Inspired by the colourful, floral-patterned cottons first imported from India in the late 17th century, Chintzware ceramics became particularly popular from the late 1920s to the early 1960s. In a period dominated by modernism and minimalist styles, these floral ceramics have, somewhat surprisingly, become increasingly popular with collectors. This phenomenon is no more evident than in the tremendous increase in demand for antique Chintzware china. It was first produced in the 18th century, and its decoration initially took the form of painstakingly hand-painted replications of the floral patterns found on imported Indian fabrics known as “Chintes” (the Hindu word meaning ‘to sprinkle with’).
It wasn’t, however, until the late 1920s that the Chintzware so coveted by current collectors began to appear. What has become known as the first ‘modern’ Chintz pattern – “Marguerite” – was produced in 1928 by Royal Winton (Grimwades Ltd). Stylistically this, and numerous other patterns subsequently produced by English potteries, differed primarily from earlier designs in the density of the pattern. Put simply, the new lithographic transfer method of decoration employed allowed for busier, more intense ‘sprinklings’ of smaller flowers. As a method of mass-production, it also enabled the commercially viable introduction of numerous different patterns and colourways.
Across the board, Chintzware prices for the desirable patterns rose risen as much as 500% around five to ten years ago, with over £5,000 ($10,000) being paid for a 42-piece dinner service at a Christie’s auction. As with all ceramics, there is of course a substantial premium on complete sets. However, over the past five years, prices have tumbled in the UK, although generally remain strong in the US. As such, you can still pick up single items, such as plates or jugs, for under £50 ($100) .
The following are some of the leading Chintzware makers’ best-loved and most desirable patterns to look out for :
- Royal Winton: “Marguerite; “Summertime”; “Ivory England”; “Sweet Pea”; “June Roses”; “Old Cottage Chintz”.
- Lord Nelson Ware: “Primula”; “Apple Blossom”: “Hydrangea”; “Green Tulip”.
- Crown Ducal: “Festival”; “Blue Chintz”, and “Florida”.
- James Kent: “Du Barry”; “Apple Blossom”, and “Hydrangea”.
As to what to collect: well, many collectors try to acquire numerous pieces in a single pattern, while others go for particular objects (such as candlesticks or teapots) in as many different patterns as possible. With all the different species of flowers and colours displayed in close proximity, the collector is spoilt for choice. The affordability of prices over the last few years, combined with the immense appeal of the floral style, may yet make Chintz one of the hottest collecting fields of the early 21st century.