Buying and Care Guide
BuyingBecause of the popularity of the Asiatic Pheasants pattern for over 100 years the buyer has such a wide choice of options for possible sources that none of them need be excluded. Jumble sales, car boot sales, junk and second hand shops, charity shops, as well as the more obvious antiques shops, centres and fairs can all be good places to look. Auctions both general and antique can also yield good results. Prices vary enormously from place to place and even from day to day, and there really is no consistency on which to base a price guide.
Most Shops will have a platter or two which should tell the buyer that they are rather common and should be reasonably priced.Dinner plates are less common than dessert plates, presumably because they were used more, but try locating a side plate and it can be several months before even one is seen. Prices should reflect the scarcity of the item. Tureens in good condition are getting rarer particularly the bowl shaped pieces which should include a saucer, lid and ladle to be considered complete. Gravy and sauce boats are also becoming scarcer as they become targets of jug collectors. Fruit comports are not common and the larger cheese stands are rare. Oval Bowls for pies are quite rare and often discoloured from use. As a general rule, the smaller the piece, the rarer it has become, and the higher the price the buyer might have to pay.
So much of Asiatic Pheasants ware was unmarked particularly the table ware, where only the saucer held a makers cartouche mark. For the collector seeking a complete service of the same manufacture try to avoid the smaller producers, their rarity does not make them more valuable, but will be more difficult and maybe more expensive to aquire. Some manufacture was distributed within a region and it will be quite difficult to find outside that area.
In terms of Collectors Status the most prestigious Maker is the earliest mark of Podmore Walker & Cobut contemporary pieces by Ralph Hall & Co ,the Burslem makers, T.J. & J.Mayer and the Hanley makers Livesey,Powell & Co would be very rare, but recognisable only by the most serious early collector. The quality of the piece is really more important than the mark. The finer and more decorative the body the more highly prized, and the clearer and more refined the transfer printing is offset partly by the collectors preference for the paler pieces. This means that some C20th pieces can command higher prices than some of their earlier counterparts.
Condition is everything, in terms of price, Broken pieces should be avoided unless their rarity demands a place in a collection. Give a piece a light flick of the finger to see how it rings, a dull sound will announce a crack, avoid such a piece. The body of most Asiatic Pheasants ware is earthenware which is quite soft. and the glaze can frequently be rubbed on both on the rims and where plates are stacked one above the other, this is common but should be reflected by the price. Rimchips are also common but so is the pattern, so again unless the piece demands a place in a collection avoid it. Hairline cracks, should also be avoided except on the rarest of pieces. Manufacturing faults are generally more acceptable than the signs of damage, but a hairline crack should not be confused with a Firing crack, which is more irregular from the tearing caused by differential expansion and contraction during the firing process. There is such a thing as a perfect second, which might add to a collection but a damaged or worn piece will only be a stopgap until a perfect piece appears.
Always enquire if a piece has been restored, no matter how well this has been done the market for restored pieces is very limited and the price should reflect this. Some dealers are not so scrupulous about their labelling so the buyer must always ask that question.
Because of their regular use many of the Tableware pieces and Dinner Plates were left in the range to warm and the glaze cracked allowing discolouration through to the underglaze and body. Don't believe anyone who tells you that a good soaking in bleach will cure this because it won't. Harsh domestic bleaches only add to the discolouration and if you want to eat off them later just remember what you may have left in the cracks. The best for partially lifting these stains is a continuous alternate soaking in a solution of Biotex and Calogon in warm water but this process requires considerable patience. Some collectors recommend a solution of Hydrogen Peroxide but we do not recommend that method. Discolouration is common, particularly in older pieces and it may be difficult to complete a set without a few discoloured pieces but, once again the price should reflect the amount of discolouration.
The joy of Collecting Asiatic Pheasants is that it is still possible to build complete services of the same manufacture, but also a harlequin set can have as much if not more charm with added interest through the variations of each piece. Manufacturers often changed body styles and transfer supplies through their production and the "harlequin" effect may be unavoidable even when concentrating on one manufacture. Some transfers were shared by more than one company as were the body shapes so for instance, a piece by Hollinshead & Kirkham can in all respects match a piece by Wedgwood & Co, particularly after Hollinshead & Kirkham took over the Unicorn works in 1890 from Wedgwood.
CareAsiatic Pheasants are really not so precious that they should not be used, but dishwashers are not such a good idea. Gentle washing and soaking in ordinary washing up liquid is generally sufficient for cleaning, with a good rinse and a light polish with a tea towel to completely remove any oily residues. Putting pieces in the oven to keep warm can crack the glaze and lead to later discolouration so avoid high temperatures and Microwave ovens where any inconsistency in the body may be found out. Rubbing can occur when plates are stacked so this should be avoided as a means of storage. Because of the softness of the body and the inconsistency of the body shape, stacking can sometimes crack a weaker plate on the bottom of the stack.