There is a long list of companies that produced Indian Tree patterned wares over the years but the original manufacturer was Coalport who debuted the pattern in 1802 in their Shropshire England factory.
The pattern was immensely popular and large section of the factory was devoted to the production of it. Fledgling china painters apprenticed at the factory, learning to decorate the Indian Tree wares. The colours were hand painted over a black transfer outline. The exact origin of the design is undetermined though there are tales of fabric swatches and paper brought back from the Far East.
Our first encounter with Indian Tree patterned china was at an antique show. We were immediately captivated by the exquisite design. This was well before the launch of our vintage china venture and we knew nothing about the age or history of the pattern. What we did notice was that it was made by several manufacturers and bits of it were sprinkled all over the show.
The Coalport version Indian Tree bone china is the nicest by far, in our opinion, with hand applied colours and a unique fluted shape. It was manufactured in three styles, scalloped, semi scalloped and smooth edges.
We’ve also come across many pieces by other English companies such as Johnson Brothers and Midwinter, made of earthenware and not quite as bright. Minton and Aynsley also have a lovely bone china version, with colors just as vibrant as the Coalport, but only have the smooth non fluted edge.
Over the years we have managed to put together a Coalport Indian Tree dinner set with a few serving pieces for our virtual museum. The serving pieces are harder to come by as they are quite collectible. There were a seemingly endless number of different items made for this set from toy tea sets to soup tureens and ladles. There are many different shapes of individual pieces, such as teacups and teapots. All of our set is bone china and has back stamps that date the set to the twentieth century so we suppose you could call it a newer set. We also have a nineteenth century set of Indian Tree from an undetermined manufacturer but that is a tale for another time!