A Proposal for Research into the Styles and Patterns of Delftware Found at the Read House
The project will study a collection of Delftware ceramics that the owners discarded in a trash pit on the property in the first decades of the 18th century.
I. The main purpose of the research will be to trace the decorative patterns from their origins in Asia to Europe to America –concentrating on how the designs and their meanings changed as they entered new cultural settings.
II. Another area of interest is why certain styles were chosen. What, if anything, do particular patterns say about the owner’s social class? What was the availability of the styles? Were they regional, local, or special order? Did a vessel’s function influence the design used to decorate it?
III. The proposed research will be conducted in the following way:
a. The first step will be to acquire background information on the history of New Castle, the history of delftware and porcelain, and the history of American trade with Europe and Asia. This information will provide a foundation for later analysis.
b. The second step will be to analyze the styles and patterns found on the Read House delftware. They will be categorized according to…
i. Non-decorated vessels
ii. Decorated vessels
1. Colors: Blue/white vs. Polychrome
2. Types of pattern: “oriental” vs. floral
3. Percent of vessel decorated
4. Use of vessel
c. Step number three will be to research the design characteristics found during the analysis.
i. Attempt to trace the design back to its origins in Asia and determine how and why it had changed.
ii. Requires comparison of Chinese porcelain, early European delftware and knowledge of trading between Europe and Asia.
d. The last major step in this research will be to travel to other facilities to compare the delftware found at the Read House with delftware found in other colonies.
i. How do the styles differ (if they do)?
ii. What was the social standing of the other owners?
iii. Speak to other researchers and experts and to compare findings.
iv. Places to visit will include Winterthur, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and other sited in New York and Pennsylvania.
-Written and Researched by: Allison Krieger