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Antiques & Collecting: Derby Porcelain

PUBLISHED: 12:02 16 June 2009 | UPDATED: 15:01 20 February 2013

A Derby figure group 1775-80, value £900-£1,100

A Derby figure group 1775-80, value £900-£1,100

I think I am correct in assuming that there are more ceramic enthusiasts in Derbyshire collecting Derby porcelain than in any other part of the country, which is really not suprising when you consider that its production has been a continuous proc...

What is surprising is that most people don't realise that these years were spanned by two independent factories in Derby, each producing first class porcelain.

The present day Royal Crown Derby factory, which started production in 1876 as the Crown Derby Factory, had nothing to do with the old Derby factory at Nottingham Road which was established c.1750. When the old Derby factory closed in 1848 six of its former employees, led by Samson Hancock, started a small establishment at King Street. Later they were joined by George Stevenson, a Derby draper. When he died in 1866 the factory was carried on by the Hancock family. Then in 1916 the King Street works were purchased by a Mr Hancock who had a china repairing business in the town.

During the early years production consisted mainly of patterns used at the old Nottingham Road works, as would be expected, with Japan patterns featuring prominently. Samson Hancock and James Hill (another of the original partners) were highly skilled painters and consequently some magnificent pieces were made. Figures were also produced: sets representing the seasons, gardeners and, of course, the Derby Dwarfs. Flower encrusted baskets, flower sprays, animals and birds were all very popular.

The King Street works had many notable patrons, including Queen Victoria and the Emperor of Abyssinia, and the wares made at this factory are very collectable, with prices far removed from those in the 1930s, when a 21 piece tea-service in a Japan pattern could be bought for about £14 3s and a fine plate for £3 7s 6d! Nowadays the King Street factory is known either as Sampson and Hancock or by many as Derby S & H. This is because the factory mark in use from c.1863 was similar to the Nottingham Road mark, which comprised a crown, crossed batons or swords and a D, but with the initials S & H on either side.

The factory, which contributed a great amount to the ceramic industry, was connected with King Street until 1936 when Henry Hancock, who was a grandson of the original partners and a painter, died. In the following year, S & H was purchased by the Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Company and so a link was forged with the original Nottingham Road works;

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