Although many people think of the manufacturer Haviland as being French, it was actually a very determined American gentleman who started the first Haviland porcelain factory. David Haviland was a partner at the New York company of D.G. & D. Haviland Trading. They were importers of fine English and French tableware during the early 1800s. After being asked by a customer to match an exceptionally fine but broken porcelain teacup, Mr. Haviland was determined to find out where such an exemplary piece of porcelain had been produced.
After several journeys throughout France, Mr. Haviland found that the cup came from a factory in Foecy, north of the region of Limoges. He promptly ordered several tea sets to be sent to America, but when the products finally arrived, surprisingly they were not up to the standard demanded by the meticulous Mr. Haviland.
Even after all this effort and cost, this gentleman was not to be deterred. He relocated his whole family from America to the Limoges area of France in 1841. The savvy Mr. Haviland selected this region as it had an abundance of the main ingredient required to make superior porcelain, namely “kaolin” clay.
While this type of clay was available in many places, none could match the spectacular quality that he encountered near his new home. The kaolin in this area produced the whitest “eggshell” type of translucent porcelain that Mr. Haviland had seen since first laying eyes on that broken teacup. He was determined to be the first to introduce such porcelain to America.
From the moment he setup his new business in France, the Haviland China factory was a groundbreaking operation. Instead of allowing Paris based artists to decorate the china as had always been the case, Mr. Haviland set up an artist’s studio within the factory to produce patterns he felt would be in demand by the Americans, not the French.
His refusal to stick to traditional French methods caused an uproar in his factory but, in 1842, the first shipment of Haviland porcelain was finally ready to be sent off to America.
It took some time, but eventually the hardheaded Mr. Haviland became highly respected by the French for his superior products. Larger quantities of porcelain began to be produced, more than had ever been produced before within the Limoges area. The trade to America was a huge success.
In 1872 David Haviland’s son, Charles, opened a studio in Paris that produced the famous Haviland Barbotine. The innovative idea of painting onto earthenware with liquid “slip,” another form of clay, went so far as to pique the interest of leading artists of the time to include both Monet and Manet.
David Haviland died in 1879 after which an intense rivalry broke out between his two sons, Charles and Theodore. This resulted in them each creating their own individual and successful porcelain factories. Charles operated under Haviland & Company and Theodore as Theodore Haviland.
Some years later, 1907 to 1924, Charles Haviland’s son Jean began his own separate company in Bavaria under the name of Johann Haviland. Bavaria was one of the other locations that had access to the much needed kaolin clay. However his efforts were no where near as long lasting as those of his grandfather, father and uncle.
Shortly thereafter, the company Charles had started was unable to survive the crash of 1929. Charles had passed away earlier in 1921 so his company was already somewhat in jeopardy prior to the crash. William Haviland, Theodore’s son, was able to obtain all the necessary rights to Charles’ Haviland & Company. This resulted in the two primary Haviland companies merging back into one later on under the ownership of William.
Today it is thought that more than fifty-five thousand patterns were produced during the rein of the Haviland family. Recognized for its beauty and exceptional quality, Haviland china is still a very popular collectible here and now in the 21st century. Like some other original founders of famous companies, such as Wedgwood and Royal Doulton, Haviland changed the face of porcelain forever.
Written by Anne Benedetto