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The Begining: a Saint Cloud salt, circa 1700

We are always fascinated by the origins of things…. when and where did it all begin?

In the porcelain world, it was of course China, around 1,000 years ago. This was so foreign and magical to the Europeans that pieces which made the perilous journey across the globe were only affordable by the most wealthy, being far more valuable than gold.

This all changed as the lure of such riches led to experimentation, and the first instance of a European porcelain body appears in the Medici courts in the 16th century, bankrolled by Francesco I; today, only 70 pieces have been identified, and the enterprise was a dead-end.

An example of Rouen Porcelain in the Sevres Museum.

The next successful production appears in France. In Rouen, a pottery industry had for many years been producing Faience – earthenware pieces with a white tin-glaze, as an imitation of a white porcelain body. They developed a distinct design, known as a ‘Lambrequin’ – a border with repetitive symmetrical floral elements, borrowed from Baroque designs often seen in embroideries, metalworks, and related artistic products. In 1673, a privilege to make porcelain was granted to Louis Poterat, and he seems to have experimented without a viable production of commercial scale resulting – only a possible dozen Rouen porcelain pieces have ever been identified. A 1702 comment in the petition from the next factory mentioned described the Rouen effort at porcelain manufacturing as this:

“…..(they) did nothing more than approach the secret, and never brought it to the perfection these petitioners have acquired”.

-1703 Saint Cloud Royal Petition
A French Faience (tin-glazed earthenware) charger from the late 17th century, showing the distinct ‘Lambrequin’ borders seen on Saint Cloud porcelain products.
The designs are ‘le style de Berain’, taken from the 17th century designs of Berain, who was influenced by earlier Baroque designs which had borrowed heavily from Roman wall paintings!
This example in the Rosenberg Collection, Geelong, is probably Moustiers (Clerissy workshop), but is typical of the type made at Rouen during the period discussed.

The first commercially successful porcelain manufacturer is the factory at Saint Cloud.
This manufactury, like Rouen, began as a faience producer. A 1664 ‘Royal Privilege’ was given to a Parisian merchant named Claude Révérend, ‘ produce faience and to imitate porcelain in the manner of the Indies (China) ‘ As a merchant, he was importing faience from Holland, and would have been very familiar with the superior Chinese porcelains.
He selected a manufacturing base, and in 1666 set out to make faience products – in the manner of Rouen – on the outskirts of Paris, at Saint-Cloud. Within a few months, Claude Révérend had passed ownership to his brother, Francois Révérend. He had actually lived for many years in Rouen, and it is no surprise that these first products of Saint Cloud faience are very close to Rouen products.

Three examples of Saint-Cloud porcelain currently in stock at Moorabool – links below.

An artist employed at this time to paint the tin-glazed faience wares named Pierre Chicaneau is the important character in the development of the first commercial porcelain production in Europe. He is possibly from Rouen, and George Savage speculated in his 1960 “Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century French Porcelain” that he may have been exposed to the porcelain experiments while there.
He begins at Saint Cloud in the 1660’s, and in 1674 he was made the firm’s director. He died in 1677, and it is the documents provided by his widow’s petition to the King for a Royal Privilege to make porcelain that gives us the full story of what was happening in Saint Cloud through the late 1660’s and early 1670’s; active pursuit of the secret of making porcelain.
His widow wrote in the 1700 petition

“Pierre Chicaneau, having applied himself for many years to the making of faience and having arrived at a very high level of perfection in this work, wanted to push his knowledge still further and find the secret of making true porcelain; for this purpose he undertook several experiments with different materials and tried different finishing techniques, which resulted in works that were almost as perfect as the porcelain of China and the Indes”

-1700 Saint Cloud Royal petition by the Chicaneau family

They go on to state the first success – a repeatable, commercial prospect that allowed manufacturing of the product – was achieved by the firm around 1693.
Dr Martin Lister, physician to Queen Anne in England and prolific writer, visited the works in 1698, writing;

“I saw the potterie of St Clou with which I was marvellously well pleased, for I confess I could not distinguish betwixt the pots made there and the finest China ware I ever saw. It will, I know, be easily granted me that the painting may be better designed and finished because our men are far better masters of that art than the Chineses; but the glazing came not the least behind theirs, not for whiteness, nor the smoothness for running without bubbles. Again, the inward substance and matter of the pots was, to me, the very same, hard and firm as marble, and the self same grain on this side vitrification. Farther, the transparency of the pots the very same.”

