Inside the Collections Care Project: Add a little luster

Jan 17, 2015

Historic New England staff continue to photograph and update catalogue records for the more than 25,000 objects we moved out of storage as part of our Collections Care Project. We are still working on the nearly 11,000 pieces of ceramics in the collection and wanted to share some of our favorites. This week, we are focusing on this lovely tea set decorated with pink metallic glaze and hand-painted flowers.

Lusterware is a brilliant iridescent metallic finish for ceramics. Used on glass and ceramics by Mesopotamians, Coptic Egyptians, and Romans, the technique became popular again in nineteenth-century Europe and the United States. Around 1800 the Spode Factory in Stoke-on-Trent, England, began to use a new metal, platinum, to approximate an appearance of silver. By using different compounds mixed with a base metal, the manufacturers could apply metallic hues that varied from rose pink to lavender, from gold to copper, or from light blue to rich bronze. Imagine the beauty of a table adorned with a lusterware tea set, glowing and shimmering under gas lights or candlelight.

Please consider donating to the Collections and Conservation Fund to help us continue the preservation of our extensive objects collection. Visit Collections Access for newly available images as we work our way through the collection.