Delftware dates as far back as the 1600's, when the Dutch East India Company imported Chinese porcelain in blue and white.
It was originally a low-fired earthenware coated in a thin opaque glaze with painted on blue or polychrome designs. It did not become known as Delft until the mid-19th century. The name orginated from a Dutch village that was the area of major production. Why it was such a major area for production of Delft is not really known. Some believe it was because there were so many empty buildings due to the ailing brewery industry.
It was produced by many different potters and potteries; German, English, and French. During the early part of the 18th century a German potter, Bottger, developed a formula for porcelain. In England, Wedgwood began producing creamware. By 1800 there were 32 earthenware potteries in Delft. With the production of the more durable porcelain and creamware and Eastern porcelain becoming less expensive, Delft potteries, one by one, failed. By 1860, the one remaining Delft pottery was De Porceleyne Fles(The Porcelain Jar). De Porceleyne Fles was founded in 1653 by David Anthonisz van der Pieth. It changed hands many times and endured many difficulties to survive.
In 1876 Delftware with blue and white Dutch themes was introduced. Some of the scenes still produced today were: windmills, Dutch countryside, and children.
By the end of the 19th century, only a few of the factories existed. In order to survive, the production of the old techniques of handpainted Delftware was given up and was changed to print in mass production.
Joost Thooft, a Delft engineer, bought the factory. His goal was to reintroduce the old technique of handpainted Delft blue. With the help of an associate, Abel Labouchere, he was able to produce a mixture of clay that resembled the stronger, white English earthenware.
Together they were able to produce the now world famous "Delft". In 1919, by Royal warrant, De Porceleyne Fles received the designation Royal as a token of appreciation to the company for restoring the fame of Delft and the ceramics industry. It is now known as Royal Delft.
Although today there are several manufacturers of Delftware, Royal Delft is the most well known and respected. The respect it has gained comes from the fact that it has strived throughout its history for perfection of its product.
PRODUCT LINES OF ROYAL DELFT
Delftware - Decorated in blue on a white background. The motifs originate from Chinese porcelain from the Ming and Kang Hsi dynasties. Original Dutch land and seascapes have been used since 1653.
Delft Black - It was introduced at the 325th anniversary of the factory. It is blue, red, and yellow on a black background.
Polychrome - It is a multicolored technique which is similar to Italian Majolica. It consists of yellow, green, blue and russet.
Pijnacker - The origin of this technique is from the Japanese Imari porcelain. It consists of red, blue, and 24 carat gold decoration.
Commemoration plates - Special plates ordered to commemorate birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, etc.
Unique Pieces - An artist designs and decorates a new line. Only one copy is made of each object.
Delft Green (Delvert)and Delflore was produced for many years, but has since been discontinued. Handmade items are still sold.