Thursday, September 22, 2016

Vintage Finds: Antique Burgess & Leigh Chinoiserie Revival Indian Tree Platter

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Greetings vintage and antique lovers, and welcome to another edition of Vintage Finds! Today, I am pleased to share with you a beautiful antique Burgess & Leigh transferware platter, in the well loved and timeless Indian Tree pattern, that I recently purchased at my favorite charity shop. It was manufactured by Burgess & Leigh in the late 19th or early 20th century, which, as I've mentioned in a previous blogpost, falls within that time period known as the Chinoiserie Revival Period.

The Indian Tree pattern was created by Coalport China in 1801, and, not surprisingly, was one of their most popular patterns. Its distinctive feature is an Asian inspired tree situated in a still life floral setting. The Indian Tree motif has its origins in textiles from India; the typical colors found in this transferware pattern theme were green, blue, pink, and orange, which were often hand painted over a monochrome transferred pattern. Over time Indian Tree earthenware was manufactured by other companies besides Burgess & Leigh, such as J & G Meakin and Johnson Bros, in varying degrees of quality.

If you look closely at the painted colors in this particular platter, you'll notice that the greens are faded and the turquoise is nearly gone, while the pink, red, dark blue and brown have remained quite bright. Furthermore, the glaze on the entire piece is crazed, and a patina continues to weave and wind its way into and onto the aged surface. It is just these qualities that most interest me, and appeal to my curiosity about antiques. They add what feels like a timeless charm, making this piece even more unique, since no two will ever age in exactly the same manner!

And speaking of timeless, that is exactly the right term to describe the tradition of Burgess & Leigh earthenware. Their primary place of manufacture, the Central Pottery, located in the town centre of Burslam, Stoke on Trent, England, began as an earthenwares business in 1851 by a Mr Hulme and a Mr Booth. Although Frederick Rathbone Burgess & William Leigh established a partnership in 1862 which took over Central Pottery's works and changed its name to Burgess & Leigh, 1851 is still considered to be the official establishment of their business.

Various backstamps used from these early beginnings are identified by a 'Burgess & Leigh' inkstamp, while later wares, beginning around 1907, became known as 'Burleighware' (a combination of Burgess and Leigh's names) and were stamped as such. Thus the platter pictured is from Burgess and Leigh's earlier days, between 1862 and 1907.

Here's a detail shot of the backstamp:

Indian Tree, Burgess & Leigh, English pottery, English pottery backstamp
Don't you just love the way the tree branch curls around the names?

In addition to this backstamp, there is an impressed 'B & L England' stamp on the back - another indication that this is a very early 20th century piece.

Over the years there were moves to other facilities (Hill Pottery, followed by another to Middleport Pottery), always improving and refining their crafting of underglaze transfer decorated tableware. And the good news is that Burleigh continue making beautiful English earthenware to this very day, and still at the Middleport Pottery!

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My new platter will join other antique Chinoiserie pieces purchased over the last few months, alongside other vintage items in a more modern style. My plan is to style my c. 1950s James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch with an interesting variety of Asian inspired ceramics and collectables. While researching Burgess & Leigh, I found a very interesting article on the Burleigh website; "Achieving The Dresser Look, The Art Is In The Detail", is a step by step guide on how to style a kitchen dresser (also called a hutch or china cabinet).

Thank you for joining me for another Vintage Finds post!

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