This is the world’s first printed royal coronation mug- a true milestone in ceramic history.
It was probably made soon after the King’s accession in 1760 and is printed in underglaze blue with a portrait of King George III between figures representing Britannia and Fame. The portrait is based on an engraving by Thomas Billinge after a painting by Jeremiah Meyer.
Printing in blue under the glaze on porcelain originated at Worcester and was to revolutionise the ceramic industry at home and abroad. The first examples appear to date from around 1754-6. One of the Worcester partners Josiah Holdship claimed to be the first to introduce printing on porcelain from engraved copper plates. He and his brother Richard were probably responsible for developing the process in the early 1750s. By enabling complex artist-created designs to be quickly and easily reproduced on items in large quantities the technique reduced production costs for fashionable designs on porcelain.
Robert Hancock, the most important of the copper plate engravers, moved to Worcester in 1756 and worked for the factory. His initials, RH can be found on some early black and white printed porcelain.
The method was a one-stage process in which an engraved copper plate was heated before filling the engraved grooves with ceramic pigments. A sheet of tissue paper was run through a press with the plate to pick up the design and used to ‘transfer’ this to the unglazed ceramic surface which, being porous, absorbed the colour. Because the tissue paper was flexible designs could be effectively applied to the curved ceramic forms. Blue prints were applied under the glaze as the pigment, made from cobalt, could withstand the high temperatures of the glaze firing.
Artist: Robert Hancock
Material: Soft paste porcelain
Factory: Dr Wall