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FIELD WALKING

DESCRIPTION OF FINDS

19th-20th CENTURY POTTERY

Over 11,700 sherds of pottery notionally attributed to the 19th and 20th centuries were collected, but they include some 18th century factory-made wares from Worcester and Stoke-on-Trent and imported Chinese porcelain from as early as the first half of the 18th century. In the database they have been divided into four categories:

  • China – largely fine wares and table ware
  • Earthenware – kitchenware and toilet ware
  • Unglazed red earthenware – mainly horticultural wares
  • Salt glaze stoneware, which is very common in this period, is dealt with in a separate section.

Detailed examination, by Mrs Ann Quinn, has been made only of the finds collected during the first year.

Collectors are largely responsible for the classification of wares from this period, rather than archaeologists and it is often difficult to reconcile small pieces found during field walking with the commonly used nomenclature. Indeed many finds are too small or too eroded or have no distinguishing features for identification. No attempt has been made here to study these finds in any depth, although the analysis of the first year’s finds did show that for the purposes of studying changing land use and, in particular, the use of night soil, they could be usefully attributed to the 18th, first and second halves of the 19th centuries and early to mid 20th century. Further analysis might be beneficial.

Apart from dating the finds, information could be obtained from the quality of the pieces about the status of people within the population of Bingham.

The range of wares is broad and below is listed all categories of the types of ware found in the parish, except salt-glazed stoneware. The nomenclature used is largely that given by G. A. Godden (1974). A selection of the sherds found is shown here.

Basalt ware

A number of pieces of black basalt ware have been collected, some showing elaborate decoration. It was popular from 1760 well into the nineteenth century. Pieces that can be dated to 1780-1800, 1820 and 1830 have been found, one being part of a teapot.

Colour-glazed wares

Besides majolica (see below) pieces of pink or blue glazed wares from the second half of the nineteenth century were collected.

Creamware

Creamware had its heyday in the middle decades of the 18th century after which pearl ware replaced it. However, it continued to be used for utilitarian wares in the nineteenth century. An enormous amount of white pottery sherds was collected and among it are some bits thought to be creamware. One piece with a raised pattern probably post dates 1880.

Figurines

Many pieces of figurines were collected. The majority are parts of human forms, but there is a wide range of animals including dogs, donkeys, cats and more. They are generally small pieces. Nothing that could be interpreted as a large Staffordshire dog, for example was found.

Hand-painted wares

Hand painting preceded the invention of transfer printing and continued after it for items not intended for the mass market. It continues today in art pottery. Several sherds of various kinds of hand-painted pottery were collected. The earliest is a blue and white hand-painted piece with a blue glaze from about 1790. Later blue and white pieces date from 1800, 1820 and 1840. Other colours include red from 1820, green from 1860, green and blue from 1820 and 1860 and there are Art Nouveau pieces from around 1900.

Imported wares

Chinese porcelain sherds are not uncommon. They include blue and white 19th century pieces, but there are several earlier, hand-painted pieces, which can be dated from 1740 to 1800. One sherd was found with Arabic script on the underside.

Ironstone-type bodies

In the early 19th century various attempts were made to make a durable and cheap earthenware body. The most successful was patented as “Mason’s Patent Ironstone China” in 1813, but in the period 1830-1880 huge amounts of it were produced in all the major potteries and it continues today. Among pieces found is part of a plate rim made by J.G. Meakin, Hanley after 1890. Another piece without the word England with the maker’s name was made between 1851 and 1890. A piece in “flow blue” is marked Royal semi-porcelain by Edward Clark & Co and post-dates 1877. A piece of semi-porcelain is marked “Alcock England Reg No 27940”. The design was registered in 1885, but the presence of the word England indicates that it was made after 1891. An Ironstone sherd marked Anthony Shaw & Son was made between1882 and 1898.

Kitchen wares

Cane-coloured earthenware is the commonest utilitarian type of kitchenware found. Three types are present: cane coloured external glaze with white internal, cane coloured on both sides, cane coloured with external white stripes. A centre of production for these wares was Sharpe’s Pottery in Swadlincote throughout the second half of the 19th century when all three types were commonly used, while the first kind is available today as mixing bowls. Other types found include blue and white horizontally striped jugs and bowls, black or brown teapots, again available from the nineteenth century to today.

