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Published by Merrell Holberton, Willcox House, 42 Southwark Street, London SEl lUN, (98 pp, sb. full colour pics). ISBN 1-85894-075-3. £26.

WRITTEN by the author of the successful Royal Crown Paperweights – A Collector's Guide, Ian Cox is also a lecturer at Christie’s International Art Studies and this rather over-priced book is on one of the most distinctive, popular and classic styles ever to come from the Royal Crown Derby factory. Derby Imari is here surveyed from its inception to the present day.

By the early 1800s Imari patterns were an important part of the Derby firm’s stock in trade – the firm was taken over by Robert Bloor in 1811 and he actively promoted the production of Imari-patterned wares. A handbill issued throughout the Staffordshire potteries in 1817 stated: “Enamel Painters – wanted immediately – about twenty good enamel painters who can paint different Japan patterns, Borders etc.” The richness of the blue, red and gold designs was ideally suited to Regency tastes for opulent, Orientally inspired patterns and must have looked magnificent in candelit interiors. There are endless Imari variations – tea and coffee services, vases, paperweights and even thimbles. Within five sections and using Royal Crown Derby’s remarkable pattern book archive, Mr Cox charts the Imari story, with the last three sections offering an identification of all the Imari and semi-Imari patterns ever used at the Royal Crown Derby factory. One for collectors.