White Felspathic Stoneware
White felspathic English stonewares are characterized by fine-grained white stoneware paste. The stoneware bodies of these vessels are almost translucent and characterized by crisp molded detail. Molded motifs are often neo-classical in nature, including acanthus leaves, swags and classical figures such as robed women and putti. These wares are often called “Castleford” after one of the manufacturers commonly associated with them.
White felspathic stoneware was developed between 1780 (Lewis 1999:174) and 1785 (Poole 1995:88). A number of Staffordshire and Yorkshire potteries, including Wedgwood (1759- ), John Turner (c. 1762-1806), Herculaneum (c. 1793-1841), Castleford (c. 1790-1820), Chetham and Woolley (1796-1810) and Spode (c. 1784-1833), manufactured white felspathic stoneware (Lewis 1999:174). These wares continued to be made until around the end of the first decade of the 19th century (Poole 1995:88), although some scholars date the decline in the popularity of felspathic stonewares around 1815 (Roussel 1982; Edwards and Hampson 1998).
White-bodied, fine-grained stoneware containing a high feldspar content that made the vessels almost translucent. Vessels were press molded, sometimes with additional applied relief (sprig molded) designs. The vessels are generally quite thin-walled.
Some felspathic stonewares were left unglazed, while others contain a light gloss of glazing known as smear glaze. Smear glazes were formed when salt applied to the inside of the saggars (containers used to hold vessels being fired) vaporized during firing (Hildyard 2005:142). The smear glaze helped prevent staining of the ceramic bodies, while also preserving the crispness and clarity of the molded designs. Sometimes vessel interiors were lead glazed (Roussel 1982:30).
White felspathic stonewares were often further decorated with enameled painting. Blue or green enameled bands were often used to further define panels or galleries of hollow vessels. Other colors, such as yellow, green and puce were sometimes used to highlight molded motifs. Some vessels contain small painted landscapes in unmolded areas.
White felspathic stonewares appear in hollow forms, including teapots, jugs, coffeepots, mugs, sugar boxes, vases and under-trays for teapots. Vessel shapes often mirror forms made in silver (Hildyard 2005:142).