English Delftware

English Delftware is tin-glazed earthenware that was first made in the United Kingdom around 1550. The style went out of fashion and stopped being made around the early 18th century. At its most popular it was being heavily produced in areas such as Bristol, Liverpool and London, with lower, but still notable areas of production in Glasgow and Dublin. It is called English Delftware to differentiate it from Dutch Delftware, on which it was based, which was produced in and around the city of Delft in Holland. Delftware first started being produced when Flemish potters fled to England from the Low Countries to avoid religious persecution by the Spanish. They brought their pottery styles and production processes with them. Pottery from this early period is hard to distinguish from that which was imported from Holland as they hardly differed.

English Delft

As the English Delftware industry started to become established noticeable divergences occurred from that of the Dutch industry. The styles of paintings, shapes and techniques began to change in order to meet the demands of a new market. Many pieces of English delft have particularly British paintings or commemorations on them that can allow even a novice collector to tell them apart from their Dutch counterparts. For example, one of the earliest known dated pieces of English delft, made in 1600, is inscribed with the message “THE ROSE IS RED THE LEAVES ARE GRENE GOD SAVE ELIZABETH OUR QUEENE”.


The methods used to create English delft were simpler than those used by the Dutch. Most continental potters used a transparent overglaze on their pieces, something that English potters of the time rarely did. Many things were made from delftware including mugs, plates, candlesticks, salt pots, wine bottles, and paving tiles. Large dishes made of delft were especially popular, both for their decorations and utility. Delft was often used to commemorate important events, such as weddings. While English delft is popular among collectors, the price a piece can attract, as with most antique pottery, can in large part be determined by the maker of the piece. The maker can usually be determined by the mark they left on the item.

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