Japanned ware may not appeal to our modern tastes but for much of the 1800s it was the must-have item for every home. Initially developed as a cheap alternative to rare and expensive lacquer ware imported from China, Japan and India, it soon became highly desirable in its own right.
Unique in both its method of manufacture and style, japanned ware was only produced in a few locations, the most notable being Wolverhampton. Other centres of manufacture included Birmingham, Pontypool and Usk. It involved the use of specially developed tar-based varnishes applied to a base of metal, wood or papier mache to create a wide variety of products, from buttons and trays to beds and vases.
Japanned ware became as prominent in the Victorian home as Scandinavian pine is today.