CHIEF CENTRES OF PRODUCTION Many countries have a justifiable pride in the china they pro duce ; there are special characteristics attached to the composi tion of the "bodies" (the ware itself) and the decoration; they have beauties of their own and comparison is not possible.
The pottery industry has attracted the patronage of royalty and of governments. It is well known that the ex-kaiser had a practical interest in the production of pottery, while the porcelain works at Sevres are the property of the French Government. For years the world has known The Royal Copenhagen Potteries and in the Far East an even greater interest has been shown for centuries.
Commercially, the chief centres of production, with interna tional importance, are the potteries of Limoges (France), Staf fordshire (England), Czechoslovakia, Germany (Thuringia and Bavaria) and Japan. Copenhagen (Denmark) produces a very fine china, but this, although sold commercially, is not strictly a competitive production.
This type of porcelain was introduced by the famous potter, Josiah Spode, of Stoke-on-Trent, in 1799. Alexandre Brogniart, director of the national factory at Sevres, referring to this, said : "Spode produced a better porcelain than any that had yet been made in England. He endeavoured to equal the soft por celain of Sevres, which his paste closely resembled. He intro duced, or at any rate perfected, the use of calcined bones in the body of the ware." Spode's formula has since been adopted by all the leading manufacturers throughout the five towns in North Staffordshire, and also by the Coalport, Derby, and Worcester factories.
There are 53 manufacturers of china in England, and the greater part of these have their factories at Longton, one of the "five towns" mentioned above.
France.—There are about 42 china factories in Limoges, France, owning approximately 127 ovens, and a large export trade is done.
Czechoslovakia.—Felspar china is produced in large quanti ties in Czechoslovakia, in the district of Karlovy Vary, Teplice and Liberec (Reichenberg), where there are 62 factories, the largest being at Karlovy Vary. Three-quarters of the yearly out put is exported. The United States is the largest customer, while England has received large quantities; but the British import duty on translucent or vitrified pottery has naturally caused a falling off in this trade. The neighbouring countries (Austria, Hungary, Rumania, Poland, etc.) take about 2 5 % of the por celain produced in Czechoslovakia. The conditions in the factories are somewhat different from those in England or France, boys and girls running about with bare feet. These young workers acquire great skill and carry out work that in other countries would be done by older people. A young girl in Czechoslovakia may be capable of making and fixing handles to cups at the rate of 70o per day.
Germany.—The German industry produces a large proportion of the world's domestic and industrial porcelain, but, according to a report of the industry published in 1927, only 66% to 7 5 % of the capacity of the manufacturers is being utilized. The German potters considered various ways and means for im proving trade, and co-operative advertising, standardization of patterns and grades, and price fixing agreements were suggestions put forward. All of these have been adopted by various in dustries in many countries; in the pottery industry standardiza tion finds great favour in the United States. The export trade of Germany showed a decrease in 1926. Home consumption, too, decreased, being only 34% of the production, as compared with 44% in 1925.
Japan.—Some of the ware of Japan has a world-wide reputa tion and is distinctly oriental in its decoration ; but the Japanese are rapidly copying Western methods, and the decorations of their commercial products are often distinguished from the wares of European countries only with difficulty. They have realized that in order to sell in another country, they must decorate their ware to appeal to the "taste" of the potential buyers. America is the best customer of Japan for porcelain, and is reported to take more than one-third of the total exports.
The centre of the Japanese porcelain industry is at Nagoya. Although modern machinery is employed, the decoration is largely done in the homes of the people. There are also some small crude establishments where china is made, although it is difficult to apply the term "crude" to any pottery establishment, for to the modern eye a factory producing a good ware may only appear to be crudely designed and arranged. The cheaper types of china are made in the Nagoya district, but the Imari porcelain (a high class product) is produced at Arita.
Toy tea sets and dolls are important items in the Japanese porcelain trade, and the annual production of these wares has an average value of f 13o,000. Porcelain insulators are also exported in large quantities, and many users of wireless materials will probably have handled this particular ware.
Japan imports considerable quantities of raw materials, but maintains an export trade in spite of this handicap. Cheap labour is said to be the principal contributing factor, particularly in sustaining exports of copies of European designs; but the ware of native characteristics makes an appeal to Western people apart from the price, and is in no sense competitive.
The raw materials needed for the manufacture of china are china clay or kaolin, china stone, bone and felspar.
China Clay.—This mineral is found in many parts of the world. China clay is said to have resulted from the decomposition of granite through many centuries. Its main constituents are silica and alumina, and may be described generally as a white, amor phous powder. The clay is not usually mined in the ordinary way, but is washed down from the sides of the mine by huge jets of water thrown down out of hose pipes at a high pressure. The water brings down the fine clay to the bottom of the mine, where any sand is allowed to settle out. The watery mixture of clay is then pumped up to the ground level, and run through a series of troughs, known as "micas," where it undergoes a process of levigation. It is the china clay that gives plasticity to the mixture of materials used by the potter.
China Stone.—This is an important ingredient in the china "body," and it is mined by inserting explosive charges in holes drilled by compressed air boring machines.
The stone has four recognized qualities or grades : hard purple (a white, hard rock with a purple tinge) ; mild purple (similar but sof ter) ; dry white or soft (a soft white rock) ; buff (similar to dry white, but with a slight yellow tinge).
Silica is the principal constituent, amounting to over 8o% in the two purple and the buff varieties, and about 74% in the dry white. Alumina is the next important ingredient, amounting to about i 8 % in the dry white and from 7 to i o% in the other varieties. The most effective constituents are the alkalies and lime which make up the balance of the composition. China stone gives the china "body" its translucency owing to its felspar con tent. Its function, hence, is that of a flux.
Bone Ash.—This, as already stated, is used in the English china industry, where the "bone china" is almost exclusively pro duced. Animal bones are used and, owing to its vast business of cattle rearing and slaughtering, South America is the chief source of supply. The bones are calcined and ground to a fine powder.
Felspars.—The felspars are silica compounds of alumina and alkalis (chiefly potash and soda), with small proportions of iron oxide, lime and magnesia. Norway is the principal source of sup ply, producing about 40,00o tons per year, but large quantities are found in Czechoslovakia, whose annual production is about 30,00o tons. Canada is growing in importance as a felspar pro ducing country, although the production fell to 26,00o tons in 1925, after reaching over 44,00o tons in 1924. The production in 1926 was a little short of that in 1925.
The Norwegian felspar is largely used in Europe. The mineral is exported both in lump and as a powder.
Czechoslovakia is also an exporter of felspar, sending out about 6,000 tons yearly, chiefly to Germany. The export trade of Canada is increasing, and is in the region of 30,00o tons a year.