In the early 1990s a group of people with a common interest in white ironstone china began to gather. The group grew and in 1994 the White Ironstone China Association (WICA) was founded at the first annual convention at Denver, Pa. It is now a national organization with an active membership numbering more than 600.
The WICA has always had an interest in the research of the dishes they collect and use. They found from previously published resources that many English proprietors (potters and modelers) would register their designs, which would hold a patent on that design for three years. These documents were kept in the National Archives in London, near Kew Gardens.
The possibility of sending some of the club members to England to do in-depth research on the designs that were registered from 1842 to 1880 was considered. Every time the subject was discussed at the annual meeting, the prohibiting factor was the high cost of the endeavor.
Though Bev and Ernie Dieringer, editors of the WICA Newsletter, dedicated many publications to the marks, dates and design names of the different white ironstone potters (including several books on white ironstone china), patent registry information was simply not available.
WICA members wanted to access the patent registries to learn the actual pattern names of their ironstone pieces, as very few English potters marked the pattern names on their pieces, resulting in collectors naming the pattern themselves, using the shape or design details found on the different pieces.
In the summer of 2010, Jane Diemer and the Dieringers found researcher Rosalie Spire in England. Spire had access to the archives and was willing to photograph the drawings of ceramics and earthenwares from 1842 through 1859 as the first phase of a larger project. Spire sent these documents via e-mail to Diemer. White ironstone collectors can now put the actual name on their pieces.
The information received from Spire has been included in a presentation, along with a display of drawings and corresponding pieces of ironstone for the WICA’s 17th annual convention in York, Pa. The presentation will be made April 30.
WICA members believe this information will be beneficial to other collecting organizations, as the research shows basic body styles were expanded to other forms such as Tea Leaf, Flow Blue and transferwares. Any member of these “sister clubs” are invited to join the White Ironstone China Association April 30, 2011 to view this important presentation.
Contact Jane Diemer at 302-475-7415 for details.
Those who are interested in learning more about white ironstone and the WICA can visit the White Ironstone China website and join the organization or purchase some of the many resource books available in the WICA Shoppe. It is the club’s hope that more people will be intrigued by the history of ironstone, both English and American, and join them for the annual convention in York, Pa., April 28-May 1, 2011. ?
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