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18th Century English Earthenwares

Four Fresh pieces of English Earthenware, 18th century, just added to stock.


Creamware is the term for an English earthenware body with a definite ‘cream’ tone, popular in the latter half of the 18th century and replicated across Europe. It emerged from the experimentation of Staffordshire potters seeking a local alternative to expensive Chinese porcelain around 1750. Their innovation yielded a refined cream to white earthenware with a lustrous clear lead glaze, prized for its lightweight construction and pristine finish, making it ideal for household use.
It was not expensive to produce when compared with porcelain, but also not as robust; replacements were probably a necessity if you were using Creamware tea wares or tablewares. After its heyday in the 1780’s, Creamware remained popular well into the 20th century despite competition from other ceramic types. Today, it is valued for the pleasant off-white body and refined shapes often decorated with bright spontaneous on glaze enamel flowers.

Salt glaze

Salt glaze refers to a distinctive ceramic made by the English potters in the mid-18th century, with an ivory-white stoneware body lightly glazed with a clear covering having a texture resembling orange peel.
This forms on the white high-fired stoneware body when common salt is introduced into the kiln at its highest temperature. During firing, sodium from the salt reacts with silica present in the clay, resulting in the formation of a glassy sodium-silicate coating. This glaze can exhibit a range of slight hues, usually colourless but also found in shades of brown (due to iron oxide), blue (from cobalt oxide), or purple (from manganese oxide).

The result is a glistening white product, usually slip-cast and very lightweight & thin, yet also very tough. Forgive me for making the comparison, but it could be mistaken for a plastic! The glaze is transparent, and fits tight and thin against the body, meaning any moulded decoration is as sharp and crisp as the clay beneath. It has become a highly desireable field to collect in the English Earthenwares field.


The Chinese were fond of a red clay sourced near the city of Yi Xing, on the Yangtze River Delta. When Europeans started trading with them in the 17th century, the ‘Yixing Stonewares’ were a popular item. Naturally, the local European potters were keen to provide versions of this suddenly popular ware, and the potters of Delft, in Holland produced a ‘clone’ of the Chinese – often with the same decoration – in the latter 17th century, followed by the Eeler Brothers, Dutch silversmiths who came to London in the 1680’s and produced the first English redwares. Meissen was a latecomer, with J.J.Böttger discovering a fine high-fired red ware body now named after him in 1706. By the mid 18th century, the potters of Staffordshire and elsewhere were making Redwares.

Wedgwood c. 1820

Characterized by its rich reddish-brown hues derived from iron in the clay oxidising in the firing process, English Redware exemplified both utilitarian functionality and aesthetic charm. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, these pieces often featured simple yet elegant designs, at first copying the imported Chinese wares, but soon reflecting the prevailing tastes of the era. Commonly used for everyday household items such as teapots, jugs, and mugs, English redware found its place in both rural cottages and aristocratic homes alike. Despite its widespread popularity, redware production faced challenges from the emerging dominance of porcelain and other fine ceramics. Wedgwood brought it back to the tasteful table in the late 18th- early 19th century with a refined version they called ‘Rosso Antico’, and other firms through the Victorian era continued to make ‘redwares’ in small numbers. The original 18th-century English redware remains a testament to the skilled craftsmanship and enduring legacy of the era’s pottery traditions.


Jackfield Teapot close-up
Jackfield Teapot close-up

Jackfield is largely a generic name for a class of black/brown bodied earthenwares with a glossy ‘black’ glaze. I emphasise ‘black’ as close examination reveals it is actually made up of mostly dark brown tones, which combined with a dark-toned clay body appears black to the naked eye.

Jackfield Teapot
Jackfield Teapot c.1780

Traditionally this type of ware was said to be made at a pottery works located at Jackfield, near Coalport in Shropshire – which became the name for the type. But excavations and other evidence suggest that at the same time, such pieces were also made in Staffordshire and at other ceramic centres. The shapes and mouldings are often closely related to the other bodies detailed in this article, showing the black products were made alongside red wares , cream wares and salt glaze. Perhaps ‘black wares ‘ would be a more accurate name, but the ‘Jackfield’ name persists.

