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Members’ expertise will be tapped to build the database (a Bow porcelain listing is already uploaded) but the ECC are welcoming all contributions to make the record as comprehensive as possible.

Once the data is collated the aim is to create a survey of ceramic production for any one year removing the narrow factory-based specialisation that applies to most printed literature. It will be updated whenever new information is unearthed.

The time scale is ambitious. “We expect in six months to one year, to have all the 18th century English porcelain factories covered,” said the ECC’s president Roger Massey.

Meanwhile the ECC exhibition Shipwrecks and Marriages, which opened last week at Brian Haughton’s shop in St James’s, London gives a taste of what the database could offer.

There are around 80 examples of dated and documentary ceramics from 17th century delftware to 19th century bone china.

Some commemorate well known national events like the Chelsea-Derby jugs featuring Admiral Rodney’s face to the spout and the date 12th April 1782 to mark victory in the Battle of the Saintes. Others record more prosaic details of everyday life such as a creamware jug inscribed Mr William Barret, Cyder Merchant 1785.

The exhibition will also include a small group of around 10 pieces of Chinese porcelain salvaged from shipwrecks. Because wrecks are documented, the production date of these ceramics is secure, making them important for dating other pieces of Chinese export porcelain.

Shipwrecks and Marriages runs at Brian Haughton, 15 Duke Street, St James’s, SW1Y 6DB until July 1 (closed weekends) For further information about the exhibition and ECC’s documentation project log on to www.englishceramiccircle.org.uk

By Anne Crane