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Examples of Saint Cloud in Moorabool’s current stock – click for more

Moorabool is pleased to offer a piece of this earliest commercial production from what can be seen as the first European Porcelain Manufacturer*.
Our piece was a necessity on the elegant tables of the time, where salt was an important – and expensive – commodity that enhanced the dining experience. It was also a status symbol, as while the Crown imposed a tax on salt (la gabelle), exemption was made for the privileged Nobles and Clergy.

Several of these open salts would have been scattered down the table amongst diners. There are metal examples of the same form, and clearly the porcelain copies them.

Moustiers Faience Lambrequin border
Moustiers Faience Lambrequin border from the dish illustrated previously.

The decoration is classic Saint-Cloud, with a repeating pattern of lambrequin motifs in underglaze blue. Such decoration appears on the full range of Saint-Cloud shapes, such as cups & saucers, cosmetic jars, and even eggcups. Comparing the patterns on ours with other examples is fascinating, as it appears the artist was not faithful to any specific design – there are endless slight variations regarding the location of the various leaves, flowerheads, and the symmetrical tendrils that define them.

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The ‘Sun’ mark is the earliest Saint-Cloud mark, and refers to the most important patron in France – Louis XIV, the ‘Sun King’. The factory location at Saint-Cloud was chosen because of the King’s younger brother, Duc d’Orleans, had an estate there, and became a patron of the fledgling factory. Louis XIV died in 1715, and the mark would most probably not have been used after that date; the more usual ‘St C’ begins during the second decade of the 18th century, and is identifiable as being post- 1722 by the addition of a ‘T’ beneath, indicating the change of Director to Henri Trou in that year. They continued making similar porcelain wares throughout the 1730’s-40’s, and finally closed in 1766.

Saint Cloud Sun Mark circa 1700
Saint Cloud ‘Sun King’ mark on our salt, 1693-1722.
The standard Saint-Cloud mark, including the ‘T’ for Trou.
The second example (Rosenberg Collection, Geelong) has an extra ‘h’, a painter’s mark.
Not all Saint Cloud pieces are marked – and some have ‘painters marks’, usually an alphabet letter. This selection in Moorabool stock, or in the Rosenberg Collection.

Other examples can be seen various museum collections around the globe;
the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris has 5 examples, of which 2 have the ‘Sun’ mark and are dated 1697-1700, while the other three are unmarked and catalogued “Saint Cloud or Paris”, post-1700 (reflecting the other porcelain manufactories in Paris who copied Saint Cloud in the early 18th century). In 1997, the collection catalogue (Christine Lahaussois) suggests a date of 1697-1700. In 1999, the catalogue for a NY exhibition (“Discovering the Secrets of Soft-Paste Porcelain at The Saint-Cloud Manufactory”, editor Bertrand Rondot) illustrates three of the same examples as definite Saint-Cloud, and dates them all post-1700, with the closest to our example (including a Sun mark) being 1700-1715.

An example with the same ‘Sun’ mark, similar decoration, can be seen in the British Museum, dated 1700-1710

An example in the Victoria & Albert, London, is very similar, with the ‘Sun’ mark, dated conservatively 1693-1724.
(It even has a chip to the rim – although unlike our example, un-restored!)

An example on display in the V&A, # C.474-1909

Sources & Further Reading:

George Savage “Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century French Porcelain” 1960

Bertrand Rondot (editor) “Discovering the Secrets of Soft-Paste Porcelain at The Saint-Cloud Manufactory” 1999

Aileen Dawson “French Porcelain -a catalogue of the British Museum Collection” 1994

Christine Lahaussois “Porcelaines de Saint-Cloud, La collection du Musee des Arts Décoratifs” 1997

*I should note; when I use the term ‘Porcelain’ in this article, it is best described as ‘Artificial Porcelain’, meaning it was not the same as the Chinese products, as it lacked one of the main ‘stiffening’ ingredients. This is commonly called ‘Soft-Paste’, and defined the earliest French and English products.
True Porcelain, in the Chinese manner, was produced by the Chinese from around the Song Dynasty (900 AD), and in Europe, the experiments at Dresden (and subsequent production at Meissen) were by chance identical in their basic ingredients, and this product is known as ‘Hard Paste’.

