Vol. 2 Issue 11
Flow Blue dates as far back as 1835 and was produced through the early 1900's. It has been produced in every conceivable type of wares from chamber pots to dinnerware to tea services. It was produced
in other colors such as sepia, puce, and mulberry, but cobalt was the most popular. It has been called "flow blue", "flo blue", and "flown blue".
Most flow blue was initially produced in England, mainly in the Staffordshire region. Some of the potters that are more familiar are: Meigh, Grindley, The Johnson Brothers, Meakin, New Wharf, Podmore
and Walker, Samuel Alcock, Ridgway, John Wedge Wood(he often signed his pieces "Wedgewood"), and Davenport. About 90% of flow blue was produced in England with the rest in Germany, France,
Holland, Scotland, Wales, and Belgium. Later there were some American makers that began producing flow blue. Some of them were French China Co., Homer Laughlin China Co., Mercer Pottery Co.,
Sebring Pottery Co., Warwick China Co., and Wheeling Pottery Co.
There are approximately 1500 patterns. A very popular theme to the patterns were oriental, such as Willow. Some patterns were made by editing one pattern to make another. It covered many mistakes by
a potter and some pieces were so blurred that it was hard to identify the center patterns from the border patterns.
The term "flow blue" comes from the way the cobalt blue transfer bleeds onto the white ceramic background. Some of it is obviously blurred or is smeared looking to an almost bearly visible flow. Although
cobalt blue would flow naturally, it was discovered later that it could be induced to flow. Flow Blue is achieved by introducing lime or chloride of ammonia during the glaze firing. The ink would them spread
to cause the print to have a softer look. Transfer printing can also be quite messy. The transfer ink would get on the hands and fingers of those transferring the designs onto the pieces. So, occasionally, you
will find a finger print of the transferrer on the back of some of the pieces. Don't mistake a piece that is blue and white for flow blue. Some seem to call any piece that is blue and white as "flow blue".
Dating of Flow Blue Patterns:
Early Victorian: c. 1835-1860 - The earliest patterns were mostly Oriental due to the popularity of Chinese porcelain. British and American historical scenes were also popular. There were also scenic patterns
in the early flow blue pieces. They were more of a romantic version of reality; somewhat unrealistic. The Oriental designs were also unrealistic. Some of the oriental designs included bamboo, willow, palms,
tea houses, pagodas, apple trees bridges, porches, towers, and small customed figures. Stylized Far-Eastern and Arabic patterns were included in the borders of the earlier plates. Some of the border patterns
also included small medallions repeated in the center.
Middle Victorian: 1860's - 1870's - During the Middle Victorian period, the floral designs were predominantly in the center. Some floral patterns were also found in the Early Victorian pieces, but they were
found mostly in the Middle Victorian period. Many patterns used during the Middle Victorian period were obtained from many different sources and were mixed and matched to create many designs. Some
Oriental plates were found to have European flowers
or Gothic devices in the borders. Some borders had elaborate scroll works, shells, foliage, or cartouches (a series of medallions framing small scenes
or bouquets). Statues, columns, wreaths, and urns with ferns and flowers were also added.
Late Victorian: 1880's - early 1900's - Art Nouveau designs were used during this period. Medieval cathedrals were also used occasionally. This period was less elaborate than the earlier periods. Japanese
art was the influence during this period also. The Art Nouveau style was curved designs taken from the natural shapes of flowers and plants. Plates with floral transfers was found in abundance. Some of the
transfers were found on the borders; some filled the plate.
DATING FLOW BLUE
The dating of flow blue is quite extensive. Therefore, next month's newsletter will cover the dating of flow blue with the manufacturer's marks and registrations marks.
Schroeder's Antiques and Price Guide, 18th Edition
Kovel's Antiques & Collectibles Price List, 1991
Warman's Americana & Collectibles, 8th Edition
Warman's Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide, 32nd Edition
Flow Blue, A Collector's Guide To Patterns, History, & Values
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