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Block mould

Block mould

  • Place of origin:

    Staffordshire (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1755-1765 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Wood, Aaron, born 1717 - died 1785 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Salt-glazed stoneware, formed in a plaster mould taken from a carved or modelled original

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 53a, case 1

Object Type
For each original design for moulded pottery, at least one solid salt-glazed stoneware master block-mould was produced to enable a potter to make an unlimited number of plaster-of-paris moulds. Almost indestructible, many of these block-moulds have survived. This particular example represents one of a number of designs for sauce boats, probably used mainly for gravy on the dining table.

This mould, shown together with a Longton Hall porcelain sauce-boat of the same design, combines the Rococo style copied from luxury goods such as silver with techniques of mass-production developed in Staffordshire by enterprising potters and block-makers. As an experiment in introducing commercial porcelain production to Staffordshire, the factory at Longton Hall established by William Littler (1724-1784) was perhaps premature, for Littler's rather brittle porcelain body could not compete with the more refined porcelains of Chelsea, Derby and elsewhere. After Longton Hall's closure in 1759, it was not until the founding of the New Hall factory in 1782 that porcelain, rather than pottery, was mass-produced in the Staffordshire Potteries.

Historical Associations
As part of the collection of Enoch Wood (1759-1840), the major earthenware potter in Burslem, Staffordshire, in the early 19th century, this block-mould formed part of his factory museum, which he had opened by 1816, if not earlier.

Place of Origin

Staffordshire (probably, made)


1755-1765 (made)


Wood, Aaron, born 1717 - died 1785 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Salt-glazed stoneware, formed in a plaster mould taken from a carved or modelled original


Height: 8.9 cm, Width: 18.8 cm, Depth: 10.8 cm

Object history note

Probably made in Staffordshire by Aaron Wood (born in Burslem, Staffordshire, 1717, died in 1785)

Descriptive line

Block mould for a sauceboat

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

Young, Hilary, 'The Birth of the Ceramic Designer' in Walford, Tom and Hilary Young British Ceramic Design, 1600-2002: Papers presented at the colloquium celebrating the 75th anniversary of the English Ceramic Circle, 1927-2002. 2003, p. 19, fig. 8

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Block moulds are the 'master-models' used by potters to make hollow plaster piece-moulds. Plaster moulds allow potters to manufacture complex shapes in bulk. The sauce boat shown below was formed in a mould made using a block mould similar to this one. [27/03/2003]


Ceramics; Tools & Equipment


Ceramics Collection

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