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Ice pail

  • Place of origin:

    Derby (made)

  • Date:

    1784-85 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Soare, Thomas (enamelled)
    Derby Porcelain factory (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Soft-paste porcelain, painted in underglaze blue, enamels and gilded

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Frank and Patricia Herrmann

  • Museum number:

    C.49:1 to 3-2015

  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 139, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 4, shelf 5 []

Ice cream of the type widely eaten today was first made in Italy. It was then introduced to the French court in the 17th century, and its manufacture thereafter spread through much of western Europe. It was made by beating cream in a container that had been immersed into natural ice, the freezing properties of which had been enhanced by the addition of salt or saltpetre. It could be served in a pail like this one, which has a liner to contain the ice cream and separate it from the ice below that kept it cold; the hollow cover would also be packed with ice.

Because of the cost and prestige of the food, ice pails were an important feature of the 18th-century dessert table, and they were among the most prestigious products of the English porcelain factories. They were always made and used in pairs, but rarely survive together and complete with their liners, as here.

This pair was made at the Derby porcelain factory, and is painted with a bold Japanese pattern that appears as no 3 in the Derby ‘plate pattern’ book at Derby Museum and Art Gallery and which often occurs with a Chinese-style seal mark (a combination found on V&A plates 3368-1853 and C.339-1922, and dessert tureen C.1070-1924). These pieces, however, have the crown, D, and crossed batons mark introduced mid-1784, but no pattern number or painter’s number, which suggests a date of 1784-5. The factory mark is painted in a distinctive way that has been identified with the painter Thomas Soare.

Physical description

Ice cream pail, with cover and liner, of soft-paste porcelain. The pail is bucket-shaped and has scrolled scallop shell handles at the sides; the cover has a ring handle formed of scrolled acanthus; and the liner is u-shaped and forms a false bottom (beneath which ice would be packed). The exterior is painted in underglaze blue, enamels and gilded with a design derived from Japanese porcelain featuring a leaping animal and floral motifs in lobed cartouches.

Place of Origin

Derby (made)


1784-85 (made)


Soare, Thomas (enamelled)
Derby Porcelain factory (made)

Materials and Techniques

Soft-paste porcelain, painted in underglaze blue, enamels and gilded

Marks and inscriptions

Crown over D with crossed batons and six dots
factory mark painted in puce (see References)


Height: 24.3 cm, Width: 24.2 cm

Object history note

From the Jeanne Zorensky Collection

Descriptive line

One of a pair of ice-cream pails with liners and covers, soft-paste porcelain, painted in enamels and gilded with 'Japanese' pattern, Derby porcelain factory, probably 1784-5

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Stephen Mitchell, The Marks on Chelsea-Derby and Early Crossed-Batons Useful Wares, 2007, passim


Soft-paste porcelain


Ceramics Collection

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