Lustreware (or lustre ware), is a form of decoration achieved using various salts of metal oxides to create a range of coloured metallic effects on top of lead-glazed earthenwares.
Silver lustre (created with platinum oxide) was used to completely cover pots so that they looked like they were made of silver. These ‘solid’ silver lustrewares are sometimes called ‘Poor man’s silver’, however they were popular with the middle classes as well as the poor and were equally effective when lit by either candlelight or lamps on the shelves of humble cottages and city houses alike.
Silver resist lustreware is a variation where a resisting liquid that contained wax or honey was hand-painted onto the pot and would resist the application of the liquid lustre salts when the pot was dipped, leaving a resisted design in the lustre when fired again at a lower temperature (see photo above).
Other lustrewares include copper lustre (created with minute amounts of gold) which usually adorns simple utilitarian red earthenwares but also occurs on white bodied pearlware where the same lustre salts produce pink lustre instead of gold. Pink lustreware is often associated with Sunderland but it was also made elsewhere, including Staffordshire. English lustrewares were produced from the very early C19th onwards.