Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Thanet mosaics

Recently I was talking to someone about  the patterned beach shards that are found around the Thanet coastline. A subject that I have only taken up in the past twenty years.
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.
Local companies like F L Pettman sold Bovril and Oxo to the early morning bathers in very distinctive  cups. However there are many designs and companies that are difficult to place. On the left is a design of quality china found mostly on the Westbrook side of  Margate main sands. It does carry the name Letheby and Christopher which can be easily picked up on the internet, but it the finer local historical detail that is a mystery. In the top photograph above in the bottom left corner is another find that is common and its origins  are a mystery. Also another shard that can found on the beach are red print china shards that bear the words "Earl Grey Tea Holborn Viaduct ". Other finds include"Refreshment Pavillion Margate Jetty" shards and they can be dated by the different font. The oldest they can only be is 1897 because that was when the Jetty was extended to take more paddle steamers and the pavillion was built.
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.


Julia said...

I've really enjoyed looking at the photos of your finds and reading about their history, thank you. Nice to know there are others out there with the same passion, all the best Julia

Don Wood said...

I love your updates Tony