BABBIE Potteries dialect wordBaby. Youth. Tiny tot. Or an insult for an adult who is a mard arse!

BACKEND Potteries dialect word. Autumn. After the clocks go back.

BACKS The alleyways joining the small gardens in a row of terraces. Often cobbled.  Sometimes called 'the backs' or 'the entry.'

BACKSLAB Technical term used in sanitaryware production. The slab of fired and masoned (chiselled and cut) fired fireclay which forms the "business end" of a gentleman's urinal. About two feet wide - can be more, can be less. Glazed in white and sometimes with a backstamp. It is against the backslab that the gentleman pees. In some installations (which are always made to measure) each backslab is separated, for privacy, by a division.

BACKSTAMP The maker's mark, name or trade mark which identifies their work. Usually found on the underside of ware. In the early days some potters never thought of backstamping their wares but others copied marks of their more successful competitors. Backstamps may be printed or impressed and since designs of backstamps were, and are, regularly changed we are helped in the dating of their wares today. Sometimes pattern name and designer also appear.

Backstamp - found on the rear of the pot

Backstamp on Swedish Pottery by GEFLE shows excellent image of bottle ovens
Photo: courtesy Claire Blakey

Backstamps can be painted. At the Spode factory in Stoke-on-Trent they were usually in red but also in black and in gold. Also they appeared, sometimes, with no company name but just a number in the photo below - Spode's pattern 488  - no it is not 887!  More herehttps://spodehistory.blogspot.com/2011/01/dating-your-spode-pieces.html

Handpainted Spode Backstamps

Madeleine Buckley writes in Novemeber 2016 "My Mum had a special mark she put under the horses she made, and my Gran had one too, these 'marks' helped them count the number of pieces they'd made at the end of the week so they get paid for their own work! The marks would be indented into the wet clay. Pinters had their own marks too - but I am going back a few years, up to about 1966 ish. Barbara Hyland writes Any items I painted when I worked at Adderley Floral, Longton, was always marked with BB usually in black or purple. Every painter, lithographer and gilder had their own mark.

BACKSTAN See baxtan.

BACK-STERN See baxtan.

BACKSTONE Flat iron disc which is rests on a hot plate, heated by a coal fire, steam pipes or electric. Holds printers colour and keeps it warm and supple ready for use in printing from copper plates. Copper plates are also kept hot.

BACKSTUN See baxtan.

BAD Poorly.  As in "am poorly bad and conna come t'werk"

BAD IN BED AND WOSS UP  Dialect. Actually a quite common phrase used when you're poorly, have a hangover following a great night out or just plain miserable. Perhaps you enjoyed just a little toooo much at the New Year's Eve celebrations and perhaps it would be better for you to stay in bed a little longer. After all, you would feel worse if you got up!  Happy New Year!

BADGING Process. Application, by transfer print or slide litho, of a decorative badge or the company brand logo (the backstamp) to a pot.

BADGED WARE  Specially commissioned designs on pottery. Also known as armorial ware these could include a full coat of arms of a Royal family, or a simple printed design for a commercial company such as Coleman's Mustard. Note that this term may be specific to the Spode factory - there are over 20 badge books in the Spode Archive.  For an example of badged ware click here>

BADGER Occupation. The person who applies the company brand logo or mark to a pot. Also, sometimes, the person who applies the specially commissioned badge to the ware (see above)

BAG Part of a bottle oven. A small vertical firebrick flue or chimney found directly above the firemouth on the inside of a potter's biscuit or glost bottle oven. Separates the combustion space from the stacked ware space.The bag directed flames into the oven and protected the nearby saggars from the most intense heat.  Prevents hots spots among the pots nearest the fire. The photo below shows three bags.  In a 'usual' large bottle oven there would be eight bags, situated above the eight firemouths.

Three bags and the pipe bung in one of the ovens at
Gladstone Pottery Museum, Stoke-on-Trent, England.  September 2013

BAG MAN The name of the drawer who worked on the floor of the oven when it was being emptied after firing. He had the worst drawing job. He had to lift the heavy saggars from below waist level, bending and stretching, twisting and turning.

BAIT To carefully load coal into the firemouths. Also pronounced BET.

BAITING Process during firing. Periodic stoking of the oven. Carefully loading coal onto the fire in each of the firemouths of an oven during firing. A careful operation so as not to disturb the fuel bed. Follows lumping (the first loading of coal in the firemouths at the start of the firing cycle) and was carried out as regularly and as equally as possible at each firemouth to ensure even firing in the four quarters of the oven. Up to one and a half hundredweight of coal could be used at one baiting at one firemouth. (A full firemouth in a smallish oven would contain a total of 4 cwts) A fireman and his sitter up could use up to 20 tons of coal during the firing of an average sized bottle oven. More for bigger ovens. Baiting was pronounced 'beeting' by some oven men who had a very broad accent.

Preparing the fuel bed in the firemouth at the Last Bottle Oven Firing, Gladstone Pottery Museum 1978
The Last Bottle Oven Firing, Gladstone Pottery Museum 1978.
The Author with a No.8 British Standard Shovel.
Wife and sister in the Background

Baiting at the Last Bottle Oven Firing. 1978
Fred Greasley and Alfred Clough

BAITING BOX A large, shallow, open top metal box with handles on the sides. Used to scoop up coal and pour it into the firemouth.

BAITING PLATE The bottom ledge of the cast iron frame which surrounds a bottle oven mouth and against which the firedoors can be slammed tight.

BAITING POKER Equipment. Used during firing. A tool of the fireman's trade. About six feet long and 1 inch diameter steel or iron rod. Used to keep the firebed under control during firing. Also used as a device to detect condensation in the oven during baiting.

Baiting Poker

BALL CLAY Component of pottery body recipe. A highly plastic clay essential to the production of some types of pottery. In the UK it is found in Devon and Dorset and its name refers to the traditional way in which huge balls of clay, 35lbs ( 16 kgs ) in weight were carried by pack horse. Ball clays are dug from open-cast pits or deep mined. Ball clays are secondary clays or 'sedimentary.' That is clays which have been transported away from their point of geologic origin by water.  The finer particle-size of ball clays gives greater plasticity than for stoneware clays, or fireclays. Before firing they are very dark in colour due to the high content of carbonaceous matter present. This burns away during firing leaving a white or buff coloured body.

BALL MILL Equipment. Machine. Used in the slip house. Used for the very fine grinding of ceramic material. Large revolving cylinder (12 feet diameter and 15 feet long) made from riveted sheets of steel. Revolves around its horizontal axis. Containing grinding media (manufactured ceramic balls or flint pebbles) and used to grind batches of ceramic material such as silica sand. Sometimes known as a pebble mill.

BALLER Occupation. Potting shop. Thrower's assistant. Usually female (sometimes the thrower's wife) Supplies the thrower with balls of wedged and weighed clay at a certain weight for the thrower to manipulate into a pot on the throwing wheel. Then removes the thrown ware from the wheel to a ware board.

In a potbank the baller prepares a ball of clay for thrower to make a pot at his wheel
The baller prepares another ball of clay for the thrower at the wheel
The ball of clay, of  known weight, is used by the thrower to make a pot.

