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Sponged Stencil Floral Tile Derwent Foundry Co., Derby

Condition: Good
Price: £45 (approx $70)
Stock number: 04012

UK Special Delivery £53

EU Priority £57

US and World Priority £61

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Chip top right corner, tiny glaze chip just below, surface is lightly scratched but doesn't affect the view unless tilted to catch the light. Perfectly clean, richly coloured and high brilliance glaze.


Style: Floral
• Technique: Stencilled sponged
Manufacturer: Derwent Foundry Co*
Dimensions: 6" x 6"
Date: design registered 1890


An excellent and uncommon example of this rarely found decorating process, a flowing floral design quite bold and filling the tile but also light and full of movement. One this example of the technique the colours have come out very well mixing nicely on the transfer paper and producing a good range of nicely textured colours. Believed made by Geo Woolliscroft and Son for Derwent Foundry of Derby whose branding it bears.

This technique is often described as aerography, a confusing term mostly used and described in dictionaries as study of the atmosphere but in these instance used as a rather fanciful alternative and confusing name for the widely understood process of airbrushing. It was apparently used almost exclusively by George Wooliscroft & Sons and on the tiles they made for Derwent Foundry Co of Derby. I remain to be convinced of the Wooliscroft connection for as far as I am aware no documentation of any kind exists.

In believing that 'aerography' is a misunderstanding an alternative is required, given the technology available at the time, its cost and the relative cost of labour it seems likely that this is a more hand work process. On close inspection of numerous examples it appears that the colours were applied to transfer paper by sponging through stencils which would accord with the technology and ideals of the times. The effect is soft as is achieved by sponging, the decoration on some examples has flaws indicative of stencils such as elongated smudges and also has signs of transfer printing such as creases in the transfer paper. The logical conclusion is that the design was stencilled on to transfer paper. It should be noted that decorating on to transfer paper which was then applied to the tile blank was more widely used than is generally understood, many of the 'handpainted' William de Morgan & Co tiles were painted on to transfer paper with the assistance of an outline and so more accurately may be described as traced and coloured, de Morgan even imported transfers that were decorated in Italy.

One interesting quality of the technique is that fewer colours were applied than appear on the finished product, the lighter green is a combination of the blue and the yellow, the darker blue of blue and brown. The process is a fascinating example of 19thC ingenuity surprisingly mostli limited to Derwent although an example by Maw & Co has been noted (which is unsurprising as Maws used more decorating processes than any other company) and a few of unknown attribution. The lack of competitors using the same process suggests that it was difficult to achieve good results for it certainly found customers more so than many other techniques.

Verso very clean apart from some rust stain, printed company logo and design registration number both somewhat indistinct.


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