English porcelain dating
Japanese porcelain makers in the 19th century used cobalt that turned the blues in its porcelain much darker.
At the same time in China, the shade of blue was typically lighter.
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"It is possible by knowing the specific tones of blue to associate an object with both a culture, manufacturing center, and period of time with great accuracy," Lark says.
"This involves honing your visual memory." He adds that the best way to develop this skill is to memorize the particular features on museum pieces and to study small pieces that you can buy at affordable prices.
"This size dish was popular in this period, and when you see one there's a good chance it's from Holland, or maybe Japan, at the same time." The shape of a piece can also peg it to a particular time in history.
Read the Blues for Clues The exact color blue on the porcelain is another important clue about where it came from and when it was made. The kind and quantity of impurities in cobalt varies from mine to mine and produces different shades of blue when fired.
We asked that question of Lark Mason, an expert in Asian art at igavel.com, and his answer was an unequivocal "Yes." "I do this all the time," Lark says.
"I look across a room and if I see a shape that's the wrong shape for what it's purported to be, I'll get closer and look at the design, and then flip it over and look at the clay.
The blue in English ceramics made in the Worcester factory in England during the mid-18th century is usually a rich midnight blue.
Whereas other English porcelain factories of that era did not have access to the same cobalt and their blues are often less dramatic, Lark notes.