F & R PRATT
We are fortunate in having an excellent reference book on this particular class of wares. John and Griselda Lewis1, Pratt Ware: English and Scottish relief decorated and underglazed coloured earthenware 1780-1840. This very carefully chosen title is most helpful in defining just what we mean by Pratt ware. The two most important distinguishing features are that the ware is relief moulded and this is taken to include plaques and figures and that the wares are 'underglaze coloured'; that is painted. So, strictly, Pratt ware does not normally include tablewares, unless they are mugs, jugs and teapots which are relief moulded.
For the derivation of the term Pratt ware the Lewis' book should be consulted. Any factory-marked specimens are extremely rare though literally hundreds of potters made such pieces both for the home and export markets. Mugs and jugs predominate with a smaller number of teapots and sugar boxes. Moulded plaques are uncommon, but the range of figures is very large, extending from Toby jugs, to busts of famous politicians, money boxes, pipes, vases, flower pots, stirrup cups and many more. Alas, reproductions of some of the most popular models such as the Nelson & Berry jug, the Macaroni tea canister and Peace and Plenty were produced by George and James Senior in the 1890-1920 period. Frequently these were marked Leeds Pottery. Some, but proportionately fewer, Pratt ware pieces occur in creamware rather than pearlware.
Underglaze polychrome painted pearlware tablewares This large mouthful is perhaps best described as the potters would have done as simply painted. In this equally extensive group we are thinking basically of tablewares such as plates, tea bowls and saucers, teapots, mugs and jugs which have no relief moulding whatsoever. The decoration, however, is by painting; and occasionally some sponging, in high temperature colours under the glaze. Understandably, but somewhat confusingly, these are often referred to as Pratt colours.
Pratt ware is from the less expensive end of the price scale. Two firings only were required, and there was no relief moulding to raise the cost of production. Despite this, and the very unsophisticated nature of some of the decoration, these pots are highly esteemed by collectors, especially in the USA to which vast quantities were exported in the period 1790-1840. These cheap and cheerful pots, include the many variations of the 'peafowl' design and other charmingly naïve patterns depict butterflies, brightly coloured groups of flowers and the splendid pineapple. Later designs of the 1830s show flower patterns in a remarkably modern and somewhat over-simplified manner. This type of ware is rarely met with in English collections, but is encountered in almost every archaeological assemblage recorded in the USA from the first half of the 19th century, and in many museum and private collections. Marked wares are rare, but they were in the repertoire of almost every manufacturer.