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Much of the Bristol china—also call Lowdin’s, Redcliffe Backs, or Lund’s Bristol porcelain—is similar to early Worcester porcelain, with the same shapes, molding, restrained cobalt-blue underglaze painting, and Chinese designs rendered in overglaze enamels and painted with delicate hair lines.This is because two of Bristol’s best-trained workmen, Robert Podmore and John Lyes, moved to Worcester with the factory.Collectors love to find pieces of Lund’s Bristol, but they’re difficult to distinguish from Worcester items.The porcelain factory in Chelsea combined chalk and lime with ground-up glass; in Bow, soft-paste china was improved with the addition of animal-bone ashes, producing what is known as bone china.The Bristol, and then Worcester, porcelain stood out, however, as perhaps the finest soft-paste china of its time.It was made out of a steatize granite known as soapstone.It seemed to have many of the qualities of hard-paste china, it was finer-grained than other soft-pastes, and its glaze rarely crazed, which is when the surface is broken by fine lines.
Finally, in the early 18th century, kaolin was discovered in Germany outside Colditz and Aue, allowing factories like those in Dresden and Meissen to make their own hard-paste china.Despite these advances on the continent, British potteries still didn’t have as much access to kaolin, and relied on their own trademark soft-paste porcelain formulas.The roots of Royal Worcester date to 1751, when a group of 14 English businessmen, including Dr.John Wall, William Davis, and Richard and Josiah Holdship, signed a deed of partnership to produce porcelain.This early incarnation of the company didn’t start from the ground up.
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Most of its know-how, equipment, materials, and workers initially came from an existing porcelain factory in Bristol, which had been housed in a building called Lowdin’s China House in Redcliffe Backs and owned by Benjamin Lund and William Miller. For centuries, China had held the secrets of making what’s called hard-paste porcelain, which used kaolin clay.