Black folding linen case containing a set of 98 glass vials filled with original powder pigments for painting porcelain wares.

[Germany, c. 1880s].

Black cloth case unfolded (320 x 250 mm.), with 98 vials held in place by loops, two loops empty and vials missing, one vial empty, all other filled with varying pigments; each vial (45 mm.) with original mss paper label (either with a number, or initials, and four fully identified in German) and sealed by original stopper cork, a few corks chipped, but all sealing perfectly; the linen case with some minor rubbing on the exterior.


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An unusual survival. This is a porcelain painter’s over glaze pigment case which contains a wide variety of colours. The numbered vials presumably enabled the craftsman to follow a pre-determined colour scheme corresponding to a numbered master diagram which indicated which hues were to be applied where.

China or porcelain paint pigment does not dissolve in water or oil, because the pigments are made up of metallic oxides blended with fine powdered glass. The powdered glass acted as a flux so that the glaze and coloured paint would adhere together permanently upon firing.

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