Pottery Identification Page
This page is intended to help sellers and collectors more accurately identify and describe different types of pottery and decoration.While it may not help you to identify a maker or a date of manufacture, it will, hopefully, put your search on the right track. All of the photographs on this page were generously donated by GPSA members, and if nothing else, show what wonderfully diversified pottery items GPSA sellers offer.
We have scoured the internet for quality links pertaining to each subject. If you would like to learn more about some of the pottery pictured here, please click on the "learn more..." links under the photos.
Section #1 - Surface Decoration
Transferware -
Transferware is a method of decoration that dates back to the early 1800's. It is a method whereby the pattern is "transferred" to the object by a piece of paper that carried the design from an engraved copper blank onto the pottery, before the final firing and is an "under glaze" decoration. Most transferware is mono-chromatic, or one color. However, you will find polychromatic - ( multi  colored ) examples, such as the one pictured below.

Although blue was the first color used in transferware, and the most popular, there are several colors
including Mulberry, Brown, and Green.

Brown Transfer

learn more...

An example of "polychrome", or multi-colored

Blue Willow is probably the most popular and enduring pattern, as well as the most easily recognized example of transferware.
Flow Blue is a type of transferware that has had chemicals added to the kiln during it's final glaze firing which cause the transfer decoration to run or "flow".
Learn more about Flow Blue

is a very colorful type of transferware!
Learn more about Chintz!
Another very popular  motif is the "Blue Onion" pattern. It too was made in different variations by several factories - sometimes with hand painted accents.
Moriage - A method of decoration frequently seen on Nippon that consists of a clay "slip" or paste applied over the glaze. It is a three dimensional applied decoration.
Learn more about Moriage...
Applied Decoration - A method where the decorations are three dimensional and added by hand onto the body of the piece, such as this vase.
Many pieces such as this vase are attributed to European Makers.
Decal Decoration - May look like handpainting, but close examination will reveal the lack of brushstrokes and tiny dot pattern from
the printing process.
Many times decals are used in combination with hand painted accents or applied decoration.
Section #2 - Glaze Decoration

Hand Painted - Note the brush strokes!
Items may be handpainted before or after glazing. Painting done over glaze is generally referred to as "Cold Painted".

Quite often the glaze on a piece of pottery is the decoration! Many glazes take years of research to develop and are passed down from generation to generation. Some glazes and techniques have been lost and have proven impossible to duplicate.
Below are some common examples of pottery where the glaze was a primary feature of decoration.
Learn More About Glazes...
Raku - An ancient Japanese art of adding materials such as straw, leaves or wood chips to earthenware during firing. Below is a simple example - many times they are decorated before or after glazing.

Learn more about Raku...
Lustre or Luster Ware-Metallic oxide film applied after glazing and firing to produce pearly "lustrous" finish.

Majolica - A tin glazed earthenware noted for it's vibrant colors and three dimensional "all over" decoration Handles, spouts, and feet are almost always an extension of the body decoration, such as the twig handle on this pitcher. ..
Learn More About Majolica...

Stoneware -  Fired at high temperature and is  non-porous. The clay vitrifies during firing and does not absorb moisture. This stoneware crock has a Salt Glaze, that is achieved by tossing salt into the kiln during firing. Click on the photo for a close up view of the "orange peel" texture of the salt glaze.

Blended Glaze - This beautiful 1904 McCoy jardiniere is a great example of blended glaze decoration!
Mottled Glaze - This is another example of a mottled glaze.

Learn more...
Sgraffito - Also called "Slip Ware" is a method of decorating pottery by cutting a design into a colored "slip" of clay to reveal the color of the underbody clay. The dark colored decoration on this pig is not paint. It is the dark redware clay of the body revealed removing  areas of the outer clay, or "slip".

Learn More...
Rockingham Mottled Glaze - This glaze is generally referred to as Rockingham. Wares of this type were made by dozens of manufacturers.
Section #3 - Other Stuff!
Drip Glaze - refers to a different colored glaze "dripping" from the rim, and often has a "feathery" edge.. Click on the photo for a close up.
Creamware - A cream-colored earthenware with a transparent lead glaze, developed in the 18th century. This pottery was refined enough to be considered a substitute for porcelain, and was produced by numerous English potters beginning in the mid-18th century. It was decorated with molded decoration, painted enamels or transfer prints, and its most successful manufacturer was Josiah Wedgwood, (who marketed his products as "Queensware").
Bisque - Unglazed and cold painted like this Hummel figurine or bisque piano baby.
Many antique German Dolls were made of bisque.
Jasperware - Noted for it's unglazed texture, it's color achieved by adding metal oxides to the clay, and the cameo relief decoration.
The most popular and often seen color is blue.
Learn More About Jasperware and Creamware...
Character Jugs - are whimsical and collectible pieces often referred to as Toby Jugs. The most well known were made by Royal Doulton, although many have been reproduced.
Learn More About Character Jugs...

French Faience - This lug handled porridge bowl is an example of French Faience by Quimper.

Learn More About Faience...

Where can I go if I don't know the difference between Bone China and Earthenware?
Click here!

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