Pratt Ware is relief decorated, underglaze coloured creamware. It was a mid-priced product made by numerous factories in Staffordshire, Liverpool, Shropshire, Sunderland, Newcastle, Devonshire and in Scotland between about 1780 and 1830. The designs on Pratt Ware items range from sporting and country scenes to nursery rhymes, “morality” portraits of misers and spendthrifts, classical subjects and commemorative portraits. They were fired at a fairly high temperature which restricted the range of colours to the yellow, orange, green, blue and black palette derived from metal oxides (as used on majolica).
The term “Pratt Ware” was applied to these kinds of items by The Connoisseur magazine in 1909. The name came from the word “Pratt” on the base of a single item. This particular item was probably made by William Pratt or in his factory, which was run by his wife and sons after his death. His grandchildren, Felix and Richard, also had a famous pottery works, F & R Pratt, in the second half of the 19th century. But the term “Pratt Ware” refers to the style of the wares and not to the products of the Pratt factories.
Pratt Ware varies widely in quality. Even in items from a single factory and the same design, as moulds were re-used, they became more and more worn, resulting in less crisply defined, and even blurred, modelling. The clay used can vary from a pale cream to a less attractive, dull putty colour.
Some of the old moulds that had been used in the Leeds Factory were purchased by J W Senior in about 1880. They were used to make slip cast wares (not press moulded like the original Pratt Ware) by Senior and his sons up until the 1950s. These are often sold as “genuine Pratt Ware”.
F & R Pratt
In 1818, Felix and Richard Pratt, the grandsons of William Pratt after whom “Pratt Ware” was named. opened a factory at Fenton making earthenware items. The factory continued in production until the 20th century but achieved its main fame during the second half of the 19th century for its colour printed pot lids. These are popular collectables but are not properly called “Pratt Ware”.