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Subject:19th century Chinese blanks, could someone explain?
Posted By: Endre Thu, Dec 14, 2017 IP: 2600:1700:6a40:2460:

I recently came by a cup on Etsy, by searching for rose medallion cup. I’m not going to post the link, but it should be easy to find. I noticed that it looks exactly like one of my shaving mugs- other than the pattern. It also appears to be the same shape-handle,rim, and foot as documented canton pieces in known collections. These cups I see have no mark at the base. I think the mug I have always presumed German, may actually be a Chinese blank decorated in USA. I understand this activity was very popular in the 19th century. Shaving mugs I believe were mostly produced between 1870-1920. These may be ignorant or novice questions, but I would like to know a little more about Chinese blanks, if anyone would be able to explain. I did find a little information, as follows:

From notions and fancy goods, volume 43 (1909), speaking about safety razors. “New ideas in shaving mugs..... manufacturers and importers of fancy goods have not been slowin perceiving the possibilities s new development, and have spent considerable time and money in designing new and original patterns.....made not only for show, but for practical use, and will make good articles for Christmas and holiday presents. A new line of porcelain mugs which are decorated with the insignia in colors of almost every known society or fraternal order... some of the new ornamental porcelain mugs are beautifully decorated with gold in Doulton, and other effects, which are exceedingly beautiful and artistic”

I know some fraternal organizations have emblems on Canton porcelain going back quite some time. Were these mugs which the previous quote describes, imported as well-from China? I have no idea about trade relations between European countries in the times leading up to the First World War.

I found a little more info at, the wise collector .com
“The shapes of Chinese export plates, pitchers, and other items were taken from European silver. Blanks were taken from inland potteries to be decorated in Canton... As was typical of Victorian taste, nearly every use possible was answered in shape or piece in Chinese export porcelain. Garden seats, shaving mugs, baby plates, cider jugs, tea sets, coffee sets, toothbrush holders, punch bowls, paintbrush boxes, candlesticks, syllabus cups, ginger jars, egg cups, and platters are just a few that can be found”

So, I have a couple of questions if you may be so kind. Are some of my presumably German shaving mugs, etc. actually blanks from China, decorated right here? I appreciate it as always, for any information whatsoever you could share

Subject:Re: 19th century Chinese blanks, could someone explain?
Posted By: Endre Sun, Dec 17, 2017

Well, I think it is safe to say that yes, some of the hobbyist and small decorator shops did in fact use blanks of various mid to late western shapes imported from China, along with the French and German blanks. All of which are decorated in various styles and techniques of the era. Not that it is significant to collectibility or monetary value, I am under the impression that the price and collectibility are only commensurate to the quality, shape, and collector taste, on unmarked items of this time frame. Towards mid 20th century many blanks were imported from Japan

Subject:Re: 19th century Chinese blanks, could someone explain?
Posted By: Bill H Mon, Dec 18, 2017

European blanks were decorated frequently in China during the mid-to-late 19th century, but I've not heard of Chinese blanks being decorated in Europe, though some of the Staffordshire, Limoges and Meissen imitations of the Chinese style were rather good.

The Taiping Rebels, who had become a problem shortly after the Xianfeng Emperor came to the throne in 1851, invaded Jingdezhen in 1855 and proceeded to lay waste to kilns and assassinate potters. The impact on production of high quality porcelain blanks and painted porcelain was felt for decades.

After the Opium Wars wound down in the 1840s, the British and French had imposed their control over inland riverine transport for the last half of the 19th century, and there is ample evidence that they brought in foreign porcelain blanks for decoration in China. In my own collection I have examples of Chinese-painted porcelain from Limoges and the "German" Tielsch kiln (in Silesia at that time).

Much Chinese porcelain, mainly 18th century blue & white wares, was decorated in the Netherlands and elsewhere on the Continent and in England by groups (I've heard they were composed mainly of women) who clobbered and refired it with additional overglaze iron red motifs. However, I've yet to see any evidence of an active flow of Chinese blanks to Europe in either the 18th or 19th century. It must be kept in mind that the mystique of having anything at all from far-off China was as much a driving force in the trade as the dishes themselves. Moreover, there was no nouveaux riches class of customers until the Industrial Revolution had spread form England to the rest of the world in the 19th century. And by the time it did, Chinese porcelain was pretty shoddy when you flipped it over to the gritty side. But this new class of conspicuous consumers tended to favor Chinese porcelain with Chinese decoration over all the European stuff just like their forebears.

This is one guy's view, but maybe others can jump in with their own perspectives.

Best regards,

Bill H.

Subject:Re: 19th century Chinese blanks, could someone explain?
Posted By: Endre Tue, Dec 19, 2017

Hi Bill, I appreciate your reply and sharing your knowledge. I read your previous post a little bit too late! What sparked my curiosity in the first place, is a cup in the book China for America, on page 105. As it states (showing a European style shave mug, and various other export shapes) “mass-produced porcelain was made in many variations such as these”. It made me ponder upon some of mugs. From the catalog I mentioned, I gather that they are advertising their mugs as being finest high quality imported porcelain decorated in Doulton. I figure England was in competition with Germany and France at that time, and would not consider Germany or France porcelains higher quality. I’m not an expert on European history, or late 19th century trading practices in England. I also stumbled upon a decorator in Boston who was using Chinese plates, I will need to dig that up. I think the impression at the time, was that Chinese porcelains were the best and they may be able to brag about high quality exotic wares, and now more people could afford it. So theoretically I would think, why not? Only my take on it. I look forward to hear more, it is an intriguing possibility

Subject:Re: 19th century Chinese blanks, could someone explain?
Posted By: Endre Tue, Dec 19, 2017

I just wanted to post a couple of images, for consideration to go along with previous posts. I have many things from Bavaria, Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia- almost all are clearly marked. I think I do have a few Limoges nappy dishes that are unmarked. The two pieces I have in question are labeled p24 and p25. Number 24 has a handle that reminds me of Chinese, but the chrome paint looks American or English decorated. Number 24 has a resemblance to the mug in the background, and the foot and base look like the mug I mentioned on the Etsy listing, which is no longer there. Might these two examples in the third photo just me unmarked European items, quite possibly- and the mug in the background be that of which Bill mentioned- transported for decoration in the East. I am unsure, there is a mention of this on a link here:

I was under the assumption that the Chinese have always been appeasing to produce what an importer wished to be made-however, with money labor and political conditions in China, Bill you may be spot on. I think it is likely to be that some oriental blanks were produced in China being imported to the west for small decorating firms and student/ hobbyists- but in small numbers. Look forward to hearing more thoughts

Subject:Re: 19th century Chinese blanks, could someone explain?
Posted By: Endre Tue, Dec 19, 2017

I have one more tidbit to add, a book by Jean McClure Mude titled Chinese Export Porcelain of North America, pg248 “A name of export porcelain during the colonial period and after in North America.......Some blank Chinese export wares were also painted here, as they were in other places, but the term should not be applied as a general term to export from China.”
I do not own this book, and this preview had quite a bit missing- so I don’t know the whole scope of what the author is saying. Just thought I would add this to the conversation

Subject:Re: 19th century Chinese blanks, could someone explain?
Posted By: wil hugers Thu, Dec 21, 2017

Read this.
Greething Wil

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