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Flow Blue

Victorian Tableware and Collectors' Passion

by Jeffrey B. Snyder

Flow Blue ceramics, with softly flowing transfer-printed decorations on durable, white, earthenware bodies, were created by English potters in the second quarter of the nineteenth century and were promptly introduced to the world market. Flow Blue wares were particularly popular in the American market by 1840 and continued to be produced in England into the first quarter of the twentieth century.

This long English production flew in the face of critics such as N. Hudson Moore, who wrote in his 1903 edition of The Old China Book, "There is a certain style of design known as 'flow blue,' which has nondescript patterns, flowers, geometric designs, and which has nothing whatever of beauty or interest to recommend it..."

Americans have never been ones to give critics too much of their attention. America's consumers adored the dark blue hazy patterns and purchased Flow Blue by the barrelful. As the nineteenth century progressed, Flow Blue found its way into a variety of households – beginning with the burgeoning middle classes at its introduction and expanding until these wares were available to nearly everyone by the late nineteenth century.


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