Posted on

Ice Cream, Iced Cream, and Porcelain

When enjoying ice cream did you ever think about who invented it? Ice cream  evolved from “iced cream,” a European dessert dating to the late 17th and early 18th century. Iced cream would have been served from porcelain ice pails. During the hot summer months, in a time long before refrigerators and air conditioning, iced cream for dessert was a fabulous treat!

A History of the Dessert

While the precise origins of the dessert are unknown, the first recorded English use of the term “iced cream”was in 1671 when it appeared on a menu detailing what was served in a royal feast at Windsor Castle. In the 17th and 18th centuries, obtaining and preserving ice year-round was a huge undertaking.  Ice was often obtained from icehouses, which were built deep in the ground near great estates.  Because of the expense, iced food was typically enjoyed by the rich, who could afford to build icehouses and had servants or slaves who shaved the ice and prepared iced cream.

Making Iced Cream

Traditionally placed on the sideboard in the dining room, the base was filled with ice and salt, the liner filled with cream and occasionally cut fruit. Additional ice was placed on the high walled cover. The cream would freeze, and then at the end of the meal the Hostess would serve iced cream.

Porcelain and Iced Cream

Iced cream was made in porcelain iced cream pails. Porcelain was an ideal medium for such vessels, as its non-porous surface prevented the leakage of salt water into the ice(d) cream.

See: Jane Austen’s World

18th century Clignancourt Porcelain Ice Pails

Spode Porcelain Ice Coolers

The design of the typical iced cream cooler allowed for ice to be stored both in the interior, below the liner that held the cream, and on the exterior, in the cavity of the steep-sided lid.

Posted on

James Tassie Cameo Portraits

Bardith has acquired 3 pairs of James Tassie cameos featuring historical figures from Great Britain. Read below for some background on these amazing objects as well as for the details about our own pieces.


James Tassie (1735-1799) was a Scottish-born modeler and engraver who produced many cameos and portrait medallions of celebrated figures of the time. He worked with physician Henry Quin to invent a secret composition of white enamel paste to replicate the precious gemstones that were typically used for cameos. This made the process much less expensive, and Tassie saw the opportunity to profit from the invention. He moved to London in 1766 and opened a workshop, where he met with great success.

F. Malpas, Trade card of J. Tassie, glass tradesman, late 18th c. The British Museum.

Always concerned with reproductibility, Tassie usually made designs in three iterations: using his secret glass formula, plaster, or sulfur wax. This allowed him to make multiple copies of a portrait and allowed his nephew to continue reproducing his designs after he died.

Oak Cabinet Containing Sixty Drawers of Gem Impressions in Red Sulfur Wax, ca. 1766-1776. The Walters Art Museum.

Bardith has recently acquired three pairs of Tassie cameos and they are available for purchase.

Hexagonal wax cameo portrait of Alexander Waugh



Inscription reads:

[recto] “Alex.Waugh A.M. Wells Street Lond. 1794 Tassie”

[verso] “Alexander Waugh 1794”

Alexander Waugh (1754-1827), a Scottish reverend and Doctor of Divinity who oversaw the Wells Street church.

Hexagonal wax cameo portrait


Inscription reads: “Uni Aequus Virtuti” “Tassie —”

Rectangular wax cameo portrait


Inscription reads: “G. O. Dempster Esquire M.P. for Perth & C. 1787 Sec. to them N. O. TH”

Rectangular wax cameo portrait


Inscription reads: “D. S. Buchaniae Comes 1783”

Oval cameo portrait


Inscription reads: “W. Ewing Maclae 1791”

Oval cameo portrait


Inscription reads: “Capt. Sir Will. Fraser Bar.T F. R. S. 1807”

Please contact us if you’re interested in learning more about these wonderful cameos.


Gray, John Miller. James and William Tassie: A Biographical and Critical Sketch, with a Catalog of Their Portrait Medallions of Modern Personages, W. G. Patterson: 1894.

Lee, Sydney ed. Dictionary of National Biography, 1899. 


Posted on

Blue-and-White Porcelain: Fancy and Fashion

Ever since its debut in the West dating back to the fifteenth century, blue-and-white porcelain has won the hearts of Europeans through its smooth surface, vivid decoration, and more importantly, hard and impermeable white body. With the rise of international maritime trade from the seventeenth century and on, a great number of blue-and-white wares from China and later Japan entered the European markets via transnational trading firms such as the established Dutch India Company (VOC).

Chinese Blue and White Porcelain

The Dutch had a strong preference for blue-and-white china and often displayed Oriental blue-and-white porcelain in their bourgeois interior space–on the mantelpiece or the cabinets, for instance. In the mid-seventeenth century when porcelain production in Jingdezhen was seriously disturbed by the political chaos during the Ming-Qing dynastic transition, it was very difficult for the Dutch to obtain lucrative blue-and-white products from China. Instead, they looked for recently-developed Japanese blue-and-white vessels as an alternative. As it was much more expensive and complicated to purchase blue-and-white porcelain from Japan, the Dutch endeavored to manufacture pottery similar to Asian blue-and-white examples with more accessible native materials. Delftware, a type of tin-glazed earthenware, thus flourished in the second half of the seventeenth century. Though working with a less prestigious medium, Delft artisans were proficient in imitating typical Chinese and Japanese decorative motifs found on export blue-and-white pieces. While Oriental porcelain was highly sought after by upper-class consumers, Delft was well received by middle-class patrons who were eager to show their taste with affordable but trendy blue-and-white ceramics.