Majolica

Majolica wares were introduced into England by Minton in 1850 and remained popular throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century. A little of it has been found including a green plate rim from around 1880.

Mocha ware

Mocha is the term used for a basically utilitarian range of inexpensive earthenware mugs and jugs with a tree-like design. This is a nineteenth century type of decoration. Fragments of Mocha mugs from around 1880 have been collected.

Modern wares

Many pieces could be attributed to the 20th century including fairly common table and kitchen ware known to have been used until the 1950s. Among the most distinctive finds are the following:

  • Tableware with the NAAFI or RAF insignia. The date of deposition in the field is thought to be during the Second World War, possibly adjacent to anti-aircraft batteries.
  • Blue Wedgwood with raised decoration
  • Tuscan china, which was made by R.H & S.L. Plant Ltd in Longton, Stoke on Trent, from 1898 to the early 1970s was popular in the first half of the 20th century.
  • A Pan Yan pickle jar, which was in production from 1907 to 2002.
  • Sherd marked Johnson Brothers, England Staffs, a company that has made pottery since the start of the 20th century
  • A piece of pottery marked Alfred Meakin. This company operated out of Tunstall, Stoke on Trent from 1875 to 1976. The piece found seems to have been made for the hotel trade and was sold by C. E. Bev… (?). It is probably a 20th product.
  • A sherd of a decorative vessel with the words “Present from Mablethorpe” could be any time in the early to mid 20th century.

Porcelain

Porcelain, including soft porcelain or soft-paste porcelain has been recorded among finds, but is not common. Among these finds are a plain and floral patterned items from around 1800, a soft porcelain small compote from 1850 and a tea cup stamped C from 1800.

Printed wares

Sherds of transfer or tissue-printed wares are the most commonly found in Bingham after white ware. These wares were produced in vast numbers during the nineteenth century, though the method was developed in the middle of the 18th century. On-glaze printing was done first. The main centre of production was Worcester, where blue, maroon, puce, pale violet and brown wares were all produced during the late 1750s and early 1760s. Staffordshire produced wares start around 1780 and from 1800 underglaze printing was dominant. The commonest type of early underglaze printed wares is blue and white, though brown has been recorded as early as 1790. Willow pattern, the most popular of all, dates from the beginning of the nineteenth century. “Flow blue”, which is a smudged, heavy, dark blue was introduced after 1820. From 1830 other colours were used, but they never assumed the popularity of blue and white. The following significant finds have been made:

Blue transfer porcelain possibly from 1790
Blue and white IMBRA pattern, dated after 1810
Early willow Broseley pattern by Spode dated 1810-1820
Early willow pattern design not identified but from 1820-1840
Flow blue from 1840-1860
Blue and white with the back stamp of Dimmock and Smith, c1850
Blue and white with the mark of John Toms post 1875
Late 19th C blue and white with possible dates from 1860 to 1900.

Other colours include:

  • Green transfer from 1830
  • Black and red from 1830
  • Black with thistle pattern from 1830
  • Black from 1840, 1860 and 1870, including a very delicate pattern that might be as early as 1830
  • Brown from 1850 and 1860
  • Purple with a registration number for 1858
  • Violet blue from around 1880

Smear glazed stoneware

A few pieces of black-glazed stoneware with a grey body were found. One piece is a shape of a griffin probably a handle for a tureen. Others have a distinctive basket weave moulded pattern. This fabric can be dated specifically to around 1830.

Unglazed red earthenware

Fragments of this are widespread and most are presumed to be from plant pots of various sizes. The maker’s name appears on some modern pieces, but most cannot be assigned to any period. Some large pieces are thought to be from rhubarb forcing jars. Another use for this type of fabric was for bread baking.

White ware

From 1830 white wares became standard and huge numbers of undecorated white sherds have been retrieved. They are nearly impossible to date. Many are recognisable as from tea cups, saucers, small plates, dinner plates, jugs and bowls. A small number are decorated and can be approximately dated. Sherds from pots made in 1820s, 1860s and 1880s were collected. A piece of a marmalade pot dates from 1900.


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