Flow Blue china

by Dr. Lori Verderame

Flowing Blue was first made in Staffordshire England about 1825.  The stone china base of Flowing, Flow, or Flown Blue differed from the soft-based pottery base lighter-toned china. The flowing color was produced by the reaction of volatile chlorides upon ceramic colors. The colors and designs are applied to the pottery surface are exposed to a chlorinated atmosphere in the kiln and the vapors cause the color to spread and blur–thus flow blue. Make sure you do not confuse flow blue when identifying Staffordshire pottery.

While cobalt blue underglaze could withstand the heat of the kilns, many glazes containing lead oxide provided characteristic flow blue wares its characteristic depth of color and brilliance.

Plate Decorating

Flow Blue plate

The design motifs and decoration found on various Flow Blue patterns are inspired by Asian imagery and Chinese designs or chinoiserie. By the 19th Century, European designs began to appear on ceramics mixed in with the Asian designs. The 1815 trade boom that resulted after the end of the Napoleonic Wars saw a new found popularity for European scenes on flow blue pieces. Views were taken from the popular books and topographical prints of the time featuring landscape imagery and views of European vistas.

Establishing Value

The value of a piece of flow blue is typically determined by the depth of color and the way the color spreads across the piece. Cobalt oxide is used for blue while and nickel oxide produces the brown color variation. Most collectors are purists and regard the blue color as more highly sought after than the other color variations.

Request an online appraisal for your flow blue piece from Dr. Lori.