BALLING UP Process. Cutting pieces of clay from a pug roll or a block of wedged clay, weighing the cut lump and adjusting the quantity of clay to create consistency, then rolling the lump in his or her hands to create a ball of clay for use by the thrower. Sometimes the ball of clay was placed in the bottom of a plaster mould for hollowware (a teacup for instance) the using a jolley the ball was 'run up' the sides of the mould to produce the piece.

BAL MAIDENS This is not a term used in the Staffordshire Potteries but it is worth mentioning here. The term originates in the mining industry of Cornwall. Its is the generic term for a female surface mine worker applied to any Cornish mine The expression really came into use the copper boom which started at the end of the seventeenth century. Later, the term was used on the 'dressing floors of tin mines' and in the clay pits.

Bal Maidens
Forming china clay into blocks by hand
Photo: source unknown  Date: 1900

BAMBOO WARE A bamboo-like type of cane ware somewhat dark in colour, first made by Josiah Wedgwood in 1770.

BAND Decoration. A relatively broad coloured or gold line applied to circular pottery pieces, by hand or by machine, to create a decorative effect. cf line

BANDS Another name for bonts.

BANDER Occupation. Decorating department. Usually female. Uses a broad pencil (potter's name for a brush) to apply a band of colour the edge of a pot to create decoration.

BANDING Process. Application of a band or ring of colour to the edge of a piece of pottery to form part of its decoration. Banding should not be confused with lining which is the application of a single line of colour, or with gilding which is lining in gold.  Banding is usually applied by brush, or pencil on a wheel or whirler, which is spun by the left hand of the worker, the brush or pencil remaining stationary whilst the piece of pottery which is being treated is rotated on the wheel.

BANDING MACHINE OPERATIVE Occupation. Decorating department. Person who operates a machine that is preset to apply a line or band of ceramic colour to an item in a linear fashion. The decorated pieces then go for hardening on or firing to fire the colour band to the piece.

BANDING SHOP Department in the decorating end. Workshop where decorative bands were/are applied to flatware, and holloware.

BANDING WHEEL Equipment. Decorating department. Turntable for applying decorative colour bands to holloware or flatware. The revolving head sits on a pedestal base and is turned by hand. Used for finishing or decorating pottery.

BANJO Kiln Furniture. A saggar with a particular shape. Actually, more like the shape of a ukulele! (My guess is that some poor and poorly educated potters of the 19th and early 20th Centuries couldn't spell or even say the word ukulele, so they plumped for banjo instead)  Mainly for glost firing. Ideal for a double row of dottled muffins.

Banjo saggar, more like the shape of a ukulele
Photo: Terry Woolliscroft Collection  Date:2017

But what is a muffin?  Don't get confused!  An American Muffin is a small domed spongy cake made with eggs and baking powder. An English Muffin is leavened bread, beloved by the English aristocracy particularly in the early 20th Century and served in a Muffin Dish.  A Muffin Dish should not be confused with the Muffin which is a small pottery plate measuring 5 or 6 inches in diameter. So Banjos were for small pottery plates.

BANNERING Process. Ovens department. A job for the saggar maker. Involved the use of a small metal or wooden tool to true up the rim of an unfired saggar to ensure that it lay in one true horizontal plane. Bungs of saggars in a bottle oven can reach up to 20 feet in height and should stack as close to the vertical as possible. It was therefore an important job to ensure that the rims and bottoms of freshly made saggars were perfectly flat.

Bannering in the saggar making shop
11th Sept 1900

BANNER OFF  'Go away!'


BANK OF MOULDS A grouping of moulds. Mould store.

BARREL Usually known as a cask in the pottery industry. Used for the packing and dispatch of pottery with straw or woodwool as the packing medium. Named according to size:
• Crate
• Hogshead (abbreviated to Hhd)
• Tierce
• Cask

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BASALT WARE Type of pottery with a particular recipe and requiring particular firing conditions. Black and vitreous. Stoneware. Contains iron oxide and manganese dioxide. Unglazed. Originated by Josiah Wedgwood.

BASIN SAGGAR Kiln furniture. A saggar. Particular shape used for small holloware.

BAS RELIEF A method of decoration which is part of the modelling of the pottery itself, and comes from the mould. The pattern appears in the form of an embossment. It is frequently referred to as “relief-modelling. ”

BASS Poor coal.  Not good for using to fire an potters oven.

BASS Remarkably tasty beer!

BAT Almost anything flat on a potbank!

BAT Equipment. Kiln furniture. A saggar marl or refractory flat clay shelf on which pottery ware is placed during firing.

BAT Kiln furniture. A saggar marl or refractory clay slab used in the bottle oven to seal the top-most saggar in a bung.

BAT Equipment. A plaster bat is used to support pottery in its clay state, as it dries.

BAT Equipment. A steel bat is used to support decorated glost ware in the enamel kiln during firing. The steel tended to warp and distort under the intense heat of around 750C.

BAT Roughly shaped disc of pottery body - a clay disc ready for jiggering.

BAT  also known as a  PLATE or a SHARD Equipment. Used in the saggar making shop. Large flat metal sheet pierced with holes of about 2" diameter. Used by the saggar maker's bottom knocker to transfer the recently made saggar bottom onto a whirler prior to the saggar maker constructing of the sides of the saggar.

BAT Flat sheet of animal glue or gelatine used in bat printing.

BATH BRACES A means of transporting huge and very heavy Fireclay pottery baths.

BATING Another spelling found in the literature for BAITING (stoking the oven during firing).

BAT PRINT and BAT PRINTING Type of decoration. Type of transfer printing. Developed by W. Baddeley in 1777 as a method of decorating pottery. Produces a delicate print onglaze. Cold printing - no heat being required. It involved the use of a flexible pad (bat) of animal-hide glue, or gelatine, to transfer oil from the design on an engraved copper plate to the glazed pottery to be decorated. The oil which had been transferred to the ware was then dusted with fine ground enamel colour. Bat printing gave finer results than the normal line engraving technique of transfer printed decorations. However it had a disadvantage - the glue bat tended to distort during use causing the finished pattern to become distorted and sometimes unsightly. Virtually obsolete by 1935.

Left : small copper plate engraved for bat printing
Middle and right : Spode pattern 558 bat printed and gilded

BAT WASH Coating of refractory material applied in slurry form to kiln furniture or saggars to stop ware sticking to it during firing. It is regarded as good practice to use a batt wash coating on the upper surface of shelves only. No other kiln furniture needs to be treated. Over a period of time, some ‘plucking’ or flaking of the batt wash may occur and this can be retouched without the need to completely recoat the shelves.

Church batter

BATTER The description of the slope given to the shape of the brickwork of the hovel of a bottle oven. Batters can be stepped or flat. Church batter is curved and real bottle shaped. Straight batter is truly conical.

BATTER HEAD A pottery placer. All placers have their birthday on Shrove Tuesday.

BATTER RULE Equipment. Used by a bottle oven builder as a measuring device. Used to give the required slope on the hovel. Sort of a protractor. (Mountford, kiln builder) Sometimes called batter plumb rule.

BATTERY CASTING Process. Sanitaryware. A system of mechanised handling, tilting and automatic filling of the heavy plaster moulds used to slip-cast sanitaryware. Several moulds are grouped together in a 'battery' and handled as one unit. The system was invented by Shanks Ltd. of Glasgow, and developed by the Armitage-Shanks Group. Now common worldwide.

