Design Registers was conceived as a means of broadening public awareness of The National Archives' records. Volumes such as BT 43/68 offer a fascinating window into social and economic history in the mid-Victorian period. The exhibition also aims to highlight the threat posed to such fragile ledgers, with a view to stimulating funding interest for a large-scale conservation programme. It is hoped in the future this will include less damaging ways to view the (often delicate) original design documents.
The project team comprised staff from The National Archives assisted by a volunteer researcher, David Beaton. Having studied the BT ledgers over a period of twenty years, David has been instrumental in the development of Design Registers. Nevertheless, none of us can lay claim to the knowledge and expertise required to produce a satisfactory study of these designs. That task remains to be done, even with regard to the selection published in the gallery.
The project team has drawn on information contained in standard works of reference listed in the text. To the extent that the Design Registers provides a useful summary, our thanks are due to the authors cited in the text. One book not explicitly cited in the captions but used extensively for the dates in the summary histories of the many small to medium sized ceramic designs proprietors was Geoffrey A Godden, Encyclopaedia of British pottery and porcelain marks (London, 1964). Any errors of fact and interpretation are wholly the responsibility of the project team, and we would welcome corrections.
In pursuit of uncovering secrets surrounding some of the designs, we have consulted a number of museums, auctioneers, manufacturers and academics. Particular thanks are due to the following who responded willingly with their time and knowledge: BBC Homes & Antiques, Christie's South Kensington, Christie's Images, Bonhams, Dudson Museum, The Potteries Museum, Royal Worcester, Spode Museum Trust, Stoke-on-Trent Central Library, Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery, Gill College, Wedgwood Museum Trust and Worcester Porcelain Museum. To these and other anonymous contributors we offer our sincere thanks and our hope that they find the resulting gallery to be worthy of their time and help.