What is it and What’s it Worth?
Do you know what makes the colorful plate and pitcher in the photo above so special? Do you know what the design is called? These two 19th century pieces are examples of rainbow spatterware. Rainbow colored spatterware is highly collectible. In fact there are only about 300 rainbow spatterware examples in our Worthopedia, but there are almost 8,000 items listed for spatterware in general. Learn more about spatterware and take your knowledge of ceramics to the next level!
American collectors recognize clear distinctions between spatterware, design spatter, and spongeware. Among English and European collectors, these three units are classified under the common heading of spongeware.
English potters developed the spongeware technique in the 1750s. By the early 1800s, design spatter and spatterware followed. These decorations were used to produce inexpensive, yet colorful earthenware for export to the United States.
Spatterware and design spatterware patterns were applied to a wide variety of earthenware and soft paste porcelain bodies—creamware, ironstone, and pearlware.
Design spatter, also known as stick spatter, features a repeat pattern. The pattern can be geometric such as dots or spots or figural such as ferns, flowerheads, or leaves. The design was hand applied (dabbed) by using a sponge or stick with the desired carved design on the end.
Design spatter, also known as stick spatter, features a repeat pattern. This stick spatter mug/tankard sold for $450 in 2016.
Design spatter usually is found as a decorative border surrounding a hand painted, stencil, or transfer pattern.
English manufacturers include T. W. Barlow, Elsmore and Foster, Harvey, and Wedgwood.
Spatterware decoration consists of tiny dots or spatter, similar to the result from rubbing a colored sponge over a wire screen. Research has revealed that spatter patterns most often produced used a tube with a screen end, the decorator blowing into the tube to produce the desired effect.
Spatterware decoration consists of tiny dots or spatter. This 19th century English spatterware plate sold for over $2300 in 2011.
The amount of spatter applied to pieces varied ranging covering an entire piece to separating design motifs to borders. When used as a border, the open areas featured hand painted or transfer designs. Pieces often contained more than one color of spatter.
Makers include Adams, Cotton and Barlow, Harvey, J. & G. Meakin, and Enoch Wood.
What to Look For
Blue, green, purple, and red were the primary colors used on design spatter. Decorative center motifs included Adams Rose, Columbine, Dogwood, and Pansy.
Blue, green, purple, and red were the primary colors used on design spatter. This English spatterware plate sold for $250 in 2007.
Forms impact value. Platters and three-dimensional forms command higher prices.
Spatterware used a greater variety of colors than stick spatter – black, blue, brown, green, pink, purple, red, and yellow.
Collectors often focus on featuring a specific hand painted or transfer pattern. Patterns include Cannon, Castle, Peafowl, Pomegranate, Schoolhouse, and Thistle.
Spatterware used a greater variety of colors than stick spatter. This Thistle plate sold for $400 in 2016.
Pieces with alternating colored bands are referred to as Rainbow spatter. These are among the most desirable pieces. Color combinations also impact value.
The color of the border impacts price. Blue is the most common color.
On early plates, the birds are turned to the right. Later plates have the bird turned to the left.
Three-dimensional forms command high prices. Miniatures are scarce and very desirable.
Miniatures are scarce and very desirable. This miniature teapot sold for $225 in 2018.
Boleslow Cybis of Portugal reproduced Adams-style Peafowl spatterware in the 1940s. Not all pieces were marked “Cybis.” Cup plates were the most common form. Other forms include cups and saucers and plates. Bennington Potters in Vermont and Emmas Bridgewater Factory in England also reproduced pieces. Many contemporary studio potters also are produced spatterware pieces.
Most design spatter and spatterware pieces are not marked. A marked piece adds an additional 10 to 20 percent to the value.
See marks for: Adams, Cotton and Barlow, T. W. Barlow, Elsmore and Foster, Harvey, J. & G. Meakin, Wedgwood, and Enoch Wood.
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