BATTING OUT Creating a bat (disk of clay body) ready for use on the jigger.

Child labour - batting out

BAXTAN (or BOXTON) Flat iron disc which is rests on a hot plate, heated by a coal fire, steam pipes or electric. Holds printers colour and keeps it warm and supple ready for use in printing from copper plates. Copper plates are also kept hot. Also hotplate for cooking oatcakes.

BAY CHUM SPIDERS Dialect. Needed to cure a headache. Sometime after a night out but more commonly as help towards curing flu. Even man flu. "Bay chum spider fur codes"

BAYCH Dialect. Where potters go for their holidays to soak up the sun. See say.

BEADED Particular type of decoration to the edge of flatware. Not spotted. Probably bigger spots than spotted. Maybe in colour or gold.

BEAKING A problem caused in soft clay during storage. "If pugged clay is stocked, it is best kept in covered compartments, lined with slabs of plaster which should be kept moist, this is to keep it in condition, preventing the clay from 'beaking' on the surface".  From:  PRACTICAL TREATISE ON THE MANUFACTURE OF POTTERY by John Gater, Consultant Potter, 1921

BEANS Small lumps of coal of a particular dimension.

BEAR Dialect - part of the phrase "conna bear him".  Don't like him (dunna lark im)

BECK Peak of a cap.

BECK SIDE Posh bottom.

BEATING BOARD Equipment. Board for wedging on to.

BEDDER Occupation. Ovens department. Placer who beds flatware in a bed of ground silica sand for earthenware, calcined and ground flint or alumina powder for china.

BEDDER Equipment. Ovens department. A small tool used by the bedder during bedding. The tool has the shape of the backside of the flatware to be placed. He used the bedder to indent the bedding material so that the flatware nests neatly and accurately into it. During firing the bedding material supports the flatware to prevent it from warping and becoming crooked.

BEDDING Process. Ovens department. Placing pottery flatware on a bed of ground silica sand for earthenware, calcined and ground flint or alumina powder for bone china. Gives support to the ware during firing to reduce warping and crookedness. A layer of powdered material was laid into the saggar. The flatware was then pressed into it so that it was firm and another layer of material was added on top. Another plate was pushed on top and then so on until the saggar was full.

BEEHIVE KILN Downdraught kiln used mainly for the firing of bricks, tiles, and large ceramic pieces. The kiln has a domed roof and a perforated floor under which ran flues leading to the separate chimney stack. The circular or 'beehive' kiln had a capacity of about 12,000 bricks. Originally coal was lit and burned fiercely inside the eight firemouths around the outside of the oven. Later gas or heavy oil was used as a fuel. Hot gases were directed upward from mouths through bags (small chimneys inside the oven itself) and then downwards from the underside of the dome and through the contents being fired into the under-floor flues, pulled by the draught from the separate chimney.

Downdraught beehive kiln. Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent
Note separate chimney on right.
Daniel Platt & Sons, brick & tile manufacturers.
The Perry Family firing the kiln.
Source: unknown Date: some time before 1935 

BEET Dialect. See baiting.

BELFAST SINK Sanitaryware for domestic or commercial use. Deep, oblong sink, and thick-sided, made from traditional fireclay, covered in white engobe, glazed and fired. From around the year 2000 sinks were made in fine fireclay. At Twyford's fireclay factory in Stoke-on-Trent a standard sized Belfast sink measuring 24 x18 x10 inches was known as a jomuk.

Belfast Sink 1934 - notice the overflow
A London sink is a similar shape but without an overflow
An Edinburgh sink is a different product completely!

A fat, narrow necked, salt-glazed bottle or jug, usually decorated with a bearded face on the narrow neck. Named after Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542 - 1621)

BELLEEK WARE A distinctive type of pottery made at Belleek, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The factory was established in 1857 and the ware is characterized by its thinness and slightly iridescent surface; the body contains a significant proportion of frit.

BELLY WOBBLING Process. Potting department. Clay end. Nudging a recently filled mould to remove air bubbles from the mould surface. With the your belly. Beer drinkers are good at this.

BELT KILN Equipment. Type of kiln. Tunnel kiln for glost or enamel (decoration) fire. The ware is carried through the tunnel and its firing chamber on a heat resistant mesh belt.

BELTER Good one. Nice one. Super one. Bass is a belter of  a beer! Titanic Ales, brewed in Burslem (Boslem) , Stoke-on-Trent, is rather good too. Good beers create good belly wobblers - see above.

BENCH Equipment. Something to work on! Something to have your dinner on.

BENTONITE Component of pottery body recipe. Very plastic natural clay laid down after the weathering of volcanic ash. Sodium Bentonite swells greatly in water. Found mainly in the USA. Added to glaze to stop sedimentation or to clay body to add plasticity. Remarkable bonding properties.

BERYL WARE Particular brand of pottery manufactured by Woods.  Popular at the time but not my cup of tea.

Woods.  Beryl Ware. 1940s 

BEST A grade or standard of potteryFirst quality pottery. Good ware. But there is no such thing as a perfect pot since since this is the very nature of pottery. Best is not as good as EXTRA BEST

The description or classification of the quality of pottery ware - the eight (or more) grades of pottery quality:
  • EXTRA BEST - Better than best quality. First first quality? But still not perfect perfect - see BEST.
  • BEST - First quality pottery. Good ware. Sometimes called FIRSTS. But there is no such thing as a perfect pot since every piece will always have some sort of slight blemish - this is the very nature of pottery.
  • BEST SECOND - Not bad enough to be a SECOND and not good enough to be best.
  • SECONDS - Imperfect pottery. Not BEST and not THIRDS or LUMP! Slightly blemished or faulty and sold at a slight discount.
  • WORST SECONDS - Sometimes called WORSER SECONDS. Slightly more imperfect than SECONDS. Then there was a DEGREE WORSER which was worse than WORST SECONDS. Or even WORSER WORSER. But not THIRDS, just yet.
  • THIRDS - This signifies that the ware is well below the usual BEST standard, and not even good enough to fall within the description of SECONDS. But better than LUMP. The ware was/is still marketable, however, and was sold to hawkers or market stall holders for sale on the 'stones'. Badly twisted ware, crooked holloware, nipped ware and whirler plates fall into this category.
  • LUMP - Massively faulty pottery. So bad that it is worse than WORSER SECONDS. Or even THIRDS. This is almost, but not quite, the lowest quality of ware that leaves any potbank, and usually it is ware that has just managed to escape being deliberately smashed. Whilst there may have been possibilities in some china shops of disposing of SECONDS, or even THIRDS the risk of dealing in LUMP is "too great to be incurred lightheartedly." Top-end, high-grade potbanks see to it that LUMP is sent to the shraff tip, "in spite of the fact that enquiries were freely received from the poorer districts or export for mixed grades of lump."  Usually, about 100 years later,  lump re-appears on TV shows as 'rare and valuable.'  That’s irony!
  • PITCHER Worse than lump. To be thrown away. Broken. Useless. But strangely saleable, at a price, in some quarters!
Also note this additional description of faulty pot: CRACK CRACKED and SOUND CRACKED Pottery which was found to be cracked after its glost firing was usually scrapped as useless. It was described as LUMP or PITCHER and usually sent to the shraff tip. However, some entrepreneurs in the industry were able to make money from selling cracked pottery - depending on how cracked it really was! Here, to explain is a quote from Brian Milner. He was one of those entrepreneurs in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. "We used to buy China teacups from Ridgways. These were termed "crack cracked" and "sound cracked". I am not kidding. They were [packed] 40 dozen in a teachest and we used to buy about 12 chests every 2 weeks. We would sound every one of the "crack cracked" and find a lot of sound ones which we used to decorate and we were still able to sell the really cracked to market men."

