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In the closing years of the eighteenth century, Josiah Spode developed the first bone china. This hybrid porcelain contains almost 50 per cent calcined bone ash as well as kaolin and feldspar. It amalgamated two earlier developments in English porcelain: bone ash, used first by the Bow manufactory; and kaolin, discovered by William Cookworthy. Bone china was soon adopted by many producers in England because wares could be made with thin, strong bodies that were more stable in the kiln and less expensive to produce.

By 1799 Joseph Poulson, the partner of Thomas Minton, began making bone china next door to Minton’s earthenware manufactory in Stoke-on-Trent. It was marketed by Minton and financed by William Pownall. Production continued until about 1816. During this period at least 948 different patterns were introduced. In 1824, a purpose-built manufactory was built by Minton who introduced an improved formula for bone china. Minton was one of the foremost and most innovative producers of ceramics in England throughout the nineteenth century.

The Gardiner Museum collection of Minton was established by N. Robert Cumming. It ranges from a deep assemblage of early patterns and shapes, through to wares of the early twentieth century.