Decoration was hard, as the black surface didn’t allow for the usual decorative technique. Rare ‘cold-painted’ examples show that some were decorated in colourful oil paints, often with dedications and dates, painted onto a piece to order by a retailer, independent of the potteries.
Today, it is collected for the dramatic impact it makes in contrast to the usual white or off-white alternative wares.

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The Imari pattern

This week we are having a closer look at the highly popular Imari pattern.

The Imari pattern has a rich history steeped in Japanese culture and global trade.
Originating in the town of Arita on the island of Kyushu in the 17th century, Imari porcelain quickly gained popularity both domestically and internationally. Named after the port city of Imari, from where these exquisite wares were exported, the pattern typically features vibrant colours of underglaze cobalt blue, iron red, green, and gilt accents, often depicting asian motifs such as flower gardens, and landscapes. Initially, Imari porcelain was highly sought after by European aristocracy, sparking a craze known as “Imari-mania” in the West during the 17th and early 18th century. While China was a well-established trade route by this time, Japan was a little harder to access, and less Japanese Imari porcelain made its way to Europe. This scarcity led to it being priced at a premium, more expensive than Chinese equivalents, which were neither the same porcelain nor style.

When Japan closed it’s trading ports down, and almost all trade with foreigners was forbidden by Imperial edict in the early 18th century, the Europeans were devastated: they were Imari Addicts, and their source of Imari was suddenly taken away.

Enter the ever-opportunistic Chinese traders… mainland China quickly became Imari-experts, and mass production of Imai-style porcelain began in the first decades of the 18th century. By the mid-18th century, huge amounts of Imari ware was making its way by ship to England and the Continent. At the same time, the Europeans had also figured out the secret of making porcelain -and naturally, the first thing they replicated were the prestigeous and expensive Imari wares.
Japanese Imari is a beautiful product to collect, and is generally either the very early products, c. 1680-1720, with a large gap when production for export almost ceased, and then the re-opening of Japan in the mid-19th century. This sudden emergence of Japan in International Trade led to vast quantities of Imari porcelain once again finding its way to the West – and as the volume increased into the early 20th century, the price dropped. It’s still the same – early = expensive, later = less expensive.
Chinese products often appeal to a different collector, and are keenly sought after as well.

England rapidly became the largest producer of Imari wares in the early 19th century, where the richness of the tea wares perfectly matched the elegance of the Regency interiors. The Derby factory found a great demand for their particular take in Imari, for some reason later known as ‘witches pattern’. This classic English Imari continued to be made right through the 20th century, one of the true survivors in ceramic design.

Despite fluctuations in demand over the centuries, the allure of Imari porcelain endures, representing not only the exotic origin in Japanese ceramic artistry but also a testament to the enduring legacy of cross-cultural exchange and trade.

A pair of handsome baluster-vases & covers, painted with plump rabbits & with foo dog finials – late 17th century – at Moorabool Antiques, Geelong.
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Georgian Glass

This week we are highlighting Georgian glass .

Georgian glass, crafted during the reigns of the “Three George’s”, Kings of England from 1714 to 1820, holds a distinguished place in the history of glassmaking. Renowned for its elegance and craftsmanship, Georgian glass embodies the refinement of the era with its perfect proportions, intricate cut patterns, and quality of the body, achieved by adding lead. Skilled artisans of the time like George Ravenscroft revolutionised glass production, introducing lead oxide to create a glass of exceptional brilliance. Georgian glassware ranges from ornate goblets to intricately cut decanters, each piece a testament to the period’s aesthetic sensibility and technical innovation. Today, Georgian glass remains highly prized by collectors and enthusiasts for its timeless beauty and historical significance.

Have a browse of our Georgian Glass offerings….

To see our full range of Georgian glass view here>>>

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A Rare Pair: Meissen copies of Sèvres, by J.G. Loehnig, circa 1786

Rare Meissen beakers in the Sèvres style, by Johann Georg Loehnig, c.1775

Sometimes, things don’t turn out to be what they look like. While that’s usually a pre-cursor for disappointment when we discover something is made later, or badly damaged – our recent experience was quite the opposite…
An enquiry about some ‘Dresden Cups’ with a photo of the two beautiful beakers illustrated here came to us. The pieces looked superb quality, and Sèvres would be a likely candidate – not Dresden, or Meissen as it is more familiarly known.

Handling them for the first time showed them to be even better than the photos. They are absolutely the most stunning items, and their condition exceptional. Turning them up reveals their surprise : a pair of crossed sword marks, for Meissen.

Definitely 18th century, and Vincennes/ early Sèvres style, but Meissen marks; clearly there’s a tale to be told….

A dive into the books brought up the answer: a rare moment in the world of Meissen, when it no longer led the way in porcelain taste in Europe, but followed the French. Once we had established the period, we were able to attribute the artist: Johann George Loehnig (1743 – 1806).

His work is rare. He was listed as one of the 1st-class artists in Meissen between 1764 and 1770. In 1786 he was still listed as a “…figure painter of the most exquisite class” in the manufactory’s list of painters. The artwork source for the lush and expressive putti were mostly provided by Johann Eleazar Zeissig (1737 – 1806), called Schenau, who in turn was inspired by François Boucher (1703 – 1770).”

Sèvres cherubs, 1758-9

Meissen cherubs, c. 1770

Meissen c. 1770

Meissen c. 1770

Meissen, the pioneering porcelain manufacturer in Europe, had led the field in discovering how to manufacture porcelain, inventing and defining the European taste for porcelain right from their first creations in the first decade of the 18th century. By the 1770’s, they had a large number of competitors, and lost their lead as innovators to other makers. There are several shapes ‘borrowed’ from France, and this cup shows the strong demand for the ‘French’ taste, decorated in a design that first appeared in Vincennes & Sèvres products in the 1750’s. While the Sèvres examples were based on the paintings and prints of Boucher, it has been suggested that the designs for the Meissen examples 25 years later came from the works by Schenau (Johann Eleazar Zeissig), Director of the Royal Academy of Arts in Dresden – who was himself directly influenced by the works of Boucher.

Very few examples are to be found of this direct copying, and appear to be limited to a few very exclusive tea sets – and chocolate, as seen here – made for the most wealthy of customers.

This cup, along with its companion, is said to have come to Australia in the 19th century, to be passed down several generations in Geelong, Victoria, before it was brought into our premises in Geelong in 2024.

Munich Museum tray – illustrated in ‘Meissen Porcelain of the 18th century’ by Hermann Jedding

There is a tea-tray in the Munich Museum which is so exactly related to this cup, we speculate it may be the original for a split-up setting – perhaps a teapot, a coffee/chocolate pot, a sugar bowl, and two cups & saucers sat on this as a dejeuner set. The main scene is Venus and attendant cherubs amongst clouts, while the small panels in the border feature trophies, with the borders around each being the exact leaf & flower design seen on this cup. There is an identical dentil border to the rim.

Above is a detail from Hermann Jedding ‘Meissen Porcelain of the 18th century’ p 104, pl. 179, showing a tray with the exact same figures, ground and fine gilt borders, described as being painted by Johann Georg Loehnig, who “…preferred preferred vessels in royal blue… which he painted with putti, lovers or portraits, often using the stippled dot technique”.  He describes the borders: “etched gold tendrils and flowers… the refined delicacy of French taste was also sought in Meissen”.

The tray illustrated is in the Munich Bayerisches Nationalmuseum , dated 1770.

Compare to the border of these beakers – it’s the same, and assumed to therefore be from the same unique commission, circa 1770. This was not a ‘pattern’ of the firm, and each commission would be different in detail, such as the gilt borders. The cherubs and their clouds appear identical in concept – although no colour photograph of the tray could be found.

