Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Clever French Potters


They Imitate the China of All the More Famous Makers.

Entering a china shop recently, I asked the dealer the price of a small and very beautiful piece of Delft which had attracted my eyes for weeks whenever I happened to pass the window. Knowing it must be very expensive, I had so far resisted the temptation. Much to my surprise, the dealer named a very moderate price.

"It is not Holland Delft, you know," he said. "The same piece in Holland Delft would cost twice that at least."

"Well, what is it then if not Holland Delft?' I asked. "To be Delft it must be made in the Holland potteries."

"That is no longer true," said the dealer, smiling. "Strictly speaking this is not Delft, for it was made in France. At the same time we call it Delft, and even an expert of the first order would find it difficult to distinguish it from the genuine article except by the mark of the pottery on the back. To all purposes, artistic and otherwise, it is Delft. Now, here is a piece of real Holland Delft, and I will wager you anything you like you cannot tell the difference."

This was true, though the pottery marks were different. The dealer went on:

"Modern French potters are the cleverest imitators in the world, and of late years it is next to impossible to distinguish their imitations of famous Dutch and German and even English wares from originals except by the marks. You can always depend on the marks, for the French seek to imitate, not to defraud.

"Their industry and cleverness, however, are in a certain sense unfortunate, notwithstanding the excellence of their wares, for they make famous glazes and patterns cheap and common and thus lessen the value of originals.

"The many potteries at Limoges and elsewhere in France, besides making innumerable original creations of wonderful beauty, imitate about every other well known china in the world.

"Here is the flower pattern of the Royal Dresden, for instance. The time was when great prices were charged for that Dresden ware. The pattern was found in royal palaces and the homes of the wealthy almost exclusively. But nowadays the Limoges potteries turn out this pattern in a thousand forms and shapes till it is becoming one of the commonest on the market." — Exchange.

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