BEST SECOND A grade or standard of pottery. See above

BEST GOLD Material used during decoration. Sometimes known as burnish gold. Applied by pencil (potters name for a brush) or litho as a suspension of gold dust in oils, mercury salt, and flux (bismuth). After firing, the gold decoration looks dull and lifeless but it is made brilliant and bright by burnishing with a blood stone, agate or steel. Also sometimes scoured or burnished with very fine silica sand.

BIDLE A saggar. Equipment. A saggar with a particular shape and used for a particular purpose in a bottle oven during firing. one of many different shapes.

BILL JO NICE Dialect. Housing self build.

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BINDER Component of pottery body or glaze recipe. The additive is designed to strengthen the body or glaze during the dry stage or to make it more durable to withstand handling during processing.

BISCUIT Biscuit ware is pottery which has been fired once, but is not yet glazed. Biscuit ware can feel dry and slightly coarse, just like the baked crisp unleavened bread of the same name.  Biscuit is the fired clay piece with sufficient strength to allow it to be stored, glazed or decorated and fired again. Jasper and Parian wares are left purposely in their 'biscuit' state, unglazed, but they are of a particular ceramic recipe called stoneware which is particularly strong and non-porous. Earthenware biscuit is porous. Biscuit firing temperature? Earthenware is fired at around 1100°C to 1150°C, Bone China around 1200°C to 1250°C.

BISCUIT FIRING The first firing of the body in a multiple firing process, and before decorating of glazing.

BISCUIT BEDDER Occupation. Ovens department. A placer who beds (places) individual clay pieces into saggars before they are placed (or set in) the oven for firing. A bedder will be skilled and Bone China placing.

BISCUIT BRUSH Equipment. Stiff-ish long-bristled bristle brush used in the biscuit warehouse for brushing the fired ware to remove the silica sand used during placing.

Photo courtesy Gladstone Pottery Museum Tools Collection

BISCUIT WAREHOUSE Ovens department.  The warehouse in which biscuit ware is sorted, selected and stored then passed on for glazing or decorating.

BISCUIT PLACER - CHINAWARE Occupation. Ovens department. A different skill is required for placing (bedding) bone china flatware than earthenware flatware. The two bodies react differently (they shrink and distort differently under high temperature) in the bottle oven (or modern kiln) during firing so bone china flatware is individually bedded in alumina powder to prevent warping. This is not required in earthenware placing.

BISCUIT PLACER - EARTHENWARE Occupation. Ovens department. A very different skill from that used by a china placer. See directly above.

BISQUE Clay piece when it has been fired once to give it sufficient strength to be glazed or decorated. Not a term that is found in use on a potbank since it would be regarded as a 'foreign' word and too posh! The usual word on a potbank is 'biscuit' (see above)

BIT CLAY A particular pottery body recipe. "Common moco body or dirty clay from the common bank"  May have been used in a similar way to bitstone, see below.

Page from Thomas Grocott’s recipe note book.
(Spode factory, Stoke)  1820s
Peg or Stilt clay, Wad clay, Bit clay

Transcription of above recipe book:

Peg or Stilt Clay
16 pail full Black Clay Slip
2 pail full Flint

Wad Clay
2 Barrow full of Nockings from Common slip house
1 Barrow full Tough Tom

Bit Clay
Common Moco [?] Body or dirty Clay from Common Bank

BITS Material. Pre-cast clay pieces used during bitting in. May be peculiar to Enoch Wedgwood 1980s.

BITS Clay left-overs which have been fettled from cast pieces or left over from casting or turning. Sometimes known as 'casting slip scraps' and they were returned to the casting slip blunger for recycling. Casting slip was a different consistency to slip in general, as it contained sodium silicate.

BITSTONE Material. Ovens department. Saggar making. A foundation of rough crushed calcined flint chips spread in the bottom of glost saggars to allow the placing of holloware directly on the saggar base without the need for stilts or spurs or saddles.

BITTINESS Glaze fault. Small imperfections in the glaze surface makes the glaze look and feel slightly rough to the touch. Sometimes caused by poor sieving of the glaze.

BIT BOX  See bitting box below.  

BITTING BOX Equipment. (May be peculiar to Enoch Wedgwood 1980s.) Bits of clay left-overs which have been fettled from cast pieces or left over from casting or turning were thrown into the bitting box before being returned to the sliphouse for reuse by blunging with a new batch of slip.

BITTING EDGE  Sometimes known as the scrapping edge. The edge of a plate mould, shaped for the easy removal of the dried left over scraps of clay remaining on the edge of jiggered flatware.

Bitting edge of a plate mould.

BITTING EDGE DEPARTMENT  Clay end. Flatware making. May be peculiar to the Spode factory, Stoke. In the plate making department. Plates, both round or shaped. Where the remaining clay from the jiggering process is removed from the edge of the piece when the mould is removed. (Many thanks to Catharine Sheppard, on Facebook, for help with this one. April 2016)

From: 1954 Spode Saga, page 14

BITTING EDGE TOOL  Equipment used in the Bitting Edge Department in the clay end.  Used in the removal of excess clay from the edge of the of freshly made and dried plates on moulds, by jiggering. (Many thanks to Catharine Sheppard, on Facebook, for help with this one. April 2016)

BITTING IN Process. Casting. Filling in the dimple or hole created by the cast-on handle on the inside of a hollow cast pot. May be peculiar to Enoch Wedgwood 1980s.

BITTY Faulty ware found during glost selection. Can be due to clay "bits" in the fired glaze or on the surface of the ware, under the glaze. When in the glaze, it's usually when the ware is not biscuit fired prior to glazing. The raw clay sometimes breaks in the dipping tub and is deposited on other ware when carried by the glaze. (This Potbank Dictionary definition was supplied courtesy of Marcus Auralius on Facebook, 5 March 2016. Thank you!) Also see bittiness above.

BLAB Dialect. Meaning to blurt it out.

BLACK BASALT Type of pottery with a particular recipe and requiring particular firing conditions. Black and vitreous stoneware. Contains iron oxide and manganese dioxide to create the colour.. A type of ceramic artware introduced in 1776/1768 by Josiah Wedgwood. The body is black and vitreous, iron oxide and manganese dioxide being added to achieve this. Composition is 47% ball clay, 3% china clay, 40% ironstone and 10% MnO.

Black basalt bust of Shakespeare.
Wedgwood. 1970 

BLACK POTTERY  Not Black Basalt and not common on a potbank.  Traditional craft pottery where the pots are turned black by cutting out the oxygen at the end of the firing. In an open firing this is done by smothering the fire with fine dung, or damp grass and then possibly pieces of metal sheeting. Sometimes the pots are taken out of the fire or kiln and plunged into grass, sawdust or dung. Black pottery is to be found in many places in Africa, among Pueblo potters of the USA, in Mexico, Colombia, Denmark and Central Europe.

