What’s in a name? Paragon English china

After almost two years of collecting vintage English china, my mum and I have become familiar with many different makes and styles.  One company that never fails to impress is Paragon china.  Often china companies were named after an important person in the business or the place in which the china was designed and manufactured.  Paragon was different.

A photograph of A Paragon vintage china tea setIn 1903, Herbert James Aynsley, son of the famous John Aynsley, (whose china I will write about soon) started making china branded as ‘The Paragon of Excellence’ as part of the Star China Company.  Herbert had gained much experience manufacturing good quality china, having been in business with his father for many years.  Presumably, he wanted to stake his own place in the china world by creating a desirable brand of china and so the name Paragon was chosen!

Herbert was initially in partnership with another member of the Aynsley family, John Gerrard, and William Illingworth.  Such was the popularity of Paragon China that in 1919 the company decided to change its name and so became The Paragon China Co Ltd.

A photo of A vintage Paragon china tea set in pale greenHugh Irving, married to Herbert’s youngest daughter, had been active in the business for many years (and was the driving force behind the name change).  He became sole proprietor in September 1927, when the partnership was dissolved and Herbert Aynsley retired.  In April 1933 Paragon was honoured by being granted a Warrant of Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen (Mary).

Much of Paragon china was made for the export market, initially to New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, and then later North America and Canada.  I’m guessing then that this is one of the English china makes where there might be more of it outside the UK than in!

A photo of Paragon vintage English china sugar bowl and creamerI am always struck by the quality of Paragon china.   The pieces are beautifully made with few if any flaws.  I loved the simplicity of the design of the lovely pale green set.  The elegant jug and bowl went to Australia, one of the tea sets to Las Vegas and the other three to a regular customer in Malaysia.

From the simple understated design of the pale green Paragon, this cobalt blue china with the peacock pattern makes a bold statement.  Despite the differences between this and the pale green set, their high quality unites them.  The backstamps on these blue pieces date them from between 1921 and 1933 so they are around 80 – 90 years old.  I was able to make two cake stands from this lovely china – one with two plates and a saucer, and one with the addition of a cup.  Both cake stands went to the USA; one to Louisiana and the other to Missouri.A photo of English china cake stand from nancysteashop on Etsy made with vintage Paragon chinaA photo of Cake stand from Nancy's Tea Shop made with vintage Paragon china

A photo of Cake stand from nancysteashop on Etsy made using vintage Paragon chinaInformation gathered from ‘Starting to Collect 20th Century Ceramics by Andrew Casey (2007)

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