Anne Robinson, Karen Saxby
As one of the few decorative arts about which little has been written, japanning is today fraught with misunderstandings. And yet, in its heyday, the japanning industry attracted important commissions from prestigious designers such as Robert Adam, and orders from fashionable society across Europe and beyond. This book is a long overdue history of the industry which centred on three towns in the English midlands: Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Bilston. It is as much about the workers, their skills, and the factories and workshops in which they laboured, as it is about the goods they made. It tells of matters of taste and criticism, and of how an industry which continued to rely so heavily upon hand labour in the machine age reached its natural end in the 1880s with a few factories lingering into the late 1930s. Richly illustrated, it includes photographs of mostly marked, or well-documented, examples of japanned tin and papier mache against which readers may compare - and perhaps identify - unmarked specimens. 'Japanned Papier Mache and Tinware' draws predominantly upon contemporary sources: printed, manuscript and typescript documents, and, for the period leading up to the closure of the last factories in the 1930s, the author was able to draw on verbal accounts of eyewitnesses. With a chapter on japanners in London, other European centres, and in the United States, together with a directory of japan artists and decorators, this closely researched and comprehensive book is the reference work for collectors, dealers and enthusiasts alike.