Rufus Foshee Antiques
Strawberry Pottery
by Rufus Foshee
Specialist in 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries pottery and porcelain

The beautiful Pearlware called Strawberry has passed, and passes, under other names.

Decades ago, it was said to be Strawberry luster. There is no luster on this type of Strawberry. The fruit is red enamel, so one may see how it came to be called luster. But this usage has mostly faded.

This was also classed with many other things as “soft paste,” which is a type of porcelain, when stated as soft paste porcelain. The term soft paste should not be used unless followed by porcelain.

Strawberry pottery is Pearlware, developed at the end of the 18th century in England and dates mostly c. 1810. It was designed and marketed as tea services. The forms of the teapots vary greatly.

Shown below are typical examples, including three distinctly different teapots.

Strawberry Pottery

Various forms shown with Green Edge Pearlware.

Strawberry Pottery, Green Edge Pearlware

This teapot, also shown above, is the rarest form of the Strawberry teapots. The form is also well known with the King’s Rose pattern on it.

Strawberry Pottery

Not so long ago, I bought many examples of Strawberry from a very noted collection that included many things. Among the examples I bought were seven different arrangements of the Strawberry pattern on cups and saucers, some of which I had not seen. The above is one of those. The image below will show six cups and saucers of the most common.

Strawberry Pottery

One of the difficulties with collecting Strawberry pottery is that the enamel paint is not over glazed, it is on the exterior. For this reason examples that have been stained cannot be safely cleaned. More than likely one will lose the red of the berries or the green of the leaves.

Strawberry Pottery

So, if you find examples stained, unless you are willing to live with them as you find them, you should not think of cleaning them. Of course, Clorox should never touch pottery. There are professional people who offer cleaning service and do a very fine job.

If one finds examples that are damaged, but not stained, one may have them easily restored, but if it is reliably done it is expensive.

So perfectly matched a tea service as the above is rarely seen on the market. Though if you punch in the name on the web, all kinds of things pop up that have no relation to the subject on which I am writing. Mostly, they are not even old, not to mention antique pottery.

This c. l810 Strawberry pottery is very attractive in many settings. It is often displayed with Green Edged Pearlware, some of which is earlier than Strawberry, but mostly is also c. 1810, as is shown in some of the above images.

There are strawberry patterns on many other types of pottery, even luster ones, and are among the most beautiful. Some examples also have a yellow ground and silver resist decoration.

Strawberry Pottery

Above is a small mug that fits the description above. The flower pot and saucer to the right have pink luster molding, but not strawberries. These strawberry pieces need to be larger than the mug here to really sing.

Then there are other variations as below:

Strawberry Pottery

These examples are distinguished by the pink baskets that require a different arrangement than classic Strawberry.

This 7″ plate has a pink basket filled with Strawberries.

Strawberry Pottery
Strawberry Pottery

This 8 1/4″ plate not only has a pink basket filled with Strawberries, but half moons in the border.

I have often referred to the type of pottery being discussed here as “classic strawberry.” Large amounts of it were made, and large amounts of it have survived. Much of it is badly damaged or stained, as stated earlier. All of it is Pearlware, as is the above with a yellow over glaze. Pearlware is a simple mixture of water and clay with a white slip glaze before being decorated with strawberries or other motifs.

Very recently a potential client contacted me saying they wanted to acquire Strawberry. She wanted to use it. My advice was, do that at your own peril. It is not putting hot tea in the teapot or cups that concerns, but if it stains, then????

Pearlware is not porcelain and it can be stained. It is earthenware, all of which may crackle, meaning it separates from its glaze and stains may easily seep in.

Strawberry Pottery

Here are two types of cups and saucers, displayed with a teapot and a Green Edge platter. This makes a very attractive cartouche.

They are scarce, but there are Strawberry plates. I think it quite safe to use these in limited ways in serving. Putting crackers on such a plate is fine, but not a slab of cheese which will warm and begin to ooze fat, if the cheese is any good, and that is likely to seep into crazing.

Some sophisticated collectors have found a way to pass some heritage along to their heirs by making comprehensive collections, not only of pottery, and giving them outright to their children. This does two things: It passes a heritage of collecting beautiful things on to those one loves and may save a great deal of inheritance tax later.

One matron, as she aged, acquired vast collections of Strawberry, English Yellow Glaze and Delft, making three very happy daughters-in-law when she passed the collections to them while she was still alive. All three are aging now but have continued to add enthusiastically to those collections.

Following are three of the several forms of teapots:

Strawberry Pottery
Strawberry Pottery
Strawberry Pottery
Strawberry Pottery

If you find a cream jug do not imagine that it is insignificant. These, along with waste bowls, are among the rarest examples in the ware.

Strawberry Pottery

The sugar bowl to the right has matching teapots, and in at least two different sizes. Notice that the two sugar bowls, left and right, have two red moldings, the rectangular one in center only one, as with the center teapot shown below.

Strawberry Pottery

Unlike some other types of early 19th century pottery, one is able to make a modest collection of Strawberry without a great deal of strain. Its price is still comparatively low.

Many years ago, my wife Joan and I made a gift of some creamware plates and a matching platter that were identical to some that had been dug on the site of Strawberry Bank historic village in Portsmouth, NH. One day I walked in and on the mantle in a room in one of the houses was a rectangular Strawberry platter, the only known example.

I said to the then director, no more gifts unless I can have that platter. Do you blame me? But I do not have the platter.

Though a great deal of classical Strawberry was made, and much of it has survived, finding it in the market places is not easy. This ware has been popular for a very long time and evidently those who have it in their collections value it greatly, not parting with it easily.

I search the Web often and find not one piece that conforms to the characteristics of classic Strawberry. But a lot of nonsensical things pop up by those who do not know the difference or who wish to mislead.

Finding a dealer who deals in Strawberry as a specialty is one’s best chance of putting together a collection. Trying to find an example here and there is not going to advance a collection, I predict.

Happy collecting!