To ordinary people, Bone China might be a weird word. Is it the bone of China? Of course not. Bone China is one type of special ceramic that people use it for daily equipment like teacups, dishes, etc. In around 1900s, the bride needed to either collect a set of Bone China’s product beforehand or receive it as a wedding gift. Let’s find out more about this unique ceramic in this article.
What is Bone China?
Other names for Bone China are Bone porcelain or Fine Bone China. It is a special ceramic that made of real bone ash, kaolin, feldspathic material, clay, as well as other basic materials. To produce this unique ceramic, it requires firing twice, once at 1250℃ and once at 1150℃. It must contain at least 30% of bone ash or phosphate from calcium phosphate and animal bone in the material to have the best quality, which helps it to preserve the strength, durability, opaqueness along with creamy white color. In fact, only at least 25% could be called Bone China, but the quality is so-so.
It’s obviously the bone ash used to make this ceramic is not from human or illegal activities; most of the bone ash is from animals, especially from the cow. Bones are the byproduct of the industry, helping to reuse the waste. There is no animal being killed for making it at all.
Bone China is really a treasure to ceramic lovers. In the past, this ceramic was so valuable that it could only be used for royalty. Until now, it still so expensive as the ceramic is lightweight yet durable, either thin or smooth. The bone ash – the most essential material, is not cheap at all.
History of Bone China
You might think Bone China is a material coming from China. It’s totally wrong. It was invented, made, and developed by Westerners. It was also the only ceramic that was created in the West; others were from the East. Back in the old times, Chinese ceramics were intensely valuable in Western countries. This porcelain could exchange for a whole army thanks to its special value. In fact, inventing this bone ceramic was accidental, but still made such an outstanding outcome that lasts till today.
It was made by Thomas Frye for the first time in 1748, then developed and perfected by Josiah Spode from 1789 and 1793. Josiah Spode was a Staffordshire potter who really played an important role to modern Bone China that we use today. However, according to the Cambridge Chinese History, William Wilson was the very first person to invent this ceramic completely as well as how to make it perfectly in 1794. William added animal bone to clay as to get an effect described as “more transparent than glass”.
The information that I have studied was not enough to tell who the real inventor of the ceramic was. But still, the only thing that I can confirm to everyone is this porcelain is not Chinese production; it is a Western successful outcome. Of course, the technique, basic materials, and technology to make it nowadays are totally different from the past. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t forget when and where this magical ceramic was born.
Bone China features – How to identify Bone China
There are lots of fake Bone China production in the market nowadays, since it is a fairly expensive material. Also, distinguishing Bone China and Fine China (another ceramic but have lower quality and value) makes consumers sometimes so confused. As a result, everyone who wants or intends to have this ceramic stuff in the house should consider these features to recognize the real one.
Transparency: It is impressive that it allows light to pass through as it is very thin; that’s also the level of transparent the inventor of this ceramic was looking for. If you hold a Bone China cup in a dark place then put a torch inside, the light is likely to go through without difficulties.
Color: It is famous for its creamy white color – the high level of whiteness in ceramic.
Weight: It products are much lighter than others.
Hardness: Having a thin and slender appearance doesn’t mean it is an easily breakable material. You should remember that it is the strongest porcelain among ceramics. As a result, many luxury hotels, resorts, casinos, etc. are in favor of Bone China dining facilities and other products. Its surface is smooth and pleasing to touch too, so it is super easy to clean and wash.
No harmful factor: A flawless appearance means nothing if it is harmful to people’s health. It can’t be material for dining facilities, using to serve food. According to experts, it has no cadmium or lead content. Moreover, it is the safest tableware. The bone ash is a raw material.