A Fine Burgundy Papier-mâché Lacquered Tray and Base,
Impressed Clay for Henry Clay
The burgundy-ground papier mache lacquered tray is decorated with coloured and gilt leaves and butterflies. The tray rests on a contemporary double legged burgundy faux bamboo stand.
Dimensions: 24 inches x 18 1/4 inches; With Stand Height: 22 inches
Papier Mache (French for chewed paper) is believed to have got its name from French workers in London papier mache shops who did just that! Whether this is actually true or not we shall probably never know. The manufacturers didnt seem to mind this idea being put about - possibly because it gave them the chance to hide their true methods and recipes, some of which little is known about even today.
In 1740 the manufacturer John Baskerville, well known for his fine quality books and typefounding, began to imitate the lacquered pieces from Japan. This is how the term japanning came about. His business was very successful and later his assistant Henry Clay, invented a way to produce papier mache so strong that it was equally as durable as wood. He did this by gluing specially prepared paper under heat to form tough, heat resistant panels.
Henry Clay had taken out a patent on his invention, but when this ran out; small companies mushroomed, producing just about everything from papier mache. They were mostly concentrated in the Birmginham and Wolverhampton areas. It is from these companies that we get the beautifully decorated black enameled pieces that are so treasured today.
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