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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
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