A tray ‘manner of’ Loehnig sold at Christies, 2008:

Lempertz example of a complete service:

The V&A has a single example of his work:

Two rare Meissen chocolate cups, of tall beaker form, superbly painted by Johann Georg Loehnig with two panels of cherubs in clouds, in his distinct ‘stipple’ technique, imitating Vincennes/Sèvres products of the mid-18th century, set within ornate leaf & flowers raised & tooled gold frames, the foot with a solid gold band.

Crossed swords mark in underglaze blue to each, also indistinct underglaze ground-painter’s mark, pressnumer ‘.9′ (or 6’) in the foot rim.

Circa 1770

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Mother’s Day Gift ideas-

A small selection of Mother’s Day gift ideas for this up coming special day on 12th May 2024- still plenty of time to post !

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Asian Arts – Chinese & South-East Asian Ceramics

Welcome to our Asian Special.

We’re actually in Asia for this one! Paul & Glenys, your proprietors at Moorabool Antiques, are on a ‘China Expedition’ – visiting the sights & enjoying the unique culture that is China…..

Of course, this is not a ‘buying’ trip: China prohibits the export of anything that could be considered Antique. Rather, it is a fact-finding visit: exploring some of the regions where the Chinese items we are familiar with came from, and spending some time in the numerous Museums & Galleries and their fine collections of Chinese Art & Antiques…..

On our return, we will have a wealth of knowledge to draw on when cataloguing the incredible items from Asia which Australians are well known to have collected over the past few hundred years……

This stock release includes several such local collections of interesting Asian ceramics, including some over 1,000 years old.


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Beautiful Bow!

Beautiful Bow Porcelain

Moorabool has a nice collection of Fresh Bow Porcelain to share…….

Bow Porcelain figure & garden urn, 1750's & 1765
Bow Porcelain figure & garden urn, 1750’s & 1765

Bow Porcelain has a keen following among collectors, valued for its cheerful, bright colours and quirky modelling. 

A selection of Beautiful Bow, with bright Chinese-style flower decoration, 1750’s

Founded in the mid 1740’s by Thomas Frye, it produced a variety of wares in direct competition to the fellow-fledgling factory in the region, Chelsea. While Chelsea produced high-end luxury ceramics, Bow was happy to produce less expensive wares – and did so on a large scale, becoming the largest manufacturer of the period in England. 

Like Chelsea, it was located within the bounds of present-day London – although in the mid-18th century, both places were still smaller hamlets on the Thames River, yet to be enveloped by the expanding metropolis.

Bow Porcelain from the 1750’s, showing the influence of Meissen in the ‘Fisherfolk’ figures, and Asian imports in the plate & coffee cans – all very much in fashion in the 1750’s.

The products of these early factories were a direct response to the red-hot London market for Asian Porcelain imports – so it’s hardly surprising that the pieces are often imitations of Chinese & Japanese designs.

Many items are copies of Chelsea forms, and Chelsea in turn copied the expensive imports from Meissen. We have several pieces in stock that follow this fascinating storyline…… 

  • Bow (left) and Meissen (right) figure of 'Autumn'

By the 1770’s, the Bow style was overshadowed by multiple other porcelain manufacturers such as Worcester and Derby. Chelsea also found itself in trouble, and had their ‘strategic merge’ with William Duesbury’s Derby factory in 1770, which led to their closure a few years later. The same fate befell Bow, with the owner recorded as bankrupt in 1763, and the sale of moulds & equipment to Duesbury of Derby in 1776.

Prunus ‘Sprigging’, directly copying Chinese imports, 1750’s

Browse the latest uploaded Bow Porcelain collection below, or click the button to see all Bow Porcelain in stock.

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Ellen Ross, artist, with Dickens & Australian High Court connections….