Dutch Delft

The export blue-and-white porcelain from late Ming and Qing China (ca.1573-1900), unlike the domestic products for emperors and scholar-officials, is often characterized by bold and freehand decoration that exudes a sense of spontaneity. Unbounded by rigid court design patterns and Confucian symbolism, craftsmen managed to create a variety of export porcelain with vigorous and fantastic ornamentation that inspires Western viewers’ endless imagination of the distant Eastern realm.

Chinese Export Porcelain
Posted on

Living on the Edge: How to Identify Dates of Ceramics Using Their Edge Decoration

Use this edge ware identification guide to identify and date antique ceramics. Combining edge colors and rim shapes will give an approximate date range; this guide is by no means an authentication source but provides date information based on known examples. See the References section at the end to explore two very reliable ceramics identification sources.


Edged wares simply refer to ceramics (typically refined white earthenwares like creamware and pearlware) that have a decorative motif(s) around their rim edges. Such decorations can be molded/incised, painted/glazed, or a combination of those techniques. The most common rim colors are blue and green, though rarer colors like purple, green, red, black, and brown are known to exist. Edged ware exists almost exclusively in English pottery.

Josiah Wedgwood was one of the first documented potters to introduce edge designs, doing so on creamware in the mid 1770s. Soon, other factories and potters noted his success and began producing edged wares of their own. Edged wares became popular as a cheaper alternative for extremely ornamented tableware. Their popularity peaked during the rather lengthy period of 1790-1860 in England and America.

Edge Ware Identification

To identify edge ware, one must examine both the color and molded decorations.


Color on edged wares can be painted under- or overglaze. Blue and green are the most prevalent colors. Overglaze enamels in other colors also exist, though these are usually earlier and more rare. Ceramics can be in the Rococo, Neoclassical, or Victorian styles (see molded rim techniques below for further identification assistance).

  • Blue: 1775-1890s
  • Green: 1770s-1830s
  • Red: 1775-1810
  • Purple: 1775-1810
  • Black: 1775-1810
  • Brown: 1775-1810

Decorative Motifs

Rim Shape

  • asymmetrical, undulating scalloped rim: Rococo, 1775-1810
  • symmetrical scalloped rim: Neoclassical, 1800-1830s
  • unscalloped or straight-edged rim: Neoclassical, 1840s-1860s

Incised/Impressed Edges

  • impressed curved lines: Neoclassical or Rococo (see rim shape above)
  • impressed straight lines: Neoclassical or Rococo (see rim shape above)
  • embossed rims with elaborate molded designs: 1820s-1830s
  • no molding or impressions at all: 1860s-1890s
    • NB-usually rim lines are painted

Decorator's Tip

Today, edged wares make a wonderful table setting. Combine these with a patterned top plate for a “wow” effect!

Posted on

Creamware: A Brief History

What is creamware?

Creamware, named after its ivory color, is a type of earthenware that was made popular by the workshop of Wedgwood.  Creamware has a hard, somewhat porous body, and thin walls. Calcined flint, feldspar, and occasionally kaolin or other local clays, were added to the white-firing ball clay, then fired at a rather low temperature of 800 degrees Celsius. After this initial firing, the vessels would be glazed with liquid lead oxide. Iron impurities in the clay and glaze were responsible for the cream color of this ceramic. After glazing, the vessels would be fired for a second, and final, time.

Big Names in Creamware

Creamware production began in England in the 1740s. Thomas Whieldon was a pioneer in this method. Whieldon is perhaps best known for his ceramics featuring a tortoiseshell glaze on creamware.

Thomas Whieldon employed a young Josiah Wedgwood, upon whom he impressed his creamware knowledge.

Whieldon ware: a tortoiseshell-like glaze technique on a creamware body.

Wedgwood expanded on Whieldon's methods and created a book of glaze recipes to create different effects. One was a colorless lead glaze that created a plain, well, cream-colored, creamware. Creamware with colorless glaze quickly became popular for tea and tablewares and could be found in many households throughout England and America. Plain creamware was most popular from the 1780s-1812.

Plain creamware.

Common Motifs and Decorations

Though plain creamware was quite popular, creamware was also decorated with a variety of techniques, used singularly or in combination.


Popular edge designs included Queen's shape (named after the Queen of England's commissioned creamware), royal shape, feather edge, and shell edge.


Surface Decoration

Creamware vessels could also be further ornamented with surface decoration including transfer printing, underglaze painting, and special glazing techniques.

n.b. Pearlware soon surpassed creamware in popularity. Many of the decorative techniques outlined above were implemented in pearlware design.

Creamware at Bardith

Bardith, Ltd. has a wonderful selection of creamware in our collection. Can you identify any of the decorative motifs found on our vessels? Click on the image to browse a selection of our creamware.