nineteenth-century originals. Sadly one frequently sees these particular pieces being offered for sale (unwittingly or otherwise) as genuine period antiques.
The image on the front of both pieces is an adaptation of Charles Williams The Governor of Europe Stoped in His Career (1803) and it was widely used to decorate creamware pottery during the Napoleonic Wars. However the design appears to have been picked up by a number of potteries during the period between 1900 and 1930.
So how do you tell whether one of these pieces is genuine or not? Well, I’m not an expert on pottery but here’s a couple of useful pointers that I’ve gleaned from books and a little hands on experience over the years:
- Check the glaze. Both these pieces show signs of extreme ‘crazing’ which resemble lots of tiny cracks running across the surface of the vessel. This is the result of a firing technique designed to artificially age the pot and will almost always be far more severe than anything you’re likely to see on a genuine antique.
- Pick it up. Reproductions such as this are usually a lot heavier than genuine pieces of early nineteenth-century creamware. Granted, this doesn’t help you much with an online sale but it can come in handy if you’re comparing items in a saleroom.
- Check for makers marks. Pretty obvious really but it’s always worth flipping the thing over to see if there’s any markings that could be used to date the piece.
- Reproduction creamware jugs carrying the ‘Success to the Volunteers’ design are always printed in red ink. Red ink was also used in the early 1800s, so this shouldn’t completely rule a piece out as being a fake, but it should tell you to keep your wits about you before bidding / buying.
- This design does not appear on any known example of Sunderlandware before the twentieth-century. If you see one then it is a later reproduction. End of story.