BLACK PRINTING Decoration.  Decorating of the late 18th Century. For example used by Wedgwood on creamware.

BLACK SPECK  Fault. A fault on pottery generally caused by small particles of iron or its compounds.

BLART Dialect. Summat wrong if the kid is crying so much. A mard arse will blart a lot.

BLEB Body fault. A raised blister on the surface of faulty pottery. Also found on saggars. An air bubble in the body. A pimple. A blob.

BLEND and BLENDING Process. Mixing or agitating the ingredients of a pottery recipe to form a slip. Name also used for mixing plaster powder in water. Usually carried out in a mixing vessel, vat or blunger.

BLEU PERSAN Form of decoration of a semi-Oriental character. Painted in opaque white over an enamel stained dark blue. Developed at Nevers in France, and imitated in England.

BLIB or BLIBBED Body fault. An air bubble in the body of a new saggar. May be attributed to poor saggar clay but also a sure sign that the bottle oven has been started off to quickly and over baited at the beginning.

BLIP Body fault. An air bubble in the body. May be created as casting slip is being poured into a plaster mould.

BLISTER Pottery body fault or glaze fault. An air bubble in the body. Sometimes created in the glaze due to over glazing or severe over-firing which can cause the glaze to boil and create bubbles, some of which burst to form a crater. The surface of the glaze is very unpleasant and looks like a boiled mass of bubbles, craters and pinholes.

Blisters - a glaze fault
Blisters - a glaze fault

BLOAT Pottery body fault. A very big blister or bulge. An air bubble in the body caused by gas bubbles forming and getting trapped under the surface of the piece by the vitrifying clay during firing.


The negative (or the female) mould made from the original positive model. Also called the master mould.
Positive = MODEL

Negative = BLOCK - The Master Mould, formed from the model

Positive = CASE - similar to the original model but formed from the BLOCK

Negative = WORKING MOULD formed from the case

The positive = CAST PIECE

BLOCK-CUTTER  Occupation. The craftsman who prepared the block mould in the days when the first 'master mould' was carved in alabaster or some similar material. From this an impression was taken in clay, fired, salt-glazed, and subsequently used for creating porous working moulds of plaster of paris.

BLOCK HANDLE Particular design of handle on a piece. Attached to the side of the piece across its whole length. Compare this with an open handle which is attached to the piece at the top and bottom of the handle, only.

BLOCK PRINTING Method of decoration. A technique known to be used used at the Minton and Doulton factories but full details not known.

BLOODSTONE Form of chalcedony (which is a cryptocrystalline mixture of quartz and its monoclinic polymorph moganite). The 'classic' bloodstone is green chalcedony with red inclusions of iron oxide or red jasper. Used in the pottery industry as a burnishing tool for burnishing edges and lines and handles to make the gold line shine brilliantly.

BLOWED Process. Coloured enamel or glaze sprayed onto a pot using a spray gun with compressed air. Such decorations are sometimes said to be 'aerographed'. Large surfaces of colour, either solid or shaded, can readily be applied by this means. Spraying is a cheaper method of applying colour than by ground laying. (Source: Adderley Pottery pattern book, 1904)

BLOWER Sliphouse problem. Leak in the filter press. Under pressure, clay slip will squirt from the leak. May be peculiar to Enoch Wedgwood, Tunstall.

BLOWN, BLOWED or BLOWN alternative words to AEROGRAPHING Process. Spraying coloured enamel or glaze onto a pot using a spray gun with compressed air. Large surfaces of colour, either solid or shaded, can readily be applied by this means. Spraying is a cheaper method of applying colour than by ground laying. (Source: Adderley Pottery pattern book, 1904)

BLUE PRINT Type of decoration. Usually underglaze. Usually referred to as transferware in the US. Transferware Collectors Club here>

Blue print - Willow pattern

BLUNGE To mix materials with water thoroughly to produce an homogeneous mix.

BLUNGER Equipment. Machine. Mixing tanks for the preparation of the pottery body. Contains slip. Usually hexagonal in shape to assist the mixing of the ingredients. Consists internally of a central shaft with attached paddles which rotate at speed to mix and blend the slip.

Two blungers in a sliphouse

What a blunger at Gladstone Pottery Museum
sounds like. April 2019

The Blunger
From Wedgwood Series
22 postcards displaying pottery manufacture
 at Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Ltd.
Etruria Works, Stoke-on-Trent
early 20th Century

BLUNGING Process. Mixing the constituents of the body recipe with water by vigorous rotating action in a blunger. Creating a clay slip of consistent quality throughout is essential to the manufacture of a good pot. Proper blunging and aging is essential to obtain a consistent casting slip.

BLUNGED UP Mixed up. Mixed together. Presumably in a blunger.

BLUSHING Glaze fault. Pink discolouration occurring during glost fire. Caused by traces of chrome in the kiln atmosphere.

BOARD Equipment. Wareboard. Used in most departments of a potbank. About 6 feet long, 9 inches wide and 1 inch deep. Made of good quality pine. Simply a board or plank with rounded corners to carry ware about the potbank. Carried on one shoulder and supported with one hand, requiring some balancing skills and a lot of confidence.

BOARD WASHER Equipment. Machine designed to wash ware boards. Consisting of two rotating brushes in the centre of the machine which pulls in each dirty ware board, sprays it with water and passes it through the brushes to clean off dirt. Dirt is an enemy in a potbank.

Gladstone Pottery Museum - Board Washer sign

Gladstone Pottery Museum - Board Washer machine

BOB ON Dialect. A good one.

BOBBER Pyrometric device. See BOBS below.

BOBBS Three lumps of clay? Used early 17thC ?

BOBS Pottery glaze trials placed in the bottle oven. Extracted at intervals during the firing to observe progress. Sometimes called bobbers.

BOCAGES  Decoration. Tree or foliage backgrounds, used extensively by pottery figure makers of nineteenth century, notably Enoch Wood, John Walton, Ralph Salt, Ralph Hall Charles Tittensor, etc.

BOCO Dialect. Head. 'Bonk him on the boco'.  Meaning hit him on the head.

  • BODY The material from which the pottery piece is made.
  • BODY The clay part of the pot.  Excluding other parts such as glaze or decoration.
  • BODY A blend of raw materials, according to a pottery recipe, in plastic or slip form.

BODY STAIN Ceramic pigment used to colour the body. Firing will mature the pigment.

BOG Not just Potteries slang but a common UK slang word for toilet or WC. Not commonly used in the USA.

BOG STANDARD  Completely ordinary, run-of-the-mill, unadulterated, unmodified. Originally from "British Or German standard", from a time when engineers wanting a certain quality would make such a specification.

BOKE Dialect. Slang. When you see something that annoys or irritates you.  'Eats boking may!' To balk or hinder you.

BOMB Equipment on a Murray Curvex machine. Large, almost hemispherical pad of silicone rubber or, originally gelatine,  which transfers colour from an engraved copper plate to the pot in the MURRAY-CURVEX printing process.