There is also a ‘Soft-Paste’ twist, with some fascinating experimental products appearing in England in the latter 17th century, possibly pre-dating the French efforts. John Dwight of Fulham was awarded a patent for porcelain in 1671, and may well have been successful – but not commercially!

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The Hope Service Plate, Flight Worcester c. 1790-2

Lavish is the word that best describes this Flight Worcester plate. It’s from the ‘Hope’ service, ordered in 1789 by William Henry, the Duke of Clarence, who was the third son of King George III and eventual inheritor of the British throne at the age of 64 after both brothers died without heirs.

William IV
William IV

The subject was chosen by him, and reflects his military career. Each piece has a different rendition of ‘Hope’ with her anchor, with a ship in the background. He had joined the Royal Navy in his youth, serving in North America and the Caribbean under Nelson. Nicknamed the ‘Sailor King’ when he came to the throne, it is little wonder he chose this nautical theme for his service.

The Hope Service, Flight Worcester, 1790
The Hope Service, Flight Worcester, 1790

Securing the service commission was a major event for the ailing Worcester factory, which had been purchased by John Flight in 1783. It was William’s second commission from the factory, the first being the ‘St Andrew’ service, celebrating his achievement of the Order of St Andrew, earlier in 1789.

John Flight recorded in his diary in January 1790:

‘We used our two best painters last week to make some very fine designs for the Duke of Clarence, we have already completed 3 plates and I have sent them to London. One is a gold arabesque design, another the figure of Hope, the other of Patience.’

A few days later on 24th January John Flight added:

‘Apart from the two plates mentioned… we have made two others with figures, Peace and Plenty. H.R.H. Duke of Clarence has decided on the Hope design with the decoration that we put on the Peace plate, he has ordered a table service that will amount to more than £700 sterling. He has given us a year in which to complete it…’


The Hope Service Plate
A plate from ‘The Hope Service’, Flight Worcester 1790, made for the Duke of Clarence, later King William IV.

It is interesting to track down some original tabloid gossip from the period:

'Hope Service' described in the Claredon Post, 1791
‘Hope Service’ described in a 1791 Clarendon Post

This news article intended to impress, inflating the price and the number of pieces. The comment about it being ‘particularly appropriate to the nautical profession of the royal proprietor …’ is interesting, as William was indeed a Navy officer. His father George III had determined he should join the Royal Navy, and so he entered the navy at 13 as a midshipman. He saw active service in the War of American Independence (targeted in a kidnap plot by an agent of George Washington in New York, 1782!), and became a friend of Nelson. He was placed on the Warwick under Captain George Keith Elphinstone, and spent time in the Caribbean. In 1789 he returned to England, where his father the King’s health was failing, but although he received promotions to rear-admiral, vice-admiral, and in 1799 admiral, the navy refused his pleas for a return to active service. When he gained the throne in 1830, he was affectionately known as ‘The Sailor King’.

'Hope Service' described in the Derby Mercury, 1791
‘Hope Service’ described in the Derby Mercury, 1791

Another news article, in the ‘Derby Mercury’ in 1791, quotes the same inflated price – 800 Guineas (more than the £700 Flight recorded in his journal) – but gets the number of pieces right at 296. The story related of his ‘Blue-blooded Britishness’ is fantastic – if it happened. He was offered a set of  ‘Avignon China’ (French porcelain of some type) he refused, saying while OTHERS may be happy with foreign products, he wouldn’t even accept a piece of furniture that wasn’t British!


The back of this plate has a large pasted label, which declares the following:

Hope Service Label
Hope Service Label

Specimen of the Celebrated Service of Old Worcester
Porcelain, made and presented to Lord Nelson by the
Nation, bequeathed by him to King William the Fourth
who gave it to his son Lord Frederick Fitzclarence
and in whose Will the full particulars are given –

It passed by marriage to the Earl of Erol and was
his up to May 1893 when it was dispersed at Christies
and realised nearly the sum of £2000.

This is of course different to what has been described at the top of this page, and is a fascinating example of mis-information. This old label provides us with the source of this mis-information, the Christies auction which dispersed the service in 1893. They of course got their information from the Earl of Erol, who had inherited it from his father, the illegitimate son of William IV,  Fitzclarence. It was in this will that ‘the particulars’  were given, and so the confusion appears to have arisen right back then, just the next generation from when it was a wonderful new service that impressed the nation.

