The Victorian & Albert Museum in London has in its collection a number of teacup and plate designs made as pen, ink and watercolor drawings for English bone china manufacturer H. & R. Daniel in the mid 19th century. These drawings speak to the scope and skill of craftsmanship that spill over the boundaries of ceramics themselves yet are closely linked to ceramics.
The background of these drawings also speak to the evolution of business involved in ceramic manufacturing, reflecting the ever-changing world of ceramics. Production of English bone china was a major industry for centuries even though the entire category seems so remote and out of fashion today. (I covered some of these topics in an earlier post.)
Henry Daniels was an artisan who worked for many years as an enameller and color maker for Spode, a major bone China manufacturer. Apparently Daniels served as Spode’s enameller for almost two decades, operating as an independent business on Spode’s premises. A Wikipedia article describes the role of an enameller and the business arrangement between the two firms this way:
“Whiter’s job description of an enameller is of an “art director, a decorating manager, a colour manufacturer and a works chemist”. This illuminates the important role that Daniel held for Spode as he bought blanks from Spode, decorated them in his own rented premises and sold them back to Spode to market.
“Henry Daniel’s relationship with Spode II was that of one businessman to another. Daniel rented his workshop from Spode, paid to grind his colours and have use of the gold pan, purchased all the equipment necessary, hired his own staff and built three kilns on the Spode site.”
Henry’s son Richard joined him in business (hence the name “H. & R. Daniel”) between 1822 and 1846, at which point Henry had died and the firm fell into financial distress. Son Richard was sent to a debtor’s prison.
The Gentle Rattle of China website notes that H&R Daniel company may have fallen victim to the forces of industrialization and mass production:
“The Daniel factory was the last true cottage industry among the English porcelain factories, resisting the increase of industrialisation and mass production. This resulted in extraordinary and unrivalled quality, but it probably also led to the factory having to close its doors in 1846 because it could no longer compete with others who did modernise.”
H. & R. Daniel tea cups and plates are for sale on the internet, including on the Gentle Rattle of China website, although I did not find any examples of pieces that match the teacup design pages in the V&A Museum.
2 thoughts on “Teacup & Plate Designs”
Really interesting history here, and beautiful examples of china pattern drawings. Sounds like an unusual business relationship with Spode, but mutually beneficial. A rapid rise and fall for H & R Daniel it seems. I look forward to some time in the V & A museum this summer.
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The V&A is one of my favorite museums in the world. Absolutely top notch!