AN ENGLISH REGENCY PAPIER MACHE TRAY, Made By Clay, Circa 1825. This oblong tray is of Gothic shape decorated in the center with a white, seafoam green and pink floral bouquet, and outlined with a wide border of richly gilded foliage and scroll work; all on a black ground. ;Minor wear to back and old chip on rim. Dimensions: 26 3/4 in x 20 1/4 in (67.9 cm x 51.4 cm) Marks: Impressed Clay King St Covt. Garden ;A form of Papier-Mache appears to have been utilized by the Chinese in the later Ming dynasty, but as indicated by its name, compressed and harden pulped paper was first prepared by French craftsmen in the mid-18th century. But the Papier-Mache industry was spectacularly and firmly established on a large commercial scale in 1772 by the patent of Henry Clay of 19 Newhall Street, Birmingham. ;Clay''s patent was for the production of large panels of compressed paper, varnished and stoved, which could then be converted into parts of coaches, sedan-chairs, doors, screens, tables, waiters and trays, by cutting, sawing and screwing. ;The basic material used was not pulped waste paper as in France but a specially compounded rag paper (mostly of linen or cotton and without any wool) of a spongy nature and resembling greyish-green blotting paper. ;Placed on a flat oiled metal or wooden base, these sheets of paper were surface dressed with an adhesive made of glue, flour and tree resin, and built up one on the other with continuous heavy pressure until a panel of some 10 layers had been achieved. ;This, when dry, was tremendously hard and strong and when buffed off with powered abrasive was surface colored, mainly black or crimson, and given a fine coating of an asphaltum-linseed oil varnish, and then stove-enameled at a moderate temperature. ;A highly lustrous surface was thus acquired that could be decorated in a great variety of different styles. Clay used the simple name of paper panels for these agglomerates and by the turn of the century was employing some 300 workpeople, trays being the main output. ;In 1802 Henry Clay, who had become prosperous very rapidly, removed his business entirely to King Street, Covent Garden, London. ;He died in 1812, but his associates continued under the name of Clay and Co. until at least 1860. During the final 35-40 years trays in very large numbers were produced in the Covent Garden workshop, being finely painted in oil-based colors with designs of flower, landscapes, classical , biblical and historical scenes, birds, coat-of-arms, etc., often with brilliant crimson, green and blue backgrounds. ;Many of these were quite expensive and were sold at prices ranging from 6 to 15 pounds. ;They were soundly constructed of strong materials carefully stove-enameled and as a result a goodly number have survived to present times almost undamaged. ;Many are marked on the reverse side -- Clay impressed. (John and Simcox, 125). References: John, W. D. and Jacqueline Simcox. English Decorated Trays (1550-1850). ;Bath: Harding & Curtis Ltd., 1964.
Antique Porcelain & Pottery
Antique Platters & Trays