Manufacture Date:  1762-1820

Common Vessels: Utilitarian vessels, bowl, cup, pitcher, plate, and platters.

Creamware is a glazed refined earthenware with a body that ranges in colour from ivory, light cream to straw. The creamy yellow glaze is caused by the addition of copper to a clear lead glaze. During the manufacturing process creamware is fired twice. In the first stage, the vessel is fired to a bisque. This initial firing in combination with the use of a refined earthenware, allowed for a variety of decorative techniques to be used before the vessel was glazed and fired again. Different decoration types for creamware include moulded rim motifs, under and overglaze painting, transfer print and lustre, used singly or in combination.

Although a cream-bodied refined earthenware was introduced in 1740 by Enoch Booth (Noël Hume 2001:204, 209), it was in 1762 when Josiah Wedgwood developed his clear lead-glazed cream coloured ware that it became known as creamware and eventually by the trade name “Queen’s Ware” (Buten 1980:17). Creamware became popular for tea and tableware in England and the British colonies (Miller and Hunter 1990:110). In North America, those with plain patterns were favoured and flatware was the dominant form (Kenyon 1980:6). The ware was imported, but by the late 19th century there was also production in some American colonies (South 2004). From the 1780s until the end of that century, creamware dominated the ceramic market (Miller and Hunter 1990:110). By 1790 the demand for this ware was in decline and it had become the cheapest refined ware on the market (Miller 1991:1).

Variations in decorative techniques are used to date creamware. One of the most popular rim motifs was the ‘Queen’s shape’, in production by 1767 (Noël Hume 2001:211) and popular until around 1790 (Brown 1982:5). Creamware can also be roughly dated by its shade of yellow, with the ware becoming lighter over time. In 1775, Staffordshire potters started to use kaolin clays from Cornwall (Miller 1987:88) and this resulted in a lighter yellow colour that became common after this date. The progressively lighter shade is also partly a result of refining iron out of the lead glaze (Miller et al 2000:12). By 1830, an even lighter colour was achieved and this is what is now referred to as whiteware (Miller 1991:5).

The development of this twice fired ware marked a transition in the English pottery industry and many later wares and decorative techniques developed from this innovation.


Brown, Ann R. 1982. Historic Ceramic Typology with Principal Dates of Manufacture and Descriptive Characteristics for Identification. Archaeology Series No. 15, FHWA Federal Aid Project 1045, U.S. Department of Transportation.

Buten, David. 1980. 18th Century Wedgwood; a Guide for Collectors and Connoisseurs. Main Street Press, Pittstown, NJ.

Keyon, Thomas A. and Ian T Kenyon, A Compendium of Notes from KEWA 1980-1988 Copyright London Chapter, OAS, 2008

Miller, George. 1991. A Revised Set of CC Index Values for Classification and Economic Scaling of English Ceramics from 1787 to 1880. Historical Archaeology, 25:1-23.

Miller, George, and Robert R. Hunter Jr. 1990. English Shell Edged Earthenwares: Alias Leeds Ware, Alias Feather Edge. Paper presented to the 35th Annual Wedgwood International Seminar.

Miller, George L.; Samford, Patricia; Shlasko, Ellen; and Madsen, Andrew. 2000. Telling Time for Archaeologists. Northeast Historical Archaeology. Vol. 29, Iss. 1, Article 2.

Noël Hume, Ivor 2001. If these Pots Could Talk: Collecting 2000 Years of British Household Pottery. Chipstone Foundation, Milwaukee, WI.

South, Stanley 2004. John Bartlam: Staffordshire in Carolina. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology Research Manuscript Series 231. University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Jefferson Pattern Park and Museum, Diagnostic Artifacts of Maryland 2002: