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Canton Porcelain By Patricia Samford. The term Canton porcelain has been used to refer to several types of Chinese export porcelain ftn1 over the years, as well as to the Chinese port of that name which is known today as Guangzhou Menresulting in no little confusion over this terminology. For the purposes of this identification and dating essay, the term is used only to refer to late 18th- to early 20th- century blue and white Chinese porcelains, created for the North American export market. Canton porcelains are typically characterized by several variants of a border pattern consisting of a band of blue containing a crisscrossed lattice in a heavier blue, with an inner border of scallops or swags Figure 1a.

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Most of the porcelain shipped from China to the West during the 17th Century through the 19th Century was formerly known as "China trade porcelain", although now it is commonly referred to as Chinese export porcelain, including the blue and white Canton ware.

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Canton porcelain was manufactured and fired in the kilns at the Provence of Ching-Te Chen, then sent by the East India Trading Company to the seaside port of Canton for the final decorating process by Chinese artists and craftsmen working in the enameling shops. Thus the name "Canton" alludes as much to the decoration and de on the ware as well as its port of export.

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Chinese Canton ware was shipped to Europe and America in the holds of cargo ships which resulted in its becoming known as "ballast ware". The Canton blue and white patterned dinner and tea sets were favored by George Washington as well as the merchant classes.

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Eventually, it became an integral part of important private, as well as public, collections throughout Post Revolutionary America, being the province of the collector and curator. The U. Utilitarian in appearance with outer rims having unsymmetrical ridges and indentations, Canton has several characteristics that distinguish it from other Chinese export porcelains although it is very similar to the blue and white Nanking pattern. Both Canton and Nanking ware are hand painted with a composition of a coastal village scene consisting of tea house, arched bridges, willow trees, meandering streams and distant mountains and an absence of figures.

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The most obvious difference between Canton and Nanking patterns is noted in the de of the borders of each. Unlike the aesthetically finer quality and reliable color of Nanking ware, Canton pigments vary in intensity from a washed out gray-blue to cobalt blue, depending on the varied intensities of heat within the kiln during the firing process.

These thick greyish to cobalt pigments and glazes adhere closely to the body.

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Rob Feland, whose collecting of Canton porcelain spans thirty-five years, graciously allowed his collection to be photographed for this article. A ificant portion of Mr. Feland stated he favored the Canton over the finer, more delicate Nanking ware because of its simple, utilitarian des and coarser texture.

Canton porcelain

His collection is artfully displayed in chinese dating Canton, on tables and walls, demonstrating how Canton porcelain mixes compatibly with other patterns of blue and white Chinese porcelain while contributing character and historical appeal to the decor. When selecting Canton ware, an objective rule to follow is to search for quality, not quantity. On the other hand, the absence of flaws and imperfections due to age and wear of the piece must be considered suspect since much of the charm of Canton ware is in its coarser appearance, such flaws and imperfections being present during the creation.

Quality is exemplified in the decoration, which may vary considerably depending upon the skill and dexterity of the artist who hand painted it. The collector needs to examine for vibrant hues with lines expertly drawn, graceful forms, exquisite detailing and modeling noted in the handles and finials of tureens and covered vegetable dishes, reign marks or lack thereof, although Chinese potters affixed their reign marks to their pottery wares these marks are often suspect and should be verified and whether the piece is a later reproduction.

A comparison of the underglaze clay at the foot depicts differences resulting from modern firing techniques. The absence of the hand painted Chinese des with the use of transfer des are a clue to spotting reproductions.

Chinese canton enamel small bowl dating to the 19th century.

The interest in Chinese export porcelain is reflected in the new awareness and appreciation by an increasing of collectors as well as museum curators. As noted by Brian Dursum, Director of the Lowe Art Museum in Coral Gables, Florida, Chinese export porcelains and Canton ware in particular, although being far removed from the Imperial ware of China, are excellent choices for collectors who are eager to expand their blue and white Chinese porcelain as it is still relatively available and affordable.

Other factors affecting value are age, color the deeper the hue of the blue, the higher the price tag rarity and uniqueness of form.

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The best way for collectors to become familiar and recognize quality is to view the finest examples available by visiting various museums exhibiting Canton porcelain. About the author: Lorena O. Allen, M. Allen Appraisal Studios, Inc. She includes among her clients, museums, attorneys, and insurance companies as well as collectors of fine art and antiques. Address: P. BoxWinter Park, Florida Tel:allenfineart earthlink.

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