Department of Anthropology

"Scratched Blue" Stoneware

  • Type: White salt-glazed stoneware
  • Date range: c.1744-1775
  • Median date: c.1760
  • Place of origin: England

The technique called "scratch blue" developed out of the tradition of white salt glaze in the mid-18th century. The vessels are decorated with incised ornament. The design is filled with cobalt blue pigment before firing. Unlike debased scratch blue stoneware, the excess cobalt was carefully removed (wiped) from the piece. The result was a pattern of thin blue lines.

The technique of scratch blue was mostly applied to tablewares such as cups, saucers, pitchers, punch pots and loving cups.

Occasionally, the design was filled with brown iron oxide instead of cobalt-blue. This predates the cobalt blue, for it appears mostly in the 1720s and 1730s.

See Noel Hume 1976: 117 and South 1977: 210-211.


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photo: "Scratch blue" stoneware sherd