Author Topic: (Sowerby) blanc-de-lait versus white vitro-porcelain.  (Read 121 times)

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Offline Paul S.

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(Sowerby) blanc-de-lait versus white vitro-porcelain.
« on: April 18, 2014, 12:53:00 PM »
If the Mods want this elsewhere, it can be moved to wherever is the best place.        I'll reply later to Fred's request for Archive pix re the Sowerby pieces.

Believe we've discussed the matter of the misuse of the Sowerby trade name 'blanc de lait' before, but just thought it worth clarifying again, since the term has been wrongly associated - in the literature - with plain white vitro-porcelain.
The pieces shown by Roy are white vitro-porcelain, and hand-decorated with enameled colours, whereas blanc-de-lait was decorated with opaque staining, and is a true opalescent glass.

Lattimore (1979) uses the term 'blanc-de-lait' correctly and shows one of the swan decorated spill vases.     Like Raymond Slack, he recites the well known story of the Newcastle tradesman returning from Paris with several pieces of this novelty opalescent glass only to be told it had originated in Gateshead, and as such he had been 'carrying coals to Newcastle'.
Lattimore adds the word 'opaline' to his description - which is probably incorrect  -  he may have meant to say opalescent.
He also shows some opaque white vitro-porcelain, decorated with enameled colours.

Sheilagh Murray (1982) uses the name when referring to hand painted plain white vitro-porcelain, although on the same page she shows a genuine piece of opaque coloured stained blanc-de-lait, and calls it 'early opal bowl hand painted in ochre'.

Simon Cottle (1986) follows Murray precisely in using the term to describe white vitro-porcelain decorated with enameled colours - but a little later in his catalogue shows stunning pieces of blanc-de-lait which he describes simply as "opalescent press-moulded glass with amber staining".

Finally, we get to Raymond Slack (1987) who describes correctly both blanc-de-lait and hand-enameled white vitro-porcelain.
The value of Slack's book is in the thoroughness of his research........... fortunately he provides factory evidence to
support separate descriptions leaving us in no doubt as to which is which.
Extracts from both Sowerby's own advertisements and the Pottery Gazette are quoted.
With hindsight, it was perhaps unfortunate that the factory chose to use the word 'opal' to describe their very first white vitro-porcelain.
sorry if this is all boring, but just thought it worth repeating to help avoid confusion.*:)


Offline Ivo

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Re: blanc-de-lait versus white vitro-porcelain.
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2014, 02:11:51 PM »
Interesting stuff - but the world of white glass may be a bit larger. It starts with venetian lattimo, aka milk glass. First made with bone ash which gives an opal translucence, later with tin oxide which produces a much harder opaque white. From there, all manufacturers used their own variations, and attached their own trade marks to it. There are hundreds of different recipes. I think it is safest to use factory terms for factory glass only . Opal, opaline and opalescent are generic glass terms and can be applied to factory glass, just like milk glass or opaque white glass.. But factory specific terminology is tricky. If blanc-de-lait is a sowerby fancy term, it applies to sowerby glass only. And vitro porcelain should only be used for products sold as such.
I still am taken aback whe n i see people describing a glass as kingfisher or pewter. ....
Ivo
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Offline Paul S.

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Re: blanc-de-lait versus white vitro-porcelain.
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2014, 04:00:51 PM »
thanks Ivo  -  and I do acknowledge that your overall knowledge of these opaque glass variations is far greater than mine :)
On this occasion I was referring only to the apparent quite common misuse of Sowerby's own trade name 'blanc-de-lait', which the factory quite specifically applied to their opalescent material only.
For reasons I'm not aware of, the white opaque (vitro-porcelain) pieces (from Sowerby) hand-decorated with coloured enamels seem often to be called blanc-de-lait  -  perhaps due to the errors in some of the books I've mentioned.

I know we've been down that road before of endless discussions regarding opal, opalescent, opaline etc., and you're right that we should be cautious when using these descriptions.           Collectors are much to blame for confusion  -  often describing colours and textures in an all too subjective manner - and forget that not everyone interprets in the same way.
It's times like this I'm glad that in the main I don't collect coloured glass ;D

thanks again.


Offline Ivo

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Re: blanc-de-lait versus white vitro-porcelain.
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2014, 04:37:19 PM »
We seem to agree completely - again!
Ivo
► BLUE HENRY ◄
 New Book: The Almost Forgotten Story of the Blue Glass Sputum Flask

all texts and pictures (c) Ivo Haanstra.


Offline KevinH

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Re: (Sowerby) blanc-de-lait versus white vitro-porcelain.
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2014, 01:29:31 AM »
Paul, I have added "(Sowerby)" to the start of the thread title to help clarify matters.

Personally I am happy that the thread can remain in the "British & Irish" forum as the discussion is, as you say, about the (mis)use of the Sowerby trade name.
KevinH


 

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