One of the most popular style of teawares is bone china, known for its brilliant white base color, delicate designs, yet hardy and practical structure. While bone china originated in the UK, it is now made in other countries also, including China, Taiwan, and India. Time to explore some of the designs popular in England.

Bone china beauties #1 (ETS image)

Bone china beauties #1 (ETS image)

Major Manufacturers

Let’s face it, there are potteries galore. Over the years, some went out of business or were bought by competitors. Today, there are some who stand head and shoulders above the rest, especially when it comes to producing fine bone china teawares.

Wedgwood remains the name in bone china teawares. Their name is synonymous with “top quality.” Their products are sold worldwide under well-recognized brands, including:

  • Waterford — Founded in 1783 by William and George Penrose in the Irish harbor town of Waterford. Today, known worldwide for creating exceptional crystal and glass drinkware, crystal gifts and home accessories.
  • Wedgwood — Founded in 1759 by Josiah Wedgwood who was born in Burslem, Staffordshire, in the heart of the English potteries. He is remembered as “the Father of English Potters” and invented and produced three of Wedgwood’s most famous ceramics: Queen’s Ware (1762), Black Basalt (1768), and Jasper (1774). His successors continued innovating, including bone china. Today, they are producing in the factory built by the fifth Josiah Wedgwood in the 1930s near the village of Barlaston.
  • Royal Doulton — see Royal Doulton by Wedgwood.
  • Royal Albert — see Royal Albert Roses for Your Table and Teaware Patterns: Royal Albert Old Country Roses.
  • Minton — Established in 1793 in Stoke-on-Trent and a bold mix of innovation, tradition, artistry, new technology, Englishness, and the cosmopolitan. A leading Victorian-era ceramic manufacturer and now an enduring classic for luxury tableware, teaware, etc. Queen Victoria called their wares: “Beautiful china…beautifully designed.”
  • Johnson Brothers — Founded in 1882 by four brothers (Alfred, Frederick, Henry, and Robert). They bought the Charles Street Works company in Stoke-on-Trent and made sturdy whiteware with a fine glaze; after World War I they began producing dinnerware that was a solid color throughout so chips weren’t as obvious. They joined the Wedgwood Group in 1968. In 2003, the Johnson Brothers China company moved all its manufacturing operations to China.
  • Franciscan — In 1934 Gladding, McBean & Co. began producing Franciscan dinnerware in Glendale, California. The company started out in 1875 producing sewer tile, adding roof tile, decorative art tiles, garden pottery, and art pottery. In 1962, they became part of International Pipe and Ceramics Corporation (INTERPACE). In 1979 Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, LTD of England acquired Franciscan, renaming them Franciscan Ceramics, Inc. In 1984 all Franciscan production was moved to England.

Crown Trent is in Mayfair, New Bond Street, London, and their production facility is in Stoke-on-Trent; it is one of the few remaining local factories with a fully working kiln. Their team has years of experience in manufacturing, design and decoration of fine bone china items from the simplest of cups, mugs, saucers, teapots, plates, elaborate tea and dinner sets, butter dishes, cake stands, even egg cups.

Adderley Ceramics was started in 1876 as William Alsager Adderley and Co. in Stoke-on-Trent England. They underwent various changes. In 1947, the company was taken over by Ridgway Potteries Ltd. which continued to use the Adderley name.

Caverswall was founded only in 1973 in Staffordshire, England, and focused on top-end wares, continuing the skills and techniques of a bygone age. They are not a mass producer and have a relatively short history (about 40 years as of the posting of this article), so there is very little Caverswall seen for sale in online auctions and virtually none on the secondary market.

Roy Kirkham was founded around 1975 in Staffordshire, England, and is still a family owned and run business, offering a wide range of beautiful dining, kitchen and gift items in exclusive designs. These include fine bone china mugs, breakfast cups, teapots, and dinnerware.

Pollyanna Bone China was founded in 1983 by Bob and Pauline Walpole and has become the epitome of all the good in Stoke-on-Trent bone china manufacturing and the UK china industry. Run now by their sons, Peter and Michael. They have their own Pollyanna brand and are the specialist team behind Doulton, Royal Worcester, Wedgwood, and Coalport, overseeing the production of their most prestigious bone china figurine and tableware collections.

Dunoon Ceramics started production in 1973, making stonewares, and then opened a fine bone china factory 1981. They have achieved quite a reputation in that short time, partly due to their range of designs and their quality. The bone china is lighter to the touch and more translucent than stoneware, so it is easy to tell them apart.

Royal Patrician was founded 1951 in Valencia, California by Herman Dodge. Yet they are a genuine English fine bone china manufacturer in Stoke-on Trent, Staffordshire with values that take you back to a bygone era. A bit confusing but true. They use the “Royal” by choice, not royal warrant.

Susie Cooper Pottery was founded in 1929. However, Susie didn’t begin making fine bone china until the 1950s. The Duchess of York chose Cooper wares in 1933, and in the 1950s The Royal Society of Arts chose her to design its own china range and “Royal Designers for Industry” plate to celebrate their Bicentenary. After 1964, she worked almost exclusively in fine bone china, joining forces with Tuscan ware (aka RH & SL Plant Ltd). The Wedgwood Group bought both Cooper and Tuscan in 1967.

See Part II for some patterns names to note and patterns that use precious metals.

Bone china beauties #2 (ETS image)

Bone china beauties #2 (ETS image)

See also:
Metal vs. Porcelain and Bone China Teapots
Dunoon Tea Mug Design Classics

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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