BONE or BONE ASH Component of pottery body recipe. Calcined animal bone, usually cattle bones, preferably Ox shin bones. White creamy powder. Essential ingredient of English Bone China. About 50% of the bone china body recipe consists of this calcined animal bone, The remaining 50% being largely made up of china clay and Cornish stone. It is the bone which gives bone china its brilliant whiteness and translucency. Bone ash consists mainly of calcium phosphate and bone china acts as a flux, improving whiteness and imparting translucency.

BONE CHINA Smooth textured and extremely white firing pottery body.  Translucent and very strong. It is unique in that it contains a high proportion of calcined bone ash and biscuit fires at approx 1220°C. A type of porcelain. Around fifty percent of the body recipe contains calcined cattle bones. Invented at the Spode factory in Stoke-on-Trent around 1800. The recipe contains about 50% calcined cattle bone, 25% china clay and 25% china stone. The bone used at Spode was more specifically the shins and knuckle bones of oxen. (Lower grades of bone china, not from Spode, may have used all or some bones from sheep or goats.  But definitely not horses.)  The bones are calcined at temperatures up to 1000°C before being ground to a fine powder and used in the bone china recipe. Bone china is extremely hard and intensely white. First or biscuit firing at 1200°C to 1300°C. Second or glost firing 1050°C to 1100°C.

Bone would originally have been sourced locally, Hanley Meat Market was suggested as a source. But when anthrax became a concern bone was sourced from overseas with the deglutinisation being carried out there and the risk thus being removed. Latterly bone came in from Southern Ireland, Argentina, Holland, Sweden, Pakistan, India, Egypt and China.

Spode bone china dessert plate from a set featuring botanical studies
This is ‘Strip’d Rose’   c1810

Bone China: a Particularly English Porcelain

The Invention of Bone China:  The Spode company, under Spode I and Spode II, is credited by potters, collectors, researchers and other experts with having perfected the bone china formula before 1800. More here>

Movie: How Bone China slip is blunged (mixed) by Valentine Clays

Body No.6 1820s
  • 160 parts Blue Clay
  • 240 parts Cornwall Clay
  • 360 parts Cornwall Stone
  • 160 parts Flint
  • 400 parts Bone
Total 920 parts - therefore animal bone comprises 43% of this particular body recipe

BONE MILL A bone mill's purpose was to grind calcined cattle bone for use in the pottery recipe. Ground, burnt bone is added to Cornish stone and china clay at the pottery factory to make bone china.

Movie: Etruria Bone Mill, Stoke-on-Trent

BONFIRE FIRING Most basic firing process where pots are fired in an open bonfire. Very hit and miss and the potter doesn't know what to expect when the fires die down. Not found on a potbank.

BONK Dialect. Steep (stape) hill.

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BONT Essential part of the construction of bottle oven. Iron hoops or bands used to brace and support the brickwork of a bottle oven. Made by a blacksmith. The wrought iron straps which encircle the potter's bottle oven. Tightened on to the walls of the oven to the brickwork greater strength and resistance to warping during firing. Usually bonts are three eighths of an inch thick and from 3 to 8 inches deep. Made of several sections, each section being attached to its neighbour by a hook and eye arrangement. Bonts are usually placed at 1 to 2 feet intervals up the wall sides of the oven but often extra bonts are used near the shoulder of the oven to support the crown. The topmost bont around the oven itself (not the hovel) was usually made deeper than the rest.

Bonts or Bontings
Wrought iron bands around the oven to keep it in shape
during the constant use in firing

BONTINGS Part of a bottle oven. Another name for bont.

BORDALOUE Ladies portable urinal. Sometimes known as a 'coach pot.' Absolutely not a gravy boat. Made in their thousands in the Staffordshire Potteries. Examples on display at Gladstone Pottery Museum, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent.

Bordaloue made by Spode - not a gravy boat.

BORSEND - see bosunt or 

BOSLUM One of the six (five) towns. Known as The Mother Town. Burslem.

  • BOSS Occupation. The person you work for.
  • BOSS Process. Decorating department. Removing brush marks during groundlaying by bossing with a silk bag stuffed with cotton wool. D
  • BOSS Process. Transfer printing shop. Bossing - in pottery decoration known as GROUND-LAYING brush marks are removed by BOSSING - striking, the ware with a pad called a Boss made by stuffing cotton wool into a silk bag.
  • BOSS Equipment. Tool. Used in engraving. A leather pad or cushion for resting a copper plate.

BOSSING  Process. In the type of pottery decoration known as GROUND-LAYING brush marks are removed by bossing - stroking the ware with a pad called a boss made by stuffing cotton wool into a silk bag.

BOSSING ON Bashing clay onto an embossed (undercut) mould.

BOST Dialect. Same as brock or brock dine or burst. Broken. A bosted pot is useless. Fact.

BOSTED Dialect. Broken.

BOSTED CLOCK Dialect. Miserable face. "Ers got a face lark a bosted clock. Err must be proper dished."

BOSTIN as in "Full ter bostin". Full to bursting. Or even bosunt

BOSUNT (BOWSUNNED) "I've eaten too much, I'm bosunt." Absolutely full of food. 

BOTH DEE Dialect. Birthday. Hoorah! Got to buy cakes for your workmates.



The word kiln is used generically to name the structure or equipment in which pottery and other ceramics are fired.

The terms, bottle oven and bottle kiln, are often used interchangeably in the north Staffordshire Potteries. To most of us they mean the same thing - a complex brick-built, bottle-shaped structure for the firing of pottery or associated materials. Most of us assume them to be the same and to do the same job. And although both bottle ovens and bottle kilns have that curious bottle-shaped chimney, and both were fired with coal, there is an important technical difference between the two.

"The most notable feature of the Potteries skyline and nobody knew how they got there." 

Within the north Staffordshire pottery industry, the term bottle oven meant the potter's biscuit or glost oven which was fired with coal which produced long flames that passed from the firemouths directly into the firing chamber to envelop the contents. The pottery inside the chamber needed to be protected from the flames, gases, smoke, sulphur fumes, ashes and dust (the products of combustion) in fireclay boxes called saggars. They were either updraught or downdraught:

  • Updraught - the heat rises up through the setting and out through the top of the firing chamber and upwards through its bottle-shaped chimney and into the atmosphere.
  • Downdraught - here the heat is effectively used twice  - rising first through the setting from the firemouths and then being deflected downwards through the setting once more before being exhausted. 

There were other types of bottle ovens which included patented two-storey structures and salt glazing ovens.  Temperatures typically around 1000°C to 1400°C (1800°F to 2550°F) were reached in bottle ovens.

Bottle ovens at Gladstone Pottery Museum >

A bottle kiln was completely different from an bottle oven, and there are two types.

  • The muffle kiln was constructed in such a way that the products of combustion were prevented from entering the firing chamber. Flames and the associated pollution were circulated through enclosed flues which surrounded the firing chamber. The pottery placed inside the chamber was thus kept away from the filth of fire and did not need to be protected in saggars. Muffle kilns were used for 'hardening-on' underglaze transferware and for firing onglaze enamel decoration. Temperatures typically around 700°C to 850°C (1300°F to 1560°F) were reached in muffle kilns. 
  • The calcining kiln was used to process some of the materials used in the pottery body recipe. For example, flint pebbles or animal bones were calcined in kilns to make them friable and soft, enabling them to be crushed and ground ready for use.  Calcining kilns had a tall bottle-shaped chimney and no hovel.  Calcining kilns were built and used by some of the larger potbanks. Others were used by specialist material suppliers.
1) Alfred Clough, the 'fireman' responsible for the Last Bottle Oven Firing in The Potteries in 1978. He was a local pottery manufacturer and at one time owned over 30 pottery factories. 
2) In 1921 Ernest Sandeman described the various types of oven and kiln in his book 'Notes on the Manufacture of Earthenware'

What are bottle ovens and kilns?

