Saturday, April 12, 2014

To Serve and Project: The Bow Porcelain Coffee Pot, 1760

Coffee Pot
Bow Porcelain Factory, 1760
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This ornate pot was for intended for making and serving coffee. In the Eighteenth Century, when this coffee pot was made, coffee was usually drunk with milk, and often sweetened with sugar. At the time, Britain was importing approximately 3,000,000 lbs of coffee beans per annum, and nearly two-thirds of that came from plantations in the West Indies with the remainder from Arabia.

Coffee pots very similar to this one were made at the Niderviller faïence factory in Lorraine on the edge of eastern France. This example, from c. 1760, was made in at the Bow Porcelain Factory, London. Both the Bow and Niderviller pieces were possibly copied from an original pot which was made at the Italian Doccia porcelain factory near Florence.

The Bow factory use a porcelain making technique which strengthened the material with bone ash, making it suitable for tea- and table-wares. Bow was primarily concerned with utilitarian wares, but every so often, they’d create a special luxury piece like this one.

The pot is baluster shaped and it is modeled with a Rococo scroll and shell motif. The piece has been painted with exotic birds; with scrolls picked out in puce, blue and gilding.

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