Ellen Ross / Ellen Ross - Mallam - Artist

A fascinating piece of English porcelain has come to Moorabool, which if it wasn’t for the original 1876 exhibition label on the back, would just be an ‘interesting amateur-decorated decorative plate’. However, the name, date & place allows us to extract a story from this piece, which includes a close association with Charles Dickens, and a High Court Judge in Australia!

The porcelain is an anonymous blank, probably of Staffordshire manufacture. Onto it is painted an ‘Aesthetic Movement’ portrait, as was popular in the mid-late Victorian era. Such a piece is not unusual in the Antique World, as it was a favourite occupation for young ladies to learn to paint on porcelain. Watercolour painting was a standard part of any young ladies education, and it is noted that the artist of this piece, Ellen Ross, was a fine watercolorist. A step up from watercolour was painting onto porcelain. For this, studios ran classes, and for the more wealthy, a painting instructor would bring the materials to the students, take away their work to be fired, and bring back the results.

The important part of this plate is the paper label on the back. While it is signed with an elaborate monogram, there’s no record of this in the literature; the paper label, however, is the vital clue as it declares her name ‘Ellen Ross’.

Ellen Ross / Mallam monogram mark
Ellen Ross / Mallam’s monogram mark ‘ER’. This mark is not recorded anywhere else in the literature – and other pieces by her sighted are signed ‘Ellen Mallam’ in full. She was married in 1868, and this piece was made 1876, or slightly earlier, 1874-5…. several years after marriage. If you look at the top of the ‘R’ in the monogram, it could be interpreted as an ‘M’ – probably intentional.
Howell & James ‘Art Pottery Exhibition’ label, dated 1876, with Ellen Ross filled in as painter of exhibit no.3. The partially lost text next to it may have been a title – or could it be an update on her name – the second word looks distinctly like ‘Mallam’, her married name…

Ellen Ross is not noted as an artist or decorator – but we have the entry in Howell & James’s exhibition catalogues, where she is recorded as ‘Mrs Mallam (Ellen Ross)’. Clearly she was married around this time, and with the dates, place & two names it is possible to pinpoint her;
Ellen Mary Anne Hyde Ross, born in St Pancras in 1837 (or 42, or 43 in other online records!?), she married solicitor Dalton Robert Mallam in 1868 in Kensington, London. They had 6 children.

Charles Dickens, miniature at the Dickens Museum, London, painted by Janet Ross (Barrow), aged 18
Charles Dickens, miniature at the Dickens Museum, London, painted by Janet Ross (Barrow), when aged 18, and not yet famous.

Ellen Mallam came from an interesting family; they were well-off, and close to the Dickens family. Their father was a solicitor & well connected.
Ellen’s older sister Janet showed great promise as a miniature artist, and went on to become a miniaturist of note. Her work is held in major collections, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum. She married into the Dickens family, and was his aunt. Fascinatinly, one of her early works is an image regarded as the earliest depiction of Charles Dickens, now in the Charles Dickens Museum, London. In return, Dickens may have immortalised her in his book ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ as ‘Miss La Creevy’, a ‘miniature painter’….

As a young lady, part of Janet’s education would have included drawing & painting. For this, a ‘painting master’ would have been called on. His lessons would have included watercolour painting – and the skill of both Ellen and Janet would have led to their advancement to lessons in the art & technique of miniature painting.

We can imagine the young Ellen growing up with older sister Janet, and seeing her success as a miniature artist; perhaps they had the same painting master? Or did her older sister teach her? Certainly, there is a strong likeness to the technique of miniature painting in Ellen’s works, namely the use of pure strokes of colour in a series of lines.

That it was considered a prestigious occupation worthy of a Lady is shown in the list of the artists who presented pieces for the annual China Painting Exhibition held at the Regent Street store of Howell & James, Jewellers with premises on Regent Street and highly regarded dealers in luxury. Lady Willoughby, Viscountess Hood (neé Havell), the Countess of Warwick, and Colonel Hope Crealock of South Africa’s ‘Zulu War’ fame were all painters who exhibited. Indeed, Lady Augusta Cadogan, daughter of 3rd Earl Cadogan & Aunt of Queen Victoria was both a patron, and exhibited works by her own hand in 1877 and 1878.

