2004 Issue

Compiled by
Mike McLeod

 This month Mike McLeod takes a look at Chinese Porcelain, Cameo Glass, The Civil War Artillery, and a site dedicated to all things about Pot Lids.  Mike, who lives with his family near Atlanta, has written about a broad range of antiques and collectibles – from Sumida pottery to Gutenburg Bible pages. Readers who would like to share interesting websites with Mike may contact him via email at

Chinese Porcelain

For collectors of antique Chinese porcelain, this website is the place to go. Created and hosted by Jan-Erik Nilsson of Sweden, it offers more than 1,000 pages of “documents dedicated to the needs and interests of the collectors of Antique Chinese and Japanese Porcelain.” The site offers a record of Chinese porcelain covering thousands of years, more than 700 marks and backstamps translated into English, thousands of photos, a glossary of terms, a discussion board, a Q&A section, and a chronology of Chinese history, emperors, and dynasties.

Jan-Erik also lists what he ranks as his top 100 books on Chinese porcelain, and he has posted a few interesting travelogues so you can read about his collecting adventures around the world. This website is a treasure for porcelain collectors.

Cameo Glass

Cameo glass is one of the most beautiful and intricate types of glass, sometimes featuring up to seven separate layers. While cameo glass making has been around since at least the days of the Romans, George and Thomas Woodall were two of several acknowledged modern masters in the field. Their official website is , which features great historical information and insight into their work. There is also an informative description of the methods used in creating cameo glass.

Historical information about the Woodalls can also be found on the website: “From an early age, the second child of Thomas and Emma Woodall developed a sense of flair and showmanship. Through successful publishing and photographic ventures, George became a local celebrity in Kingswinford. He also went through the local art school and worked for J&J Northwood. After leaving his apprenticeship he went to Thomas Webb & Sons as a draughtsman, but quickly advanced his ambitions. He helped re-invent the rock crystal technique, worked tirelessly refining the processes of production for cameo glass and became an international icon at numerous Exhibitions where he showcased fabulous pieces of glass sculpture. He retired to continue working as a freelance cameo artist and died in 1925. In 1980 the Daily Telegraph described him as ‘the Rembrandt of Glass.’”

The website also includes biographies of Victorian cameo glassmakers Frederick Carder, Alphonse Lechevrel, Joseph Locke, John Northwoods, William Northwoods, as well as contemporary cameo glassmakers. Contemporary cameo glass can be equally as beautiful and collectible as antique cameo. A good website to visit and see modern and elegant cameo is .


Civil War Artillery

Jack Melton, Jr., is the creator of this site, and I have had the good fortune to meet Jack and see some of his collection of cannonballs, caissons, and canisters of grapeshot. His website is one to be bookmarked by anyone interested in Civil War-era collecting. Jack is an expert in this area, and much can be gained from his website.

On the homepage, Jack states: “During the American Civil War, more varieties of projectiles and cannon were used than in any other time in military history. The outbreak of hostilities in 1861 found inventors on both sides searching for the perfect blend of sabot, shell body, and fuze to create the artillery projectile that would give the military advantage to their respective cannoneers... As a result of these seemingly endless innovations, the student of Civil War ordnance today faces a fascinating, and potentially confusing, maze of battlefield-tested artillery projectiles.”

Jack provides enough information on his webpage to clear up that confusion. In addition to descriptions, specifications, and historical information on cannons, fuses, and projectiles, he also covers forts, ammunition boxes, caissons, limber chests, and much more. Limber chests were wooden chests for storing ammunition for use in the field. As Jack explains, “When being transported, the chests were attached to the artillery limber and served as a seat for the cannoneers. Large metal handles on each end served to lift the chest and as a hand support for the cannoneers seated on it. The weight of an empty chest was 185 pounds; a fully-loaded chest could weigh as much as 560 pounds.”

There are also some great Civil War photos on the site, as well as drawings and photos of most of the above-mentioned items.



Pot Lids

         Ceramic pot lids are charming collectibles. Treasured for their beauty as well as their historical value, pot lids were either printed to identify the product within and or the space was used to advertise other products.

Between the mid-1800s to the early 20th century, a variety of products were sold in ceramic pots including bear grease, meat paste, cold cream, cosmetics, toothpaste (many flavors including vegetable and charcoal), hair cream, shaving cream, and so on. The early days of pot lids occurred at the outset of the Industrial Revolution, and chemists and druggists were packaging their products in bottles, jars, and pots and selling them far and wide.

Approximately 4,000 different pot lid designs have been catalogued in the U.K. alone. But this Australian website features a lovely selection of pot lids from the U.K., America, and Australia, including quite a few bear grease lids. (Victorians seemed to have had a thing for bear grease, an all-purpose product they used in cooking, rifle cleaning, leather and boot waterproofing when mixed with bees wax, as a skin cream, and hair restorer. People are still rendering and using bear grease today.) And this site gives collectors some informative insight.

“The majority of antique pot lids were produced in the U.K. Prattware and black and white lids are by far the most common. These are still today unearthed throughout the world in numbers,” the website explains. Many pot lids were created by Felix Pratt (1813-1894) of the F&R Pratt company, and his work is so well respected that pot lids are sometimes referred to as “Prattware.” Pratt created multi-colored pot lids in England for hair creams, cosmetics, and relish. Three years after he died, a collection of his ceramic pot lids were exhibited, and in 1924, the first public auction of his work was held.

But whether multi-colored or black and white, collectors love their lids.


Journal Home Page     Contents Page     Brimfield FleaMarkets.Com     Brimfield Country Store     Subscribe