What are bottle ovens and kilns?
Bottle Oven Mug - fine English bone china.
Illustration on one side, description on the other.
Made in Stoke-on-Trent
Available to purchase from the manufacturer

And here is a really good and succinct description, of the bottle oven and bottle kiln. Courtesy of  Gladstone Pottery Museum, Longton. (Link to their site > https://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/gpm/

Bottle oven is a generic term applied to a variety of brick-built, coal-fired ovens and kilns used in the north Staffordshire pottery industry. The name derives from the characteristic shape of the hovel or stack utilised by such structures, but covers a range of different types, some of which fired wares to a biscuit or glost state (these were known locally as ovens), with others (specifically referred to as kilns in the Potteries) used in the decorating process (muffle kilns), or the preparation of raw materials for ceramic bodies (calcining kilns) or glazes and colours (frit kilns). There was also variation in the means of construction. For example, not all types had independent hovels, many being enclosed within buildings and having the stack (which equated to the ‘neck’ of the bottle) constructed directly on top of the firing chamber or supported on an outer ‘skeleton’ structure. In addition, by the late 19th century, both up- and down-draught (in which heat was re-circulated around the firing chamber) types were in use within the industry.

How to fire a bottle oven

Simply put, firing an updraught oven, a downdraught oven or a muffle kiln involved three main procedures:
  • Placing
  • Firing
  • Drawing

Click here for more general details about the Potteries Bottle Oven

BOTTOM CLAY Type of saggar marl. Made with a higher concentration of grog to make the clay a little stronger at the bottom of the saggar than the side clay.

BOTTOM HEATH  (not sure what this means)

BOTTOMING Deep cleaning. "Getting to the bottom of the job" Spring cleaning. Nothing left un-turned, hoovered or washed!

BOTTOM KNOCKING Process. Ovens department. During saggar making. Flattening a ball of saggar clay into a bat using a mawl to knock the clay into a former made from a ring of iron.  The bat of clay is used for the bottom of a saggar.

Saggar making - bottom knocking
Bottom knocking

BOTTOMS The lowest part of the oven. The floor or the saggars resting on the floor.

BOULDER CLAY Clay with origins in the glacial era so it contains boulders from the size of a small pebble right up to a massive sized chunks of rock. The clay itself is finely textured - ground and weathered during transportation in glaciers. Full of impurities so very unreliable and with mixed properties. Generally low temperature firing.

BOW Dialect. A ball. "Cost kick a bow agen a wow an yed it till eat bosses?"

BOWKS Equipment. Old slip measure. Peculiar to Josiah Wedgwood and Sons Ltd. (Wedgwood Review March 1958).

BOWL Part of a flint calcining oven. the bowl which held the flint pebbles during the calcining fire.

BOWL BODY Material. Particular type of clay body recipe.  (more details needed)

BOWL PINS Kiln furniture. Special small refractory-ceramic pins designs to allow the stacking of bowls for glost firing without each piece touching it's neighbour. 

BOWSUNNED or BOSUNT or BORSEND "I've eaten too much, I'm bowsunned." Absolutely full of food or "Full ter bostin."

BOXED CUPS Cups, in the clay state, prepared for firing. "... the rim of one cup was dipped into Gum Arabic and the rims [top edges] of 2 cups stuck together." Prevents the rims from distorting and buckling during the fire (Thanks to Alan Hopwood Jan 2021 for the description) 

Boxed cups

In the days of firing with coal in bottle ovens "These cups were then placed into green saggars and the saggars put right at the top of the [bungs in the] kiln to fire them and the cups fired just right."

BOX HARRY Potteries dialect word. To do as you like.

BOX RIM Sanitaryware. Type of flushing rim on a toilet which spreads flushing water from the cistern into and around the bowl in a controlled manner in order to make the best use of the available water. Less splashing than open rim.

BOXING Process. Warehouse. Gift packaging pottery for special promotions. 

BOXING Process. Ovens department. Placing Method for placing clay cups prior to firing. Cups go rim to rim to help prevent distortion during the fire.

BOZLUM or BOSLUM One of the six (five) towns. Known as The Mother Town. Burslem.

BRAHMAH Dialect. Large glass marble for playing shotties. (Word courtesy of Joy Green, March 2104) 

BRAT Potteries dialect word. Waistcoat. 

BREAKSUFF Potteries dialect word. Breakfast 

BREATHING Pottery fault. Found in vitreous china  sanitaryware. Sometimes known as spangling and appears as tiny pinpricks in the glaze surface and is often only seen when lit from a certain angle  Breathing is caused by gas escaping to the glaze surface during firing and is most common in the bowls of vitreous china washbasins. It appears as tiny pin-pricks in the glaze surface and is often only apparent when illuminated from a certain angle. 

BRESSES Potteries dialect word. Breasts. "Nice bresses on that!" 

BRICK A moulded or extruded rectangular block of clay, fired in a kiln until hard, and used as a building and paving material.

BRICK KILN (coal fired) A kiln, usually free standing and sometimes outside where it is exposed to all weathers, had a domed roof and a perforated floor under which ran exit flues leading to the separate chimney. Coal was kindled (lit) and burned fiercely inside the firemouths around the outside of the oven. Hot gases were directed upward from mouths through bags (small chimneys inside the kiln itself) and then downwards from the underside of the crown (domed roof) through the setting and into the under-floor flues, pulled by the draught from the separate chimney. The downdraught 'beehive kiln' would have a capacity of about 12,000 bricks, or up to 30,000 floor tiles.

The firing cycle took around two weeks: two days for setting (stacking and filling), three days for the water smoking period to drive off any moisture left in the bricks or tiles, two days for firing to full temperature, one day soak at full heat, then another three or four days to cool down and a further day to draw (empty).

Round downdraught brick kiln
 also known as a 'beehive kiln'


BRIGHT GOLD Material used during decoration. Also called liquid gold. Less expensive than best or burnish gold. A solution of gold sulphoresinate and other metal resinates with flux. It develops to a bright and shining surface during firing in the decorating kiln and requires no further processing or burnishing.

BRITISH STANDARD SHOVEL BS 3388:2004 Forks, shovels and spades. Alfred Clough always said that a No.8 shovel is "comfy" to use during the baiting process (shovelling coal onto the firemouth of an oven). He regarded the larger No.10 shovel as "too clumsy."

BROADBACK Type of fireclay or refractory brick. Used in the construction of a pottery bottle oven. Measuring "a brick and a half" and used in the oven bottoms, resting on the medfeathers. (Alfred Clough quote. Feb 1978)

BROKES  Term used in the English ball-clay mines for clay that will not cut into balls; such clay is generally of low plasticity and poor fired colour.

