London Date for Swansea and Nantgarw as Porcelain Goes under the Hammer

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), November 24, 2007 | Go to article overview

London Date for Swansea and Nantgarw as Porcelain Goes under the Hammer


Byline: By Jeffery Muse Western Mail

A sale of fine Welsh porcelain will take place in Bonhams on Bond Street, London, on December 5 and it will be packed with both affordable and exquisite ceramics.

Not only are Swansea and Nantgarw considered some of the finest British porcelain, the enamels are also on a par with the best in the land.

William Billingsley (1758-1828) was one of those rare individuals who put everything else aside to realise his dream. He was still a young man working at the Derby China Factory in 1790 when suddenly, out of the blue, he was elevated to chief flower painter and asked to match the design on some early Chelsea botanical plates.

He did it so well that a fellow artist recorded, "When sent off it gave great satisfaction."

As a young man, Billingsley was nurtured and encouraged by two men, his father and Zachariah Boreman (1738-1810), who already had a formidable reputation from decorating flowers and birds at Chelsea before he came to work at Derby.

Boreman encouraged the young man, seeing no doubt his genius at an early age, and willingly shared his extensive knowledge of porcelain bodies and glazes.

Although they had little spare time away from the factory, the two nevertheless managed to experiment and make fine a porcelain at home in No 22 Bridge Gate in Derby, using a small kiln in the Billingsley basement built specifically for this purpose.

Even after Boreman returned to London in 1794, Billingsley was convinced he could produce his own porcelain and so continued his experiments.

After obtaining more funding from John Coke, a wealthy gentleman at Brookhill Hall near Mansfield, Billingsley made a soft paste porcelain in about 1795 at Pinxton, a small village some 15 miles north of Derby. …

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