“Flow Blue” entered the English pottery world in response to highly valued Chinese Export porcelains. The fanciful oriental landscapes and romantic themes created in deep cobalt blue caused quite a stir in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, which prompted English potters to imitate the designs and bring their own version to the marketplace.
Usually, the production of flow blue is divided into three segments of time. Referred to as Early Victorian, Middle Victorian and Late Victorian, these periods have no exact dates of production because they tend to overlap. In Jeffrey B. Snyder’s, A Pocket Guide to Flow Blue (p. 11), a general guideline is given. “The Early Victorian period dates from circa 1835 to 1860, the Middle Victorian period from the 1860s through the 1870s, and the Late Victorian period from the 1880s through the early 1900s.”
Mr. Snyder continues on page 11, “Generally speaking, in the Early Victorian period oriental patterns based on imported Chinese porcelains and romanticized scenic patterns were the fashion. Through the Middle Victorian period, floral patterns grew in popularity while Japanese motifs were introduced to the Western world. By the Late Victorian period, Japanese and Art Nouveau designs proliferated.”
Collectors today might choose to focus on one time period for their collections. Many opt for buying from any segment and mingling the old with the new, the scenic with the geometric, the lavish with the spare.