Re-analysis of Worcester Porcelain Sherds from Warmstry House

In 1977, archaeological excavations at Warmstry House, the site of the first commercial Worcester Porcelain manufactory in Worcester, uncovered a vast collection of porcelain sherds. Experimental porcelain is reputed to have been produced initially at 33 Broad Street in Worcester but the loss of factory archives has led to speculations regarding the formulations employed during this early Broad Street experimental period and in the factory’s formative years. Thus, the sherds recovered by those 1977 excavations are the earliest, indisputable record of early porcelain production.

 As with all excavation, these sherds only represent a fraction of the types and composition of wares produced at Warmstry House but they do hold a built in chemistry. Scientific analysis by Dr W. H. Jay, using Raman spectroscopy, is capable of examining the mineralogy of the body, glaze, under glaze colours and on glaze enamels of pottery and porcelain. A database can be created from the results of this type of analysis which will aid experts in the attribution of early porcelain wares to their respective factories. Connoisseurship, has from time to time been demonstrated to be incapable of firmly establishing the place of manufacture of some porcelain and pottery objects. However, the combination of science and connoisseurship can provide certainty to the accurate certification of porcelain wares.

 Dr W. H. Jay was Senior Research Fellow within the Department of Chemical Engineering at Monash University, Melbourne and is currently working with the Department of Physics, Melbourne University whose Raman spectrometer is being used to examine early Worcester Porcelain. He has been a collector of Worcester Porcelain for over 40 years.

 The Warmstry House archaeological archive is curated by Worcester City Museums Service. For further information please contact Deborah Fox at museumcollections@worcestershire.gov.uk

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