Willow pattern dating
The printers inked an engraved plate, transferred the image to a thin sheet of tissue, and applied it to the surface of a piece of china as an underglaze.
Cobalt blue holds up under high firing to preserve detailed designs.
The willow pattern has been made by hundreds of companies in dozens of countries, and in colors from the most-seen blue, to red, green, gold, yellow, purple, black, brown, multicolored and the list goes on with combinations.
Supper sets, leg baths, rouge pots, asparagus servers and teawares, all indicate customers of taste and wealth.
Because it has been in existence for more than 200 years, it is the china pattern with the longest continual production in history. It finds its roots in China, where throughout the 15th through 18th centuries, the Chinese potters were exporting their porcelain wares decorated with hand-painted cobalt designs under glaze.
In the 18th century, companies like the East India Company imported the blue and white Chinese porcelains into England.
Many attribute the now-famous "Willow Legend" to Josiah Spode, who created it as a promotional tool to market Chinese-style tableware around 1790.
Other English china manufacturers soon produced new interpretations of the fable, and the pattern grew in popularity.