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crockery terms


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OK, here goes and I hope someone will tell me what's what.

grès is earthenware as we know it, ie très rustique

porcelaine is porcelain or bone china

faïence is, I suppose bog standard crockery or china or whatever you call it.  I mean not fine bone china or porcelain but just plain old crock!  Or is it what we call ironstone?

I bet RH knows the difference.  I sure as hell don't but would love to know the nuances in meaning.

I was reading an extract from a children's book where one of the children broke a faïnce plate and it was thought to be very naughty because it was her aunt's treasured possession.

Over and above the curiosity, it might just help with my next leboncoin purchase![:D]

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Broadly speaking Faience is tin glazed pottery, if I remember rightly porcelain is a finer body with the addition of kaolin.

Faience was also known as Delft, obviously there is Delft in Holland but also in the Uk too. There is a bit here about Ironstone : http://www.thepotteries.org/features/ironstone.htm

Quimper pottery is decorated by hand before the item is glazed, therefore the painters have to be accurate, one slip of the brush and the colour soaks in and cannot be erased. Feequently the glazes look totally different to the finished colour when they are being applied.

It used to take several yearsas an apprentice to qualify as a painter but these days they are recruited from artschool.

You should click on my link and vote in the competition, it will be interesting to see if any of the designs are put into production, these days designs have to be as simple as possible to be commercially viable, some of the older pieces have very complicated decors that would have taken many painstaking hours to produce

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Thank you, both.....great links.

I'm not a collector or a connoiseur (connoiseuse?), just buying some bits and pieces for the house.  I like to buy French because, after all, that's why I came to live here, just to steep myself in the language and culture.

I am quite pleased that I have more or less guessed the differences as per Clair's link.

As many pieces I have looked at are marked "Saraguemines", I googled that and have been very entertained and informed. 

The bits that I am negotiating to buy are from the "Digoin" period, so I am trying to pin down the exact time when these would have been manufactured.  At the rate of research, I shall soon be an "expert", never fear![:P][:D]

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Saraguemines is made by a method known as Petit Feu, (Quimper is made by the method known as Grand Feu). It's typically transfer decorated

The most recent issue of the Quimper Club Journal featured a set of plates (there are 11) which belong to a member and which feature a colorful border,  the music and a few lines from French songs such as Au Clair de la Lune and Frere Jaques. (if you want to email me I can send you some pics)

They also made many plates in the style known as Les Faiences Parlantes - motto plates basically.

A good book which describes the different methods and gives a examples of Grand Feu and Petit Feu  is 'French Faience, Fantaisie et Populaire of the 19th and 20th centuries by Millicent Mali ISBN 0-9603824-2-9. I can't locate my copy at present otherwise I could help more.

Its available at Amazon or from www.Brittanybyways.com  in France (Use the contact button to enquire)

These may be helpful : http://www.infofaience.com/en/sarreguemines-hist 



It looks as if pieces marked Digoin are 1919 to 1982


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Hey, RH, I saw some of those plates with the music and the rondes on ebay!

Excuse my lazy spelling of Sarreguemines (didn't bother checking [:(]). 

As for Digoin, yes, that sounds right.  Also I have been told that the pieces do not have crazing or cracks so are likely to be relatively modern.

Please don't get me on this collecting lark will you?  Neither the bank balance nor the modest sized rooms in this house will accomodate such a hobby.

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Sarreguemines is pretty plentiful, it shouldn't break the bank, in any case my tip is to think of a theme (a colour, a topic, a series) and stick to it - unfortunately my 'theme' was if it had Quimper written on it, I considered it...hence several hundred pieces in the loft ! 

Crazing and cracking have a lot to do with treatment, condition isn't always an indicator, the more you see , touch and feel, the better you'll be able to guage...

Most importantly, enjoy it !

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  • 3 months later...

RH, I thought you might be interested to know that I bought a very beautiful set of crockery today which is Porcelaine du Berry.

Not sure what year or anything but they look old but hardly used.  I managed to squint at the lable and compared it with other Berry porcelain marks.  Mine says "haute porcelaine", so I presumed, high quality and has a crown plus "Compagnie Nationale de Porcelaine"; also a shield with the letters C and P, to stand for Compagnie Nationale, I suppose.

There are in excess of 70 pieces and I am looking forward to using them!


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