A couple of years ago, a reader enquired about the origins of the porcelain teawares I pictured in When Life Gives You Lemons…. It’s the Malay House pattern produced by the New Hall factory in Staffordshire in the late eighteenth-century (fig. 1).
Before any scholarly works were written on the enigmatic New Hall factory, identifying its hundreds of patterns; many of the patterns were known to antiques dealers and collectors by more familiar names.
When I began collecting New Hall wares, the Malay House pattern was referred to as the Trench Mortar pattern due to what looks like a row of trench mortars alongside the house (fig. 2).
The skies above eighteenth-century Staffordshire must have hung heavy with smoke from the thousands of pottery kilns: There were numerous potteries producing wares in imitation of the fashionable imports from the Far East. Factories such as Caughley, Coalport, Derby, Spode, Wedgwood and Worcester quickly became household names – some due to royal patronage.
Most factories developed a numerical system of cataloguing their patterns, though original records are frequently patchy or nonexistent. Despite manufacturers numbering their patterns, many of the common names endure (usually reflecting a principal feature) and are frequently comical or irreverent.
And then there’s a recurring one that I like to call the I Can See My House From Here pattern.