BROCK Potteries dialect word. Broken. Broke. Similar to bost or bosted.

BROCK DINE Potteries dialect word. The car refuses to start, damn it. May be its jiggered or even buggered.

BROKES Type of clay. Ball clay which has low plasticity and poor fired colour. Difficult to cut into balls.

BROWN BETTY Teapot. A particular and 'traditional' style of teapot since about 1700 "Succeeding generations of Englishmen have proved that Brown Betty teapots make the best pot of tea in the world! The shape of the pot causes the tea leaves to be gently swirled around as the boiling water is added, thus producing an exquisite infusion. The Red Terracotta Clay with its Rockingham Glaze, coddles the brew and gives the perfect cup of tea. These teapots also keep the water hotter for longer." Quote courtesy Adderley Ceramics, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent 2019

Description of manufacturing at Adderley Ceramics Ltd

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Dialect. Brought, when it's in the past tense. Or bring when used in the present tense.

BRUSHING Process. Biscuit warehouse. Removal of bedding material (such as sand) from pottery after the biscuit fire. Some bedding material - sand or alumina dust - stick to the biscuit pieces and needs large revolving brushes to remove it.

BUGGERED Worn out; broken; thwarted, undermined, in a predicament.

BUGGERED UP  "I'm tired and I want to go to bed."  See jiggered.

BUGGERT Potteries dialect word. Same as buggered. Or jiggered.

BULLERS GAUGE Used to measure fired Bullers rings. The Bullers Ring Box. The reading gives an indication of the progress of the firing.


Bullers ring being measured

BULLERS RINGS Equipment. Used during firing. Pyrometric device used to measure the heatwork (the combined effect of both time and temperature) when firing materials inside the oven. Bullers rings do not measure temperature but show how well the fire has progressed, the intention being to visually communicate intensity of fire within the ware. Flat and hollow centered (a bit like a big giant Polo mint). A gauge is used to measure the fired ring. Various grades of ring, each of slightly different compositions, are available to cover all firing conditions and temperatures.

BULL NOSED Particular shape of brick used during the building of a bottle oven to provide a decoration at the very top of neck of the oven's stack. Also called pig nosed.

Bull nose bricks decorate the top of the bottle oven

BULL WICK Potteries dialect word. Bull week is the week before, the week before a holiday week. So two weeks before a holiday week, piece workers and day wage workers (if they can get overtime) will maximise their earnings as much as possible in order to create the biggest pay packet just before going on holiday. Potters are paid a week in hand.

BUN Potteries dialect word. Constipated.

BUNG Vertical piles of almost anything on a potbank are called bungs. Most often applied to a pile of saggars in the bottle oven, or a pile of ware in the warehouse. In a pile of saggars in the oven ready for firing the the top rim of each saggar has a wad or roll of wad clay to give each saggar a firm seat on the one below.  The wad also sealed the saggar to prevent the products of combustion entering and spoiling the ware it contained.

Bungs of saggars in the bottle oven, just placed

BUNK Potteries dialect word. To run off.

BUNTERS Fireworks! Most usually bangers.

BURIN Equipment. Decorating Department.Engraving tool. Tool for hand engraving copper plates for the printing process. Tool has V - shaped section used to engrave lines on a copper plate to create part of the decoration.

BURLEIGH WARE Trade name for a product from Burgess and Leigh Ltd., Middleport Pottery > by the canal, Middleport, near Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent

http://www.middleportpottery.co.uk/ > Worth a look!


BURNISHING Process. Clay end. Verb. Polishing leather hard clay by rubbing with a smooth stone or back of a spoon.  Rubbing the surface of the clay piece until it becomes semi-glossy. Can take several hours depending on the state of drying of the clay piece.

BURNISHING Process. Decorating shop. Polishing dull overglaze colours, gold or lustres after firing in order to increase their brilliancy. Various methods are used, the simplest being rubbing the surface with a stipple brush dipped in very fine silver sand, or by rubbing with a burnishing stone. The process was slow and expensive so bright gold was introduced as a non-burnished alternative. Burnishing tools in agate, stone or steel may also be used. In some potbanks burnishing is sometimes called sanding or scouring.

Burnishing tools

BURNISHING TOOLS - Decorating shop.
  • Bloodstones for burnishing edges and lines and handles where gilding is solid.
  • Agates for burnishing areas which cannot be touched or reached with a bloodstone eg. behind handle, under knobs, in grooves and deep edges, or embossments.
  • Emery powder used on a thick leather piece on which the tool is rubbed to regain smoothness.
  • Shellac used for fixing the stone into the ferrule.
(Information from Colin Fletcher of Spode via Robert Copeland Mar 1985)

Images of Burnishing Tools here>  

BURNISHER Occupation. Decorating shop. The person who rubs fired gold, to make it shine, using various types of burnishing tool.

BURNISHER'S PUTTY TIN Decorating shop. Burnisher's putty was used in the process of cleaning and maintaining burnishing tools. Burnishers purchased their own tools, which were expensive, so maintaining them was very important. Burnishing putty would be used with a putty strap in the first stage of cleaning a burnishing tool. The putty (or browning) would be placed on the strap. The burnishing tool would then be rubbed vigorously on the strap to remove gold particles. A second stage of cleaning then took place, which more thoroughly cleaned the bloodstone or agate head. This involved another strap and a substance called potash feldspar (or whiting). The whiting was sprinkled on the strap and the tool rubbed vigorously to the required finish.

Burnisher's Putty Tin
Image source: Staffordshire Past Track

BURNISH GOLD Material used during the decoration process. Sometimes known as 'best gold.' Applied by pencil (potter's name for a brush) or litho as a suspension of gold dust in oils, mercury salt, and flux (bismuth). After firing the gold decoration looks dull and lifeless but it is made brilliant and bright by burnishing with a blood stone, agate or steel. Was also sometimes burnished with very fine silica sand.

BURSLEM WARE General term used to described ware manufactured in Burslem. The term is used differently in different eras. When used in the 17th Century the term would have referred to the staple product of the early pottery industry, items such as butter pots. These were made from local clays in Burslem. (Burslem was really where the industry started - hence the name The Mother Town.) The term was also used by Doulton in the early 20th Century to differentiate the Burslem manufactured products from the Lambeth products. It is also used by some to distinguish Burslem Art Pottery by Doulton. Burslem Pottery is a current brand name for a pottery manufacturing in Burslem today.

Vestal Shaving-Soap Vase and Cold Cream Soap 1897 in Burslem Ware

BUTTERBOARE A butterpot tester (from Plot's Staffordshire).

BUTTERFLY Glaze fault. Created during dipping, usually on holloware items and found inside where an air pocket prevents liquid glaze from fully coating the clay. Sometimes the shape of the bare patch looks like a butterfly. May be peculiar to Josiah Wedgwood. 1976.

BUTTER POT  Earthenware pot. Tall and cylindrical, made to contain 14lbs.
of butter. They were made at Burslem for use at Uttoxeter market, where butter
was sold by the pot. An Act of Parliament was passed in 1661 regulating abuses of the trade, both in the manner of making the pots and packing the butter.

Butter pots

Butter pot on display at
Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent
Date: Feb 2020

BUZZED Dialect. Late for work. "Sorry boss, I was buzzed." See also franked.

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