Ware of the Week

Pearlware

Manufacture date: 1775-1830. Available in Ontario: 1780s-mid 1830s

Common vessels: table and teaware, decorative ceramics.

Many ceramicPearlware Tea Saucer - Chinoiserie design 3 identifications are related to decoration, but when analysing historic ceramics we also look at the matrix of the vessel. White ceramics have evolved over time, and the changes in consistency, colour and glaze can do as much to help us identify a piece as decoration.

Pearlware is one of the earlier types of whiteware that we identify on nineteenth century sites. It has an off-white body and a glaze with a distinctive bluish tint, which gives the pieces a whiter appearance. The faint colour in the glaze is most evident in places where it pools, such as a footring or a brink. Undecorated pearlware vessels were considerably less common than decorated varieties, and many archaeologically recovered sherds without decoration are fragments from decorated wares.

Decoration includes moulded edgeware, monochrome blue and early palette hand painted designs, transfer printed designs, and factory slip decoration (such as annular bands, common cable, mocha motifs).

References

Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery 2013: http://www.daacs.org/wp-content/uploads/ceramics.pdf

Florida Museum of Natural History: https://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/histarch/gallery_types/type_index_display.asp?type_name=PEARLWARE,%20PLAIN