Wednesday, 7 November 2012
Collecting beach shards and researching them is becoming a popular hobby for the few hardy souls who like beach combing in the winter. Recently I stumbled across a London mud lark blog and was amazed at the research detail that is under taken even for the smallest piece. Some pieces from the Thames came be accurately identified to items over four hundred years old. On the Thanet coastline there is no such luck as most of the shards found only go back 200 years and most of that is late Victorian through to the twentieth century.
Most local patterned beach shards are Victorian and Edwardian and they are often collected to make mosaics. The more dedicated collector can even identify certain designs to the beaches they came from. At Margate for example different catering companies that had concessions had there own designs of china.
Serving tea to beach users was big business like coffee shops are today and even the Southeatern railway company got in on the act as shards bearing the company logo are often found on the beach. Many shards found on the beach are from the paddle steamers that used the Harbour like the General Steam Navigation Company, Victorian Steamboat Association and the New Palace Steamers.
Not all shards are associated with tea drinking and the most predominant plate and bowl finds are blue patterned like the willow pattern and other oriental designs. Older shards of the Dutch delft design have been found but these are very rare.
My knowledge of ceramics is limited so I generally research the ones that have or may have local origins and give them to the Margate Museum. Others that have no local provenance I just give to the local arty people to use.