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"Clobbered" export porcelain

Pictures Copyright Thomas Cleij 2001 The practice of "clobbering" stared in Europe in the mid 18th century, probably around 1740, the market at this time demanding high quantities of enameled Imari style porcelain.

This is for example reflected in the prices paid by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) for Chinese export porcelain bowls in 1733 (height 2 inches, diameter 3.5 inches, taken from C.J.A. Jorg):

The actual sale price upon arrival in the Netherlands was a multiple of the purchase price and especially the Imari bowls were very expensive.

It did not took long before clever European potters started to generate their own "Imari", by clobbering additional decoration on the much cheaper blue and white wares.

In the Netherlands this practice was done in Delft and in Amsterdam and the wares are often referred to as "Amsterdams Bont". Often typical European style decorations were added.

Identical decorations can be found on Dutch Delft wares from the 18th century. The practice of "clobbering" was so successful that the VOC actually started to import large amounts of undecorated porcelain in the 1750s.

As a result of the clobbering practices in Europe the prices of Chinese Imari bowls drop. In 1763 the VOC pays for the same size bowls:

Later in the 18th century the demand changes from Chinese motifs to porcelain more in European style, and the clobbering practice degenerates.

By the mid and late 18th century a variety of European wares with colorful enamels comes on the market and clobbered Chinese porcelain becomes less attractive.

In some way the heavily gilded borders - added in London and most probably on the continent on blue and white Chinese porcelain in the 1780s and later - also belongs to this category of "clobbered" wares.

Until the 19th century, low quality enamel clobbering remains to be practiced.

This information on clobbered porcelain are based on a post by Thomas Cleij, to the Gotheborg discussion list.

Jan-Erik Nilsson