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Lowestoft Porcelain A Brief History and Price Guide

Lowestoft Porcelain is a type of soft-paste porcelain that was produced in the town of Lowestoft in Suffolk, England. The porcelain was produced from 1757 to 1800/1802 and was known for its delicate painting and intricate decoration. The soft-paste porcelain used by the Lowestoft factory was a combination of local clay and a high level of bone ash.

During the factory’s 45 year production period it produced a range of wares for which it has become well known for including motto ware, Lowestoft souvenir wares (many featuring the words ‘A Trifle from Lowestoft’),  birth tablets, animals, and blue and white porcelain. The factory was actually the third longest lived soft paste porcelain company after Derby and Worcester.

Rare Lowestoft Porcelain inkwell circa 1790
Rare Lowestoft inkwell circa 1790, with a Derby or Chantilly sprig design, inscribed “A trifle from Lowestoft” within a puce border, 6cm high. Sold for £3,000 at Keys, March 2019.

What is Soft-Paste Porcelain? – Soft paste porcelain is a type of porcelain that is characterized by its soft, chalky texture. It is made from a mix of clay, water, and other minerals, and it is typically white in color. Unlike hard-paste porcelain, soft-paste porcelain is not fired at a high temperature, which makes it more fragile and prone to breaking. However, soft-paste porcelain can be decorated with delicate details that are not possible with other types of porcelain. As a result, soft-paste porcelain has been used to create some of the most beautiful and intricate works of art.

A Lowestoft birth tablet dated 1796
An important Lowestoft birth tablet, dated 1796. Of circular form with a raised rim, painted in blue with a loop and line border, the centre inscribed ‘MARY RUSHMER/ born Octr 29/ 1796’ surrounded by feathery scrollwork, the reverse with a large peony spray, pierced for suspension, 7.3cm diam. Sold for £7,000 at Bonhams, June 2021.

In Geoffrey A. Godden’s The Illustrated Guide to Lowestoft Porcelain he divides the production of pieces  to pre-1770 blue and white porcelains and post-1770 porcelains.  Although not reference another source suggests Early Lowestoft c. 1756-c. 1761, Middle-Period c. 1761-c. 1768 and Late-Period c. 1768 to factory closure in 1802.

A Lowestoft large tureen and cover signed by Robert Allen circa 1768-70
A Lowestoft large tureen and cover signed by Robert Allen circa 1768-70. Sold for £15,000 at Bonhams, June 2021.

The main market for Lowestoft Porcelain is in East Anglia, where it was predominantly created and sold into the local market. Earlier pieces especially the blue and white are the most valuable and later pieces from 1770 are off lesser quality and often had more simplified scenes. Figures were made from 1780 including the very popular Lowestoft Cats and Lowestoft Pugs.

Lowestoft Record Price at Auction

The record price for a Lowestoft piece is by Bonhams who sold a flask from the Geoffrey Godden Collection of Blue and White Porcelain which sold for £24,000 in June 2010.  The thinly potted and of flattened circular form with a cylindrical neck and slightly thickened rim, painted in blue with a ship-building scene, the boat flying two flags, a workman on deck and another on the beach beside it, the reverse with four ships sailing in choppy waters, the largest three-masted, its rigging carefully depicted, within borders of scrolls and husks, 14cm high (crazing and slight staining, rim chip).

An Important Lowestoft Flask. Sold for £24,000 at Bonhams, June 2010.

Lowestoft Porcelain Cats and Pugs Price Guide
Bonhams record price for a Lowestoft Porcelain piece
Lowestoft Collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum

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