These days, there are pieces in major collections all over the world;   the V&A has a fine example comparable with this one , as is another in the British Museum. We also have no less than a trio of them ‘across the road’ in Geelong, in the Geelong Art Gallery collection.


Hope Service - Geelong Art Gallery
Hope Service – Geelong Art Gallery


Hope Service - Geelong Art Gallery
Hope Service – Geelong Art Gallery









We are pleased to have a magnificent example as part of our 2016 Catalogue, and as a key piece in our Exhibition which opens on June 18th.

It’s a particularly nice example, being the one John Sandon illustrated in his 1993 book ” The Dictionary of Worcester Porcelain: 1751-1851




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Stunning Sèvres discovery, by Antoine-Joseph Chappuis (l’âiné), 1765

Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765-15584



The Royal French porcelain manufactory at Sèvres was well patronized by the French court, and the pieces they created were meant to be the most flamboyant and impressive luxuries imaginable. This pink ground cup & saucer certainly qualifies.

Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765-0
Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765
Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765-15598
Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765

Important Sèvres cup and saucer, goblet et soucoup enfoncé, premiere grandeur , superbly painted by Antoine-Joseph Chappuis (aîné), with four panels of birds in landscapes, framed within rich tooled gold borders against a ground of blue and gold oeil-de-perdrix on a pink ground.

Crossed ‘L’s’ mark,

also date letter ‘M’ for 1765,

‘cp’ for artist Antoine-Joseph Chappuis (aîné),

incised cup repairer’s mark ‘00’ & ‘ae’

Madame de Pompadour was probably responsible for the inception of this unusual form of saucer, with its deep well ensuring the cup cannot be easily upset. The form appears in 1753, and as she was failing in health with tuberculosis, a socketed saucer negated the risk of spilling her drink due to a shaking hand or coughing fit. Factory records show that all examples of this type made were purchased by her until her death in 1764. The next recorded sale was in October 1765 to Princess Louise-Marie of France, youngest daughter of Louis XV. Its present whereabouts are unrecorded, and this example has a high possibility of being the goblet et soucoup enfoncé, premiere grandeur in question.


Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765
Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765

They were one-off products, and examples vary wildly in decoration. An example in the Getty Museum is thought to have belonged to Madame de Pompadour. It has a saucer with an unknown repairer’s mark (00), the same as on this cup. The gilding appears on numerous examples from this period, often with small inconsistencies such as can be seen in the above detail, where the gold doesn’t quite cover the ground.

The artist Chappuis ‘l’aîne’ was a long-term employee at Sèvres, being apprenticed as a répareur (maker) in 1756, became a painter in 1761, became the deputy ‘head of kilns’ in 1782 , and  in charge of the kilns for the final year of his life in 1787.

His wonderfully vivid birds are distinct amongst the Sèvres artists repertoire, and a piece such as this important  goblet et soucoup enfoncé, premiere grandeur show Sèvres at its best.


Provenance: The Antique Porcelain Company, NY


Similar gilding can  seen on a can & saucer in the British Museum, #110 in Dawson’s book ‘French Porcelain in the British Museum’, also #112.

An écoulle, cover & stand with the same decoration was sold as part of the Giuseppe Rossi collection, Sothebys London 1999 lot 518

A coffee can & saucer with similar ground, also with birds by  Antoine-Joseph Chappuis (l’âiné), 1766,   at the Victorian & Albert Museum, South Kensington

Similar items at auction:

A cup & saucer with the same ground, very similar birds by another artist, Aloncle, 1765, at Christies London 2015.

A wonderful teapot with the same unknown repairer’s mark (00), also painted by the same artist, Antoine-Joseph Chappuis (l’âiné), 1765, sold by Bonhams London in 2014.

A cup & saucer of the same form, birds by Aloncle, 1763, sold at Christies NY 

Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765-15579
Sevres socketed cup & saucer with birds by Chappuis, 1765
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It’s a funny thing….

Humour is a funny thing. We always groaned at our parents jokes; they were so old-fashioned & not funny. Now my kids do the same to mine – today, humour is rapidly moving on, along the evolutionary path to the greatest possible laugh. I just don’t get a lot of it. lol.

