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“Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.“ – “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Updated: Feb 16

We typically we think of ceramics designs flowing from China and Japan to the West, but two of the pieces above are examples of a design flowing in the opposite direction.

The first image is of an English teacup and saucer by Worcester. The pattern is known as “Queens Pattern”. It originated in the late 1760s or 1770s and was popular until the last decade of the century. The pictured example bears a painted mark used by Worcester between 1765 and 1790.

The second image is of a Chinese export porcelain dish bearing an armorial likely designed for Bahadur Shah II, often referred to as Bahadur Shah Zafa, He was the last Mughal Emperor of India and ruled from 1837 until 1858. The service presumably was produced during this period. Here the design is almost an exact copy of the Worcester design, but the date of the service is 50 years after the design’s popularity in England.

The third image is of a Chinese export porcelain teapot. Its shape and size date it to the second half of the 18th century. Its alternating blue and polychrome panels appear to be derivative of this Worcester pattern. Another Worcester pattern of the same period, the “Queen Charlotte” pattern, used a spiraling design similar to that of this teapot, but with blue panels separated by red panels rather than the polychrome ones here. The Chinese teapot seems to have melded the two Worcester patterns.

While I love the Indian market armorial dish, I am really intrigued by the teapot. At the time, the Chinese teapot would have been cheaper than the Worcester originals. It makes me wonder whether, like some merchants today, a London china dealer might have ordered this to fill out his stock with less expensive Chinese versions. “Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.“

R.J. Ruble

Ericsson Street Antiques

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