Letter | Published:

The Beginnings of Porcelain in China

Nature volume 100, page 305 (20 December 1917) | Download Citation



I AGREE with most of what I have read in Messrs. Laufer and Nichols's work which made any impression on my mind, and I also agree likewise with what is said in the above letter. I except the impression conveyed by the title, and in some parts of the text of the excellent brochure, as well as in the present letter, namely, that the Han pottery (body and glaze) referred to can be called porcelanous or the froth of porcelain. As they say, it is stoneware—and is not a particulary good variety at that. If Messrs. Laufer and Nichols will apply the petrological test to a good class of “acid brick,” such as is used in the Glover's tower of a sulphuric acid works, they will find just as much, or even more, ground for stating that these bricks are porcelainic. I have compared the two bodies and would vote in favour of the bricks. Similar remarks would also apply to ancient and modern ware made from the so-called vitreous clays when fired, for they, too, have a similar character, and many have a similar chemical composition. Ware like the so-called Böttcher, or Böttger, “porcelain” should not be called porcelainic—excepting, perhaps, as a “registered trade mark” or in metaphor. Nor is it any real contribution to history to call it the precursor of porcelain in Europe when we recall that numerous analogous cases must have been in the alchemist's hands centuries before Böttger's time. The analogy is surely valid also, in China.

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  1. Stoke-on-Trent, December 6.

    • J. W. MELLOR


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