Porcelain: The Perfect Anniversary Gift...
Who is the last person you brought out the fine china for? Was it a special person? A special occasion? What do you know about your fine china? That it’s a pretty set of plates you registered for when you got married because your mom told you to?
Fine china, in simplest terms, is a type of porcelain. China and porcelain are often used synonymously, but china is softer – made of a softer paste that can be cut with a file, unlike harder porcelain. Another difference is that porcelain is translucent, while china is opaque. All porcelain originates from China, which is how china it got its name. Traced back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), it wasn’t long before trade routes were established to spread the mysterious, glassy treasures to other countries - beginning with the Far East and Europe.
Unlike previous, earthier ceramics of the time, porcelain stood in a league of its own – made with fine white clay from decomposed granite, which gave it its beautiful translucency. Of course, given its great demand, European attempted to replicate it. Finally, in 1709, German chemist, Johan Friedrich Böttger, came up with a formula to make porcelain - Kaolin. Sculptures went from producing china plates to carving intricate figurines.
My mom used to collect Limoges – the world-renowned porcelain figurines that come from the city in west central France – Limoges. Today the most popular Limoges porcelain items are trinket boxes – resembling 17th century snuffboxes.
Benjamin Franklin wanted to produce porcelain in the States as another step toward independence from England. The first North American piece of porcelain recorded was a small teacup made by Andrew Duché in Savannah, Georgia.
Check out this video of Matthew Blakely of Lode, Cambridgeshire sculpting a bowl from beginning to end.
Pictured above is a English Staffordshire porcelain grouping, available from R. Jorgensen Antiques. If you scroll through our inventory of porcelain and china, you’ll find a wide selection of tableware china and other decorative figures that would make great wedding or anniversary gifts. If (when) you fall in love with one for yourself, add it to your collection and make it a family heirloom that your grandkids can look forward to inheriting. Happy Latiquing!