An interesting aspect of 18th century porcelain collecting is that the failure of a factory to make real commercial success in its day - and ultimately the early demise of production - leads to porcelain which is often the prized pieces within a collection today. This rule applies to the porcelain of the doomed Vauxhall factory near Lambeth in London which produced Vauxhall porcelain.
Vauxhall porcelain has an intriguing story. Nicolas Crisp was a jeweller and entrepreneur who joined forces with Delft pottery owner John Sanders to produce porcelain around the date of 1752. The partnership developed a soapstone body similar to that of Worcester and, hoping for the success seen by other London porcelain makers, began producing blue and white tea wares painted with delft like designs. Timing is crucial to the success of any business and by the time the factory began making tea wares the market was already dominated by Worcester, Bow and other factories, and often Vauxhall’s copies of Chinese wares cost more to produce than the imports brought in on the tea clippers. Vauxhall moved into figure making, however the factories modeller John Bacon rarely made pieces which could compete with the established factories. Vauxhall produced elaborate Rococo forms with some exceptionally beautiful enamelling work however the factory never quite gained the proficiency of the products made at Chelsea - with whom the factory was in competition with. Despite developing innovations such as polychrome printing (the use of several shades of transfer print on a piece) the Vauxhall porcelain factory closed its doors around 1763 with Nicholas Crisp being declared bankrupt. The short life of the factory limits the number of pieces on the market today and this is one of the main reasons why Vauxhall wares sold at auction can command some of the highest prices.
Vauxhall porcelain has a greenish hue as well as a green translucency when held up to a strong light due to its soaprock formula porcelain body. For a long time Vauxhall porcelain was attributed to William Ball of Liverpool until the excavations of the London factory site in 1988. No standard marks where used by Vauxhall however study of the patterns can help in attribution as well as some of the striking shapes employed. A dominant characteristic of Vauxhall is the so called ‘sticky blue’ glaze which is a thick bright blue colour with slight iridescence that can distinguish a piece from other 18th century.
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