Collecting flow blue china
Collector's encyclopedia of flow blue china. Second series
Mary Frank Gaston.
Paducah, KY : Collector's Books, c1994.
This second encyclopedia features over 475 full-color photos of pieces not pictured in the first book. A great companion volume, this informative text provides an extensive marks identification section as well as historical information about the manufacturers and 2000 values.
Collecting Carlton Ware : a collectors handbook
David Serpell.
London : Francis Joseph, c2004.
- Includes essential tips and advice on collecting- Teaches how to date and identify pieces- Over 280 color photos include pattern number and current pricing
Spode's willow pattern : and other designs after the Chinese
Robert Copeland.
London : Studio Vista, c1999.
"Staffordshire potter Josiah Spode made the Willow-pattern and other Chinese-inspired designs a trademark of his company. From the archives of the Spode company and other unpublished sources, the author gives a detailed account on the history, development of this tradition, manufacturing process with a studied selection of illustrations and descriptions of various motifs from Spode and other potteries. The glossary, terminology, and appendices further augment this study that will meet the demands of collectors and connoisseurs."--"Kerameiki Techniques. "Of interest to collectors...expanded in scope to include many polychrome designs, as well as more information on the tea trade."--"Ceramics Monthly.

Dishes commonly found in Victorian homes have become the expensive collectibles of today. Some of the most collectible pieces are “flow blue” ceramic pottery made 100+ years ago. Enthusiasts scour antique stores and ebay to find an elusive piece. All agree that collecting flow blue is an obsession!

What’s the “flow” in flow blue? When the cobalt blue transfer bleeds onto undecorated china in the firing process, the resulting piece is blurred or “flowed.” It is not flawed however—just asked those who love the look!

England’s famous potteries were the first to produce flow blue and they dominated the market for a century. As many as 1500 patterns were produced, with colors varying from a faint light blue halo to deep cobalt blue. These wares were shipped all over the world. 

Flow Blue patterns
through the ages

Early Victorian: 1825-1850: Oriental patterns featuring Chinese scenes were popular. Examples are Canton and Chapoo

Middle Victorian: 1850-1880: Floral patterns such as Florida and Alaska were big sellers

Late Victorian: 1880 – 1910: Abstract designs and art nouveau style were reflected in patterns like Conway and Delemere, but the floral patterns remained popular as well

Flow Blue Patterns

Today’s collectors look for a variety of things in their quest for flow blue. Some want rare pieces in perfect condition. Others go after a specific pattern, regardless of  condition. Still others collect only one shape such as large platters or paneled teapots. As with any other antique, scarcity and condition dictates price.
The universal appeal of flow blue is reflected in the fervor in which collectors vie for it. Its the most popular of the transfer ware collectibles and as such exceeds the prices of other types of pottery. The hunt for that special piece is part of the fun and challenge of collecting.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff