Ideas, theories, and notes

The moment you acquire your first pieces of ceramics you want to know more about them. When were they produced? Who painted them? Is there an overview of model types?  Friggo Visser of Ceramic Museum Goedewaagen immediately shared his wide knowledge and also brought me in contact with collector and researcher Dennis van den Hoek who pointed me many times in the right direction. Books are bought and studied, the internet is trawled for information. But questions remain, inconsistencies come to light and accepted facts become doubtful. And before you know it you start your own research. 

With few period sources of information to rely on it was time to let the objects tell the story. The growing collection and photo archive contained a wealth of information, but how to extract it? A tabletop to spread out objects and photos quickly runs out of space. Experience with spreadsheets, databases, and websites from my previous life helped me to find a way forward. The information from every object was entered into a spreadsheet with additional classifications and links to images. The information can be sorted and filtered to analyze it further. Still, the real power lies in combining these functions with the presentation of images and data on a website page. The analysis can lead to new insights, but any new idea can also be quickly tested and the results can be shared easily.

Below you find short descriptions of the more worked-out observations and theories, with links to the full article.

The last publication of a list of PZH decorators was in The Gouda Pottery Book in 2007, based on earlier work by PZH researchers Rob Hageman and Dick Bode. Recent research led to a better understanding of working periods, found new monograms and new names for known oeuvres or new oeuvres with a new name or still anonymous. The Artists section reflects the latest insights, for an overview of all changes and their substantiation see: Decorators update 1897 -1907

Forty years ago PZH researcher Rob Hageman came up with a very plausible theory to explain the single letter code on early PZH objects: they formed a year code. The growing number of early pieces in the database gave a good opportunity to put the theory to the test. Would this lead to the same conclusion? :  Year letters on early PZH objects

Once it was possible to compare the markings on all objects attributed to a single artist it became noticeable that there was often an inconsistency in the handwriting. Apart from the standard variation and development in the script of a single artist, it appeared that in some cases multiple hands had signed with the monogram of a particular painter. It led to a theory that in the first years of the 20th century, pupils had worked under and finished pieces by master painters. The first step has been to create a visual comparison tool to refine the attributions: Master and pupils overview.

The RS monogram on early PZH pieces was commonly attributed to Roelof Sterken. Not illogical as the quality of the decorations was what could be expected of this Rozenburg master painter. But his career left only short gaps when he was not working for other factories. With enough comparison material, it was possible to get an idea of the size and dating of the RS oeuvre and compare it with other potential candidates: The RS monogram on PZH objects.

On objects from the period 1908 to 1917, it is not uncommon to find a monogram consisting of two identical letters, e.g. NN, OO or QQ.  Much missed dealer and connoisseur Nico van Eijk had the theory that this was a code used for decoration work done at home. It is hard to find conclusive proof but some progress was made: Double-letter monograms.

The P/x code on P decor has for a long time been considered to be a year code. Grouping the images of objects by the P/x code gave the insight it is more likely a decor class code for three different decor families:  P/x codings on early P decor.


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