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Saturday, June 20, 2009
Petrus Regout (a name associated with worker exploitation even today) started a modern earthenware production factory in Maastricht, the capital of the far South-Eastern Dutch province of Limburg, in 1836.
Entrepreneurs, sensing an opportunity on the back of Regout's success, established competing pottery factories in the area (including Société Céramique), but none was as successful as Regout's firm. By the end of the century, Regout's eponymous business had been renamed Sphinx and was an important regional employer. The pottery industry as a whole reached its zenith in Maastricht just prior to World War I, supplying 70% of the city's industrial employment and producing ceramic plates, cups, jugs and associated earthenware and porcelain products for the world market.
Sphinx and Société Céramique merged in 1958 but the resulting company ceased operations in 1969. The images above come from in-house pottery decoration books used by each of the original companies both as design models for the artisans and also as reference guides for clients. This enormous collection consists of 17,500 (!) designs covering the gamut from logos and monograms, to geometric and abstract motifs, myriad flower and animal designs, borrowed Chinese symbols, architectural sketches and a large range of type faces (among many, many other themes).
The majority of the material available in the Maastricht Earthenware Decorations Collection was produced after 1899 but there are plenty of examples from the second half of the nineteenth century.
Two things to note: I only *just now* discovered that there is an English version of this Memory of The Netherlands collection (that's it linked up above); and also, I had a lot of trouble trying to browse this site. More often than not I had to refresh or shift-refresh pages multiple times to get the images to load or the pop-up zooming window to display the download button. Really frustrating stuff. Perhaps it was a temporary weekend glitch or there is a speed bump in the tubes between Holland and Oz; anyway, just be aware. I have saved another twenty or more images in this flickr set. There was very little accompanying information about each image that I could find and my enthusiasm and patience for collecting it was fairly drained in any event.