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Mochaware Pottery

Mochaware is an ingenious pottery approach that dates back to the 18th century. Though today it is a term that is applied to a wide range of ceramics, true antique mochaware will always be immediately identifiable for its dendrite, or seaweed articulations, in its glazing.

Born from the immense ceramic innovations of England’s Staffordshire region, mochaware first appeared in the workshop of William Adams in the 1790s. Its premise was a unique approach to glazing ceramic vessels known as a mocha diffusion, which resulted in a branching glaze pattern similar to seaweed or coral. This pattern was achieved through the application of an acidic tobacco stain to an alkaline wet slip that coated the vessel. The tobacco mixture reacted to this slip, thus creating the branchlike articulations. Adams’ innovation proved incredibly successful, and these stylish designs were sold at remarkably reasonable prices.

In the early years of the 19th century, mochaware pieces were produced by other British and European companies. Mochaware continued to be produced until the very early years of the 20th century.

Quick Facts

  • Mochaware gets its name from moss agate, or mukha, a gemstone that that was often imported into Europe via Mocha, a vibrant port town in Yemen
  • The oldest surviving mochaware piece is a mug that bears the date 1799. It is currently the prized possession of Christchurch Mansion Museum in Ipswich, England
  • The most popular mochaware pieces were mugs and jugs, most often rendered in shade of ivory, green, and yellow

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