Royal Delft

The ceramics made in Delft since the middle of the 17th Century have gained such a reputation that the name "Delft" has become a generic name for ceramics. It signified a refining of the majolica pottery covered with an opaque white tin glaze, already made in the 16th century in low countries under Spanish and Italian influence. With their technically improved products, the Delft potters tried to compete with the Chinese pocelain , imported and marketed in the whole of Europe by the United East-Indian Company (Verenigde Oost-Indishe Compagnie) since the beginning of the 17th century. They succeeded so well, that pottery after pottery could be opened in Delft. At the end of that centery there were no less than thirty potteries.

Great collections, such as those in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam or in the Cinquantenaire Museum in Brussels give testimony to the enormous diversity and beauty of the early Delft pottery. But Delft pottery remained a ware with high porosity, even though sometimes called porcelain, and in hardness and durability it could measure up neither with the European stoneware that appeared on the market in the beginning of the 18th century. It was cheaper than porcelain, true; but from the middle of that century a greater threat to the Delft factories was formed by the English creamware pottery with it's unequalled find and bold 'body' that was moreover cheap. It was maily though the import and imitation of this popular English product that the Delft factories had to close down one by one, so that by about 1840 only one of the formerly prosperous kilns still existed, named "De Porceleyne fles" and today more flourishing than ever.

It gives a survey of continuous production during more than three hundred years, in itself a rarity in the economic history of any country. It goes without saying that this production has know it's ups and downs. Between the beginning of the 19th century until 1876, when the Delft engineer Joost Thooft took over "De Porceleyne fles" there was not a signification production of Delft ceramic.

From 1876 Joost Thooft, with the help of the faience-painter Cornelis Tulk tried resurrecting the glory of the old Delft. Today the factory "De Porceleyne fles" is still the leading producer of Delft faience.