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DELFT and DELFT-WARE:
Appraisal values and identification of makers’ marks


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Delft plates urns vases
DELFT POTTERY and the term DELFT-WARE refer to a specific decorative style that originated in the town of Delft in Holland. Potteries in the area making mostly simply-shaped earthenware vases, urns, plates or tiles date as far back as the early 16thC. Most Delftware are Blue & White Chinoiserie designs and were in direct imitation to the widely popular Chinese imports to Europe of that era. Some examples are Polychrome (i.e. of many colors), but almost always on a classic thick white glazed background. Deft Chinoiserie were a Europeanized form of Chinese exports of the time and were designed or modelled with Western tastes in mind.

Delft as a style is still quite popular these days. Pretty souvenirs from Holland or other decorative objects are produced in droves. Although Delft’s Dutch origins suggest that this was the only place that Delft Ware was produced, this is far from true. Potteries in other countries were also very prolific and early adopters of this style, mostly ca mid-18thC onwards, and especially in the UK - termed English Deftware, very often in polychrome designs - but also in France and Italy. Even Japanese potters & kilns that had already developed a rich industry using porcelain, which by default is superior to earthenware, imitated designs made in Holland and exported them to Europe. Nowadays, most Delft designs are typical scenes or shapes that are reminders of Holland’s countryside and Dutch folklore. Many of these are actually mass produced in China and may have had some decorative finishing touches at one of the numerous workshops near their place of sale. Such examples of Delftware is specifically destined for the tourist trade and in most cases are of good quality, but not of any significant appraisal value.

However, some companies have continued the tradition of making pottery in the old manner, both in using tested techniques or materials and also in the true ancient Delft design style. The vast majority of these are often accurate and fine reproductions of specimens found in Museums or fine private collections and very desirable by collectors, even though some may be fairly recent. Such items are clearly marked, often including the Artisan’s initials or other information or a year symbol, and can be readily identified using our Ceramics makers’ marks guide. Additionally, some Delft-ware, particularly those made in France around mid-to-late 19thC, were marked with logos or symbols (usually letters or initials) that are almost identical to those used by authentic potteries in Delft some 200 years earlier and which were by then extinct. These antique French Delft marks are also tabulated and explained in our Ceramics marks guides.

As expected and amply observed in today’s antiques or collectibles market, the Delft style has permeated its reach into objects that are quite diverse. For example, we often see Delft-styled clocks, porcelain Delft figurines, furniture inlaid with Delft-themed porcelain tiles or plaques, elegant chinaware & tableware and all sorts of other decorative or utilitarian items of a distinctly clear Delft flair or motif. Some of these were made ca 19thC, but the vast majority hail from relatively recent times and are often mass-produced. Additionally, these are porcelain, not earthenware like the original antique examples, and have a much brighter sheen and translucency as compared to the original 16 – 18thC Delft specimens.

Appraisal values for Delft pottery or Deflt-Ware depend on a few basic specific factors, including age, provenance, size and condition. Since the Delft style is quite uniform, their appeal and beauty is somewhat standardized and most designs are similar, at least at first glance. Our Antiques Pricing Guides contain actual auction sales records of Delft decorative items, both ancient and later examples, and can help in evaluating your collection’s worth or determine current market trends. Some examples are shown below.

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  • CHINA-PAINTING Four vertical tiles finely
    hand painted in Delft blue with characters from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream: "Lion," "Moonshine," "Pyramus," and "Thisbe." (China-painting is usually fairly artisanal ... [more like this]
  • ROOKWOOD/ROSSMAN/AETCO etc. Six assorted
    tile objects: two Rookwood trivets, one with a parrot, the other with a flower; rare Rossman tile with snake charmer (glaze bubbles); AETCO covered box with Chinese scene ... [more like this]
  • 29” BROWN EYED PINK LUSTER CHINA DOLL.
    Unusually large china doll with deep pink luster, pale brown painted eyes, red painted line above each eye, with center part in hair and twelve vertical curls in back ending ... [more like this]
  • SCROLL PAINTING. China, Qing Dynasty. Executed
    on paper the image depicting numerous seated officials with figures below, painted in vibrant colors. SIZE: Painting 51" x 27-3/4". Overall 102" x 33-1/2". PROVENANCE: Maralyn ... [more like this]
  • A CHINESE IRON RED AND WHITE ALTAR VASE with
    a baluster body and a domed foot, painted in iron red with lotus branches between pendant forked leaves and vertical stiff leaves, the slightly flaring neck with clusters ... [more like this]
  • Chinese Reverse-paintings on Glass China
    likely 20th century. A lot of two reverse-painted generic scenes on glass both in wooden frames with brass hangers; ht. of vertical piece 22 in. ht. of horizontal one 16 in. ... [more like this]
  • Pottery Cocoon Jar, China, Western Han dynasty,
    late 3rd/2nd century BC, the oblong body with a circular neck and everted rim, decoration painted in red, white, and black vertical bands, on pedestal foot, lg. 10 1/2 in. ... [more like this]
  • Large Chancay Bi-Chrome Anthropomorphic China
    Vessel: Pre-Columbian, Central Coast Peru, ca. 800 to 1200 CE. A wonderful and attractive hand-built pottery vessel of a sizable form with a cream-painted, egg-shaped body. ... [more like this]
  • "One Hundred Boys" Painting: "One Hundred
    Boys" Painting, China, late Qing dynasty, depicting boys at play in a lotus pond, probably partial, ink and color on silk, framed and glazed, sight size 11 3/4 x 21 3/4 in. ... [more like this]
  • DAVID ALEXANDER COLVILLE, R.C.A. KING FISHER,
    serigraph, printed in colours, signed, dated 1983 and numbered 12/70 in the margin 35 1/4" x 11 3/4"; 89.5 cm x 29.4 cm Literature: Michael Bell, Colville Being Seen: ... [more like this]
  • LATE 1850's CHINA DOLL German glazed porcelain
    shoulder head doll with molded and painted features with hair pulled back behind ears in short vertical curls with deep comb marks blue eyes. She is on a cloth body with brown ... [more like this]
  • LOVELY CIVIL WAR PERIOD CHINA DOLL Late 1850's
    to early 1860's pink luster shoulder head with ten should length tight vertical curls black upper eyeliner and red painted line above eyes mounted on antique muslin stuffed ... [more like this]
  • Blue and White Kraak-ware Vase, China, 18th
    century or later, pear shape, decorated with vertical, alternating panels depicting flowers and animals, the neck painted with panels of stylized jewels, base unmarked, ht. ... [more like this]
  • Two Blue and White Items, China, 19th century,
    a miniature ovoid vase with figural decorations, pictorial leaf mark on base, ht. 3 1/2, and a deep bowl with slightly everted, barbed rim, with kraak-style decorations, possibly ... [more like this]
  • Famille Rose Jar with Gilt Decoration, China,
    baluster form, with vertical reserves painted with flowers alternating with floral vignettes against a dark blue ground, ht. 12 1/2 in. Estimate $400-500 The absence of a ... [more like this]
  • Four Blue and White Covered Vessels, China,
    a blue and white jar in the form of a garden seat, decorated with two bands of underglazed plum blossoms with ten vertically lined shou characters, ht. 6 1/2, and three boxes ... [more like this]
  • Blue and White Kraak Vase, China, for export,
    Ming Dynasty style, the pear-shaped body decorated with vertical alternating panels depicting horses and flowers, the neck painted with panels of stylized stones, ht. 11 in. ... [more like this]

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