Rufus Foshee Antiques
Yellow Glazed Earthenware
by Rufus Foshee
Specialist in 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries pottery and porcelain

Collecting Yellow Glaze is a joy for those who enjoy color. I have found that at antiques shows I do, many people have never seen this ware. They confuse it with Quimper, a much later French pottery. Closer akin is French pottery made by several makers at the same time as the English Yellow Glaze that generally is referred to as Criel, one of the makers.

Typical Yellow Glazed Earthenware

Typical examples of English Yellow Glaze, c. l810-30 (Look at our website for more examples)

One is not likely to find English Yellow-Glaze with any frequency, unless you attend a show where the same quality dealers are there each time and one of them is specializing in English Yellow Glaze, as I have long done.

About twenty-five years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Jack L. Leon gave about six hundred examples to the Smithsonian Institution, which they had assembled in a relatively short time. After Jack Leon’s death, Mrs. Leon continued to collect.

Basically Yellow Glaze is pottery and two very refined types of pottery. First called Creamware, about 1770, blueing was put into the glaze and then it was called Pearlware. To learn this shocks some because they are accustomed to thinking that both those types of pottery are cream or white and they are.

Something radical was done, a yellow overglaze was added before the many types of decoration were added, making what J. Jefferson Miller II, in his 1974 book called English Yellow-Glazed Earthenware. So Yellow Glaze, like so many wares of the late l8th and early19th centuries, is on either Creamware or Pearlware, as is Gaudy Dutch, another well known type of pottery from the same period.

If you have been collecting Yellow Glaze, or if you want to begin to acquire the best pieces, it would be best for you to find a dealer among whose special types of pottery is Yellow Glaze. If your thrill is in the hunt, then going from show to show may fill your thirst but is not likely to add much to at the satisfaction of adding fine examples to your collection.

The main reason you may not have seen Yellow Glaze before is that developing yellow glazes and keeping them yellow under high firing temperatures caused problems, for centuries. There is little yellow early 18th century Meissen or later in the century, Worcester, both fine porcelain, as opposed to pottery.

Considering how little of this ware came on the market in the last thirty five years, the price is still very moderate. For example, the price of the average Mocha Ware mug has increased about 9 times, and Blue Spongeware 20 times in this period. Yellow Glaze has increased only a fraction by comparison.

Today, most examples of Yellow Glaze are between about $1200-2500. A Spongeware custard cup that was $18 twenty five years ago, is now $250-300, for example.

Yellow Glazed Earthenware pitcher with red transfer

A simple and typical example with red transfer. Similar examples are found in black transfer, often with silver moldings, instead of black as here.

Yellow Glazed Earthenware Pitcher with Harlequin pattern

As is the case with many types of pottery, Yellow Glaze is often complicated in design and often very rare as is the Harlequin example above where yellow diamonds alternate with silver ones. Also seen in green and much rarer, as well as several colors combined. Below is a close up of this wonderful grid.

Yellow Glazed Earthenware Pitcher with Harlequin pattern - detail

Any serious collector, beginner or advanced, with careful planning may find many wonderful examples to add to their collections. But careful planning in consultation with a dealer will yield more than by chance shopping.

Take caution. Everything that is offered as English Yellow-Glazed Earthenware is not. For example, pieces of pottery may have very exquisite decoration with areas of yellow glaze combined with silver resist, but this is not the same. These examples are often very fine, or even very rare, but to authentically qualify as yellow glaze, the entire ground of the pottery must first have been yellow on all sides before any decoration was added.

There are three dominant types of Yellow Glaze. There are those that are hand painted and usually have moldings in brown, black, or red, there are the transfer examples in black or red, also with moldings, then there are those exquisite pieces that have Silver Resist, combined with transfer patterns, often with rhymes or commemorative verses.

As a beginning collector of Yellow Glaze, it might be wise to buy only examples that one really likes and will enjoy living with. After more experience and knowledge, one may wish to stretch for those examples that are very exciting because they are rare for a variety of reasons.

The best approach to collecting anything is to buy only what makes you happy.