Variations on a Theme- Delft

As an Amsterdamer, I’ve gone through phases not liking Delft at all to becoming a specialist in it.  I’ve become a top seller with almost 100 percent rating on internet auctions with Delft comprising many of my over 5000 listings.  I’m always amazed at how much there is to learn on this topic. 

Many of our customers add Delft not as a collected item per se but just as a decorative accessory or two. Most choose blue and white , the most popular colors associated with Delft.  Some are even surprised to find out that Delft can be multi-colored or polychrome. 

delft_beer_steinPolychrome can mean that up to 16 colors have been used in the glazes on one item. The glaze can affect price bases on its rarity or because it can help to accurately date the item.  The use of  “manganese” adn the way it is applied or stippled before firing  creates a uniquely textured purple red surface and is considered very dear to collectors.
There are many forms of Delft in terms of silhouettes. Some of which signify a ballpark age…  a plate  can have  a plain rim, a yellow edges rim,  more depth in its center more like a bowl , ( but is not one),  a scalloped rim resembling ‘rick-rack’ with a miniature fluted, ruffly edge. Turn it over and it can have repairs that are desireable in the form of staples. There are several locations where Delft was made and certain artists can be traced to a particular factory, sometimes identified by a mark  or because of the obvious lack of one.
It’s really a world on its own –and a face to which I have grown very accustomed and deeply admire. [shown left: Delft Beer Stein, 17 century with manganese glaze]

It’s often the case that such old breakable materials is found cracked, but luckily in the antiques world a cracked rim is not always the worse case scenario. The original use of Delft plate was to hang for ornamentation. Often the hardware was simple and though it stayed stationary, small places in the edge got worn. It’s almost suspect to find a piece of Delft with certain age without such a characteristic. ‘Rim flaking’ is not really considered a problem.

To tell if porcelain or eartheware items are in whole state, when tapped or thumped on the rim of a plate for example, there should be a clear and slightly enduring sound. When the thump produced a broken off or short sound, this signifies a crack or repair. When the clear sound resinates the dish is said to ‘sing’, much like crystal but with a different sound.

There are many silhouettes and forms of Delft that are very inviting to explore. A good place to start if you are in the vicinity of one is in a museum which has such items in its collection with correct research and descriptions, on the internet and in books. If interested in collecting Delft, it is wise to select a few books with ‘marks’ and to keep this with you when out ‘tracking the marvelous’.


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