Six Piece “Mason’s Ironstone” Toiletry Set. English, Circa 1835


England, Circa 1835 c.

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Outstanding and rare early 19th century Mason’s Ironstone (6) piece set consisting of toilet necessities as follows:
* large oversized highly decorated pitcher and bowl for storing water and wash basin
* pair of chamber pots for evening needs
* similarly decorated toothbrush holder, large enough for multiple users
* soap dish with removable strainer dish

The fact that this rare ensemble has survived intact with no damage for nearly two hundred years is remarkable. It would have been an item owned and cherished by the aristocracy. and enjoyed as an art form because of it’s high quality manufacture, in addition to the elaborate and detailed decoration. Also of note is the 8 sided octagonal form of each of the six items (see images). Please observe the elaborate serpent or snake formed handles to the large pitcher and both of the chamber pots (see images). Also worth mentioning is the attention the interior of the bowl receives, with as much decoration applied as the exterior (see image). The interior upper perimeters of all of the items receive the same amount of attention. The pitcher and bowl combination is larger than most that were manufactured during that period, (16″ diameter) made possible by the strength of the ironstone.

The Mason’s mark underneath the items indicates an 1830’s manufacture, with the “Mason’s Patent Ironstone China” above and beneath the crown in blue.

The ironstone process was patented by Charles Mason in 1813 who started his company shortly after that date in Staffordshire, England. Ironstone was a stronger alternative than the traditional porcelain and gave way to producing larger and stronger objects because of it’s durability. It became known as “English Porcelain” and limited the importation and marketing of Chinese porcelain. The “Willow Pattern” is used on this set, albeit, a multiplicity of colors is employed instead of the traditional blue and white. The “Willow Pattern” is based on a, so called, iconic Chinese fable about two young lovers denied marriage by their parents; the story being told in images of the pagoda, fence, bridge, and doves in the sky.

This set is all original and there is no restoration. It is brightly hand painted, after engraved copper plate transfers; in colors of rust, green, pink, blue, and white, imitating a Chinese Famille Rose theme. The decorations are quite prolific and very beautiful; also rare to have all the original items still together; especially in such wonderful condition. The Ashworth Ironstone Company bought out the Mason’s Ironstone Company in the 1860’s but still produced items by “Mason’s”.

Bowl= 5 3/8″ high x 16″ diameter
Pitcher= 11 1/4″ high x 11″ deep x 9 1/2″ wide
Chamber Pots= 5 3/8″ high x 10 1/2″ deep x 9″ wide
Toothbrush holder= 5 3/8″ high x 4″ wide
Soap Dish= 2 3/8″ high x 5″ diameter

Provenance: Owned for forty years and from my own collection having purchased from a San Francisco Estate; April 1979.