Looking back, the old humour of previous centuries is just as odd. Moorabool has a fantastic selection of ‘ceramic laughs’ to share in our upcoming exhibition. Most are Staffordshire figures, or the German porcelain ‘fairings’ – cheaper clumsier models, the humour often risqué  and bad-taste. This ‘cheap’ appearance would suggest that the people laughing were the poorer folk. However, this is clearly not the case, as we have some very rare porcelain versions of the same subject as the Staffordshire pottery models, and they are sophisticated and would have been expensive.

Early Minton Figures c.1825 Cobblers Wife & Friar
Early Minton Figures c.1825 in front of the original 1820’s Minton shapes book, as reproduced in Godden’s  ‘Minton’

The Cobbler & his Wife,

otherwise known as Jobson and Nell, comes from a Georgian popular poem. It was immensely popular, re-printed many times throughout the second half of the 18th century and well into the 19th. The story is simple; the village cobbler, Jobson, was a bit of a drinker, and went on the occasional binge. When this happened, no shoes got mended. When the village parson desperately needed his shoes done for Sunday, Jobson ‘left him in the lurch’, stating that the Parson could do them himself – because he was well used to ‘cobbling soles’ …. and that’s the humorous bit: the play on words between soul and sole. A cobbler and a Parson being practically the same in their careers. 

Early Minton Figure c.1825 Cobblers Wife
Early Minton Figure c.1825 Cobblers Wife

Of course, the poem goes on another dozen verses, with his wife Nell seeking to blackmail him into behaving by giving him no supper; Jobson resolves this by pinching the Parson’s roast beef dinner for himself! The Parson runs around until he finds his roast beef in Jobson’s house,

“When he found his roat Beef / It gave him relief / To think he his meal should not lose / Down together they sat / And eat both lean and fat / And forgave Jobson keeping the Shoes. “

Quite slapstick, and not producing many belly laughs today, the poem would have perfectly suited a pantomime – for which purpose it was adapted. There were numerous variations of the pottery figures produced in Staffordshire, and surprisingly they were also one of the earliest figures in the Minton Factory shape book of the 1820’s. While the Staffordshire examples are often crudely potted and would not have sold for much, the pottery examples we have are as good as they get. Dating to circa 1800, they are well modelled and well coloured, and have the unusual feature of the names of each character impressed into the front of their plinth. 

Early Staffordshire figures - Old Age ,  Jobson & Nell, c. 1820
Early Staffordshire figures – Old Age , Jobson & Nell, c. 1820

The Minton example is in the factory’s bone china body, a beautiful creamy white. The colours are well done, and there is the added expense of gold, which would have instantly vastly inflated the price. The form is also interesting; it follows a metal ‘chimney piece’ shape, where small metal ornaments cast as a flat panel were placed on the narrow shelf of a mantel piece. There are only a handful in the Minton shape book, and they are rare at other factories also; obviously they were a breakable product, not a suitable substitute for the usual cast brass ornaments. 

Early Minton Figure c.1825 Drink, or The Friar
Early Minton Figure c.1825 Drink, or The Friar

The second Minton porcelain chimney piece that Moorabool has is ‘The Friar’. (They came together, and bear the Australian Antique import seal of the 1920’s-30’s …. nice to think they have always been together since they were purchased new almost 200 years ago) This curios piece is yet another enigmatic piece of early humour. Along the plinth runs the verse “PRO OMNIBUS BIBO”, which translates as “I drink for the benefit of all“. Funny?  almost, in the context of a friar being there to serve the community. There is much more to this story, though, in the form of a tale that comes from the popular folk tales of the ‘wandering Jew’. In this tale, ‘Pro omnibus bibo’ was the ‘song sung in solo’ by one of the monks at a great monastery the wandering Jew visited in France. All the brethren had been confined to their beds by sickness, leaving the single friar to go through the devotions all by himself….. including consuming the entire allocation of ale usually divided amongst his comrades! This image of a stout friar swigging directly from the barrel must have really amused people at the time. The image we have traced to a frontispiece on a song sheet published in 1830, the words by E. Whatmore, the music composed by Edward Schultz.  

Imagine… pre-TV, pre- internet, the family gathering around the piano to sing a jolly funny song about a friar that liked to drink a lot. What fun we miss out on these days! lol/ (;

These & more exciting pieces will be a part of our 2015 Exhibition & Sale of Recent Acquisitions, to be held in Geelong, opening March 28th at 11.