In fact, the gentle art of China Painting was worth of the attention of Queen Victoria herself:

Ellen Mallam ne. Ross presented to Queen Victoria 1878
Ellen Mallam ne. Ross presented to Queen Victoria 1878

She also appears in the Yorkshire Industrial Exhibition, held in York 1879.

The Australian Connection

We’re always looking for links to ‘down-under’, which adds a local context to a piece. This work unexpectedly came up with one: a son of Ellen & Dalton Mallam,
Ross Ibbotson Dalton Mallam, was born in 1878. Like his father, he entered the legal profession, moved to Adelaide Australia in 1902, and ended up a Supreme Court Judge (1928-33) in the Northern Territory, before ill-health led to him relocating to Melbourne. You can read more about him on the NT Supreme Court’s website >

It’s been an interesting study, to discover the connections and stories circling around this portrait plate. Ellen Ross / Mallam was certainly born into an interesting place and time, being so familiar with the Dickens family, and receiving high praise for her artistic skills from none other than Queen Victoria……. There may be other pieces from Ellen’s early stages still to be discovered, signed with the monogram ‘ER’ as seen here – and definitely more with her full married name, Ellen Mallam. Let us know if you have any!

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Some Stunning Sterling Silver

Kings Pattern Sterling Silver setting for 12, 1820's and 1880-20653

Sterling Silver is a very desirable Antique these days: it’s the allure of a precious metal that glistens beautifully, formed into beautiful shapes by the hand of a gifted craftsman – but is also an incredible asset that has increased in value to dizzying heights over the past decade.

So it’s a beautiful display item, often usable, and something that will retain a high dollar-value into the future.
That’s worth collecting!

Sterling Silver at Moorabool Antiques, Geelong
Some ‘usable’ Sterling Silver at Moorabool Antiques, Geelong

What is ‘Sterling Silver’?

‘Sterling’ Silver is a standard enforced in Britain, with severe consequences for any fraudulent activity.
The requirement is the silver content of 92.5% is achieved – the ‘Sterling Standard’, applying originally to currency and bullion. The other 7.5% of metal content actually has a purpose: solid silver is very soft and unsuitable for items that will be used, such as cutlery: the extra metal provides some strength without affecting the appearance of the silver.
Items are assessed by a series of government appointed ‘Assay Offices’, which also recorded the year the item was assessed.

Reading Sterling Silver Hallmarks

This example has very clear marks as they were struck into the silver very deeply.
From top to bottom:
‘WE’ Maker’s Mark – for William Eaton
(0) Leopard’s Head – the mark of the Assay Office in London
# Striding Lion – the British Hallmark indicating it is ‘Sterling Standard’, ie. 92.5% Silver Content
-J- Gothic capital ‘J’ – the date letter for London Assay Office in 1844
ø Head facing left – Young profile of Queen Victoria, left-facing in contrast with previous monarch, which was William IV & faced right.

This example shows the Irish variant of the ‘Sterling’ mark:
‘JS’ – for John Smyth, Dublin
ø Head facing left – Young profile of Queen Victoria
# Seated ‘Hibernia’ figure, representing Ireland, standing in for the striding lion used in the other Assay Offices in Britain
^ Crowned Harp – indicating the Dublin Assay Office
‘m’ Dublin year mark for 1857

Other Solid Silver standards

German .800 silver centerpiece, baroque Four Seasons embossed, c. 1880-12446

Elsewhere, silver of the same standard is also made. American and Australian silver conforms to the 92.5% standard, often using the word ‘Sterling’ for a mark, but without any assay office to mark it. On the Continent, silver content varies a lot, but is often handily marked with the parts of silver out of 1,000: ie. ‘.900’ is 900/1000, or 90%, close to Sterling standard, while items that are going to be used a lot are often .800 silver, 80%, making them hardier.

