THE STORY OF THE BLUE WILLOW
I have seen credit given for the willow porcelain pattern given to at least two different people. One would be Thomas Turner, who is said to have introduced the famous design around 1780. The original copper plate for his design was engraved by Thomas Minton and is still preserved in Coalport China. The most reported story says that the willow design was the creation of Josiah Spode, a derivation of an original Chinese pattern called Mandarin. Spode developed the willow pattern from him sometime around 1790.
The traditional willow tree design always features a big beautiful Chinese house with a willow tree, a small bridge with 3 figures, a humble servants house at the foot of the bridge, a small Chinese boat and of course the famous love birds on the bridge. willow. The romantic tradition of design might have grown in popularity over the years.
The story goes something like this…
Long ago, in the days when China was ruled by emperors, a Chinese mandarin, Tso Ling, lived in the magnificent pagoda under the branches of the apple tree to the right of the bridge, over which the famous willow tree falls, and in front of the you see the funny lines of the fence. Tso Ling was the father of a beautiful girl, Kwang-se, who was the promised bride of an elderly but wealthy merchant. The girl, however, fell in love with Chang, her father’s employee. The lovers eloped across the sea to the cabin on the island. The mandarin chased and caught the lovers and was about to kill them when the gods transformed them into a pair of turtledoves. These are seen looking into each other’s eyes at the top of the design. A long old Staffordshire poem of the patron concludes with the line: “In the oft-quoted plate two birds are perceived, high in the sky: these are the spirits of Chang and Kwang-se, a twin pair ever in love.” .
Companies that produce willow China Due to Spode’s apparent success with the Blue Willow design, many, many pottery and porcelain companies continued to produce some version of it. Here is a list of manufacturers that I am familiar with that produced or still produce Blue Willow.
Adams Adderly Alfred Meakin Allerton Barratt Booths Buffalo (Hospitality & Restaurantware) Burslem Churchill Coalport Cuthbertson Homer Laughlin John Maddox & Sons Johnson Brothers McCoy Pottery Myott Made in China Made in Holland Made in Japan Maruta Moriyama Pottery (Japan) Nocrest Ridgeway Royal China Royal Doulton Royal Wessex Scio Pottery (Ohio) Spode Staffordshire Syracuse China (Restaurant & Hotelware) Wedgewood Wood & Sons
VARIETY OF WILLOW ITEMS As the popularity of Blue Willow grew and grew over the years, many companies began making a variety of products to coordinate with customer porcelain pieces. You can find just about anything at Blue Willow, including but not limited to: glassware, wallpaper, bedding, tablecloths and towels, cutlery and flatware, picture frames, piggy banks, cookware, enamelware, fabrics, cans, pillows and embroidery sets, planters, candles, switches, bed and bath items, soap dishes, even paper products including paper plates and napkins!
In addition to numerous price guides written to help collectors, there is a book of children’s stories titled BLUE WILLOW by Doris Gates. You can enjoy recipes from the Southern Kitchen Bible at The Blue Willow Inn.
In 2005 there was even an animated short film made in New Zealand that tells the story of love and family betrayal of Blue Willow.
The willow design is also done in red (sometimes called red transferware or pink willow), green, brown, and multicolor.
There are many pieces of Blue Willow that are now made in China. These are good pieces to complete your collection and much more reasonable than vintage or vintage pieces. However, there are sellers who try to pass off these newly produced items as vintage or vintage. Make sure you are buying from a reputable seller and also make sure that what you are buying is actually blue willow. I have seen Flow Blue, Blue Onion, Blue Calico and other Blue Transferware advertised as Blue Willow.
The most valuable Blue Willow items are the First English, Staffordshire, and Spode pieces. Mid-Century Made in Japan pieces are also growing in popularity and can be well priced in unusual styles. There are also quite a few restaurantware collectors, so heavy restaurant china generally works well.
I hope this has given you a little insight on how to collect Blue Willow China~ Have fun!