A-Z of Ceramics - C is for China
The word ‘china’ was used in 17th-century Britain to describe porcelain imported from China. At that time Europeans were unable to manufacture porcelain, which was an expensive and highly prized material.
As the passion for collecting china intensified, greater efforts were made to discover the secrets of its manufacture. The first passable substitutes to be made in England appeared in the 1740s, and these were also called ‘china-wares’ to distinguish them from ordinary earthenwares.
Today, for many people ‘china’ is a catch-all term for ceramic tea-things, but in industrial circles it means bone china, a form of porcelain that includes bone ash in its composition.
Animal bone ash was first added to porcelain at the Bow factory in the 1740s, but its use in a hard-paste mixture was used extensively by Josiah Spode in the 1790s, just as the importation of Chinese porcelain ceased to be of any significance.