Caring for your Silver

The one thing about silver is… it inevitably goes black. One way to guard against this is to shut it away in an airtight storage – but then you can’t enjoy it.
Casual usage actually helps keep an item clean, as when you use it and then gently wipe it dry, any traces of black is removed, and your item remains lovely.
However, there always comes a time when you will need to clean your silver. The key is to go gently – while some methods and available cleaners do a fast, brilliant job, this is because the strip off a layer of the surface to reveal the shiny metal beneath. Do this too often, and you will seriously wear away the value of your piece!

For many decades, Moorabool has used & stocked the ‘gentle’ silver cleaner, used by silver collectors and dealers all over the world. This is Hagerty’s, see our stock by clicking the button below.

Our Latest Silver items

English, Irish & Scottish Sterling

Australian Silver

American Silver

Asian Silver

Continental & Other Silver

Usable Silver

(This link includes Old Sheffield Plate, Electroplate, and other objects that are less than Sterling standard but have a silver appearance)

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Rarity in Miniature: micro-carved Ivory Rococo scene, c.1795

Micro-carved ivory plaque,

Micro-carving describes the feat of creating miniature artworks, with the favourite material being ivory due to its compact nature which carves easily and displays well. Set against the burgundy silk, this example is a splendid example of the technique.

Stephany and Dresch attributed micro carved ivory plaque, circa 1795, Moorabool Antiques Geelong
Stephany and Dresch attributed micro carved ivory plaque, circa 1795, Moorabool Antiques Geelong

The technique is very reminiscent of the contrasting ceramic reliefs made famous by Wedgwood’s Jasperwares, and of the carved shell cameos with similar contrast. However, this ivory carving was magnitudes  harder to achieve; the carving is independent of any support until it is attached to the backing. This piece consists of small number of pieces mounted together, with a separate roundel border. In order to lighten the appearance of the urn and its plinth, they have cut out straight lines, with several together only measuring a millimetre – some features such as the stems of the roses in the border garland are the thickness of a hair!

Stephany and Dresch attributed micro carved ivory plaque, circa 1795, Moorabool Antiques Geelong
Stephany and Dresch (attributed) micro-carved ivory plaque, circa 1795.

Some of the best of the Georgian era were Continental emigrés, G Stephany and J Dresch. They established themselves in Bath and London, catering for the wealthy clients who were after miniature novelties for their snuffbox collections, or pieces of jewellery, or framed works suitable for a cabinet or wall.

Stephany and Dresch attributed micro carved ivory plaque, circa 1795, Moorabool Antiques Geelong
Stephany and Dresch attributed micro carved ivory plaque, circa 1795, Moorabool Antiques Geelong

They promoted themselves as  ‘…the most eminent sculptors in ivory in Europe who will execute any design for Rings, Bracelets, Lockets, or for Cabinet pieces’. Their work was ‘so fine that a glass is necessary to discover its beauties’. They exhibited a number of times at the Royal Academy, and were presented with a Royal Warrant by George III, titled ‘Sculptors in Miniature on Ivory to their Majesties’. The Royal Collection still has three pieces, portrait profiles of George III, Queen Charlotte, and the Princess Royal, Charlotte.

This superb micro-carved plaque is quite possibly by this premium English firm, or a Continental carver of similar talent.

An example in the Bath Museum:

'Grand Tour' fan, Views of Rome, Italian c.1785
‘Grand Tour’ fan, Views of Rome, Italian c.1785
micro carved ivory Grand Tour fan, Italian c.1785 at Moorabool Antiques, Geelong, Australia

A sensational example of micro-carved ivory can be seen on this Neapolitan ‘Grand Tour’ fan of the 1780’s. It depicts a French-style Rococo ‘folly’, and shows great skill in keeping the sticks strong enough to still stand up to usage.

See this item here >>