English Porcelain Factories - Bow

In 1744 a patent was taken out by Thomas Frye and a partner for a method of making porcelain using a clay imported from America. Four years later, Frye alone took out another patent in which bone-ash was included as a further ingredient. It is known that a man named George Arnold financed the company until his death in 1751, but little is certain yet about the type of ware produced before that date. Visual identification can be confirmed with reasonable certainty; Bow was the first factory to incorporate bone-ash in the paste used, and its presence can be proved by simple chemical analysis. In 1753 the firm opened a warehouse in Cornhill, in the City of London, and employed an ex-navy man, John Bowcock, as clerk; some of Bowcock's account books and papers have been preserved, although others have since been lost, and they add a little to the meagre history known at present.

Bow made many figures, but only rarely do they approach the standards of modelling and painting of Chelsea. Contemporary accounts reveal that they concentrated on tableware, and much of this, decorated in underglaze blue, has survived. Many of the earlier pieces were sold uncoloured, and those that were painted often show decoration in the current Chinese and Japanese styles.

Many of the figures are after Dresden models, but a number are original; mugs were a popular production and on many of them the handle terminates in the shape of a heart where it is joined to the body. The factory closed in 1776 after one of the later owners had died and the other had gone bankrupt, and like Chelsea it was bought by Duesbury of Derby. Many of the figures can be recognized by the use of a vivid purple-red colour used often to outline the scrolling on bases, and by an opaque blue enamel used for clothing, etc. The edges of plates and other pieces sometimes show small areas of brown staining where the glaze is thin or absent. There was no definite mark used on the factory's wares, but a number of different ones were used by painters. Most of the pieces are unmarked.



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