Is Delftware Still Made?

The enduring allure of Dutch Delftware continues to captivate artists and designers worldwide. This iconic style serves as a wellspring of creativity for contemporary products, while the traditional tin-glazing technique remains a valued method today.

Screenprinting and Clay Slip Techniques

By 1750, Dutch Delftware saw a decrease in demand as it faced stiff competition from other European ceramics and robust, economical English tableware. Despite this, around 1800, ten delftware potteries were operational, though by 1858, only De Porceleyne Fles persisted.

In response to increasing foreign competition, De Porceleyne Fles revolutionized its manufacturing methods under the stewardship of Joost Thooft. The factory introduced a new approach where slip was poured into molds, significantly accelerating the production timeline and setting a new standard in the industry.

The slip used in faience differs from regular clay, as it transforms into a white color upon firing. This characteristic allows for immediate painting right after the initial biscuit firing. Following this, just a single coat of clear glaze is required to complete the process.

Delftware Hand Painted Design

Printed Decorations Now Closely Resemble Those That Are Hand Painted

Originally, traditional Dutch delftware was adorned by hand. However, around 1750, a new method called transfer printing emerged, revolutionizing the way decorations were applied. Today, screen printing has taken over, producing results that are often indistinguishable from hand painted designs. Such pieces are typically marketed as 'handmade' rather than 'hand painted.'

Contemporary Delftware retains unique features that set it apart from other ceramics. Produced in Delft, this white-glazed earthenware or porcelain is decorated with designs that echo the classic motifs of historic Dutch delftware.

As for the iconic Delftware pyramids, most manufacturers today employ techniques pioneered by De Porceleyne Fles. Royal Tichelaar in Makkum remains the sole manufacturer using the original faience technique.

Leveraging their expertise, Royal Tichelaar has meticulously restored 17th-century flower pyramids for the Rijksmuseum. This restoration influenced their own Pyramids of Makkum series. In this collection, designers like Studio Job and Hella Jongerius have crafted modern interpretations of these historic flower pyramids, blending traditional craftsmanship with contemporary design.
Dutch Delftware

Dutch Delftware: A Beacon for Modern Creativity and Design

Exploring Dutch Design

With a resurgent appreciation for heritage crafts, Delftware has become a cornerstone for fresh creative expressions within the Dutch Design movement.

The iconic Delft 'tulip vase' serves as a particular muse for contemporary designers. Originating around 1680, these vases have been crafted in a plethora of forms, from gourd-shaped bottles and bowl configurations to spouts emerging from the heads of sculpted deities. Some designs reach up to two meters in height. Today's innovators like Guido Geelen, Ineke Hans, and Wieki Somers have reimagined these historical pieces, presenting their unique takes on the classic 'tulip vase.'

Exploring the Active Market of Dutch Delftware

Exploring the Active Market of Dutch Delftware

Cultural Icon

Dutch delftware stands as a prominent global emblem of Dutch heritage, and it’s no surprise that the market for Delft Blue remains robust. Royal Delft, formerly known as De Porceleyne Fles, continues to not only market Delft Blue pottery made in its own workshops but also invites enthusiasts to engage in the 'Royal Delft Experience'. This unique tour allows visitors to delve into the rich history of this famed ceramic. The marketplace for vintage Dutch delftware is dynamic, with new discoveries frequently showcased on television antique programs.


The enduring production and evolution of Dutch Delftware underscore its timeless appeal and its ability to adapt through centuries of artistic and technological change. Today, it thrives not only as a historical artifact but also as a source of inspiration in the modern design world. Factories like Royal Delft and Royal Tichelaar in Makkum continue to blend traditional methods with contemporary techniques, ensuring each piece is a testament to both its storied past and its innovative future. Through initiatives like the 'Royal Delft Experience' and collaborations with contemporary designers, Delftware remains at the forefront of the Dutch Design movement, appealing to collectors and new audiences alike. Its ongoing relevance is a tribute to the craftsmanship and enduring beauty of this quintessential Dutch art form.

Frequently Ask Questions

What is Dutch Delftware?

Dutch Delftware refers to blue and white ceramic pottery originally made in the Dutch city of Delft. It is renowned for its white glaze and detailed, often intricate blue designs that traditionally depict pastoral scenes, florals, and historic events. The pottery uses a tin-glazing technique that has been a hallmark of Delftware since the 17th century.

How can I identify authentic Delftware?

Authentic Delftware can be identified by its unique markings on the bottom of the piece, typically including the manufacturer's mark, an item number, and sometimes the artist's initials. The pottery itself should have a creamy white base with a distinct, glossy glaze. The hand-painted blue designs should show some slight variations if done by hand.

Can contemporary Delftware pieces be used for everyday purposes?

While traditional Delftware was primarily decorative, many contemporary pieces are designed to be both functional and ornamental. Manufacturers today produce items like plates, mugs, and vases that are suitable for everyday use. However, due to the delicate nature of the glaze and hand-painted details, it is advisable to handle these pieces with care and refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning and maintenance.

Is Delft pottery valuable?

The value of Delft pottery can vary widely depending on several factors such as age, condition, rarity, and whether the piece is hand-painted or machine-produced. Antique Delftware, especially pieces that can be authentically dated back to the 17th or 18th centuries, tends to be highly valuable and sought after by collectors. Contemporary pieces, while generally less valuable than antique examples, can also be of significant worth, particularly those that are limited editions or created by renowned artists. Collectors should seek expert advice or appraisals to determine the specific value of Delft pieces.