Gaudy Dutch, Gaudy Welsh, and Gaudy Ironstone

Gaudy Welsh Jug w/ Luster Finish $295.00Gaudy Welsh Vase Sunflower Pattern $240.00

Can you imagine paying $4000 for a teapot that originally cost 12 ½ cents? Had you lived in Boston just after the War of 1812, you may have purchased a Gaudy Dutch teapot- or bowl or plate or cup and saucer- for 12 ½ cents. A Butterfly pattern teapot now lists for $4000- $6000, while plates, creamers and cups and saucers range from $300 to $2000.

Perhaps that is why most collectors prefer Gaudy Welsh. It is still affordable and obtainable, though by no means plentiful.

The colorful wares known as Gaudy Dutch, Gaudy Welsh, and Gaudy Ironstone are distinguished by their strong shapes and pigments, especially the lavish use of cobalt blue and burnt orange in flamboyantly floral sprays, scrolls and borders. Pink or yellow flowers appear in a few patterns, and light green leaves in almost all. Gaudy Welsh and Ironstone are usually decorated in copper luster.

Although these wares are strongly indentified with the Pennsylvania Dutch, they were actually imported from England after 1812 and on into the 1880s. English factories were boldly copying Imari designs imported to Europe by the Dutch, hence the obvious similarity in style and color between Imari and the English “gaudy” wares.

Imari-like designs were made in fine china by Derby, Spode and others, but this expensive porcelain decorated with real gold could only be owned by the wealthy. Ironstone “gaudy wares” were hastily produced and painted, with copper luster instead of gold, for the “gentry”. Apparently these more primitive wares did not appeal to the English, so another market had to be found. They were sent to America, where they were enthusiastically received by the Pennsylvania Dutch and later by the Welsh immigrants (hence the names).

Questions most frequently asked by beginning collectors are:

1. What’s the difference between Gaudy Welsh and Gaudy Dutch?
A: The simplified answer is: Gaudy Dutch cups never have handles and the patterns are almost never decorated in copper or gold luster. (Gaudy Dutch is soft paste, lighter in weight, and different in “feel” from the Gaudy Welsh.)

2. What are the maker’s marks?
A: Gaudy Dutch is almost never marked, though some marked pieces have now been identified. Much Gaudy Welsh is not marked, though later pieces may bear the marks of Riley, Davenport, Wood or Allerton, for example.

3. How much shall I pay?
A: Collectors will soon grasp the importance of being able to distinguish between Gaudy Dutch and Gaudy Welsh or Ironstone, as authentic Gaudy Dutch pieces cost roughly ten times as much as similar pieces of Gaudy Welsh. While a Gaudy Dutch teapot may fetch several thousand dollars at auction, its Gaudy Welsh counterpart will go for a few hundred. Although Gaudy Dutch rarely shows up in the Northwest, a cup and saucer did recently appear at auction, and sold to a dealer for almost $400.

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