Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Royal Delft: The Netherland's true blue pottery makers

By CNN wire staff
August 23, 2013 -- Updated 1147 GMT (1947 HKT)
  • Royal Delft influenced by Chinese pottery, after Dutch tradesman brought back porcelain from the Far East in the 1600s
  • Royal Delft is the sole remaining plant of 32 earthenware factories established around the industry
  • The company hosts more than 120,000 visitors a year to showcase how the pottery is made

(CNN) -- One of Holland's most prestigious pottery makers, the Royal Delft Group, is promoting its heritage to combat the rise of copycat producers selling cheaper versions of traditional blue and white earthenware.

Royal Delft Group, now 360-years old, is the only Delft Blue potter with a seal of approval from the Dutch royal family. The company hosts more than 120,000 visitors a year to its Rotterdamseweg base, to showcase how the pottery is made.

Watch more: DSM: Europe needs innovation

But the traditional producer is facing challenges from imitators keen to grab a share of the market. Royal Delft Group CEO Henk Schouten, speaking to CNN, said the style was now being copied "everywhere in the world." He added: "It's not a solution for us to get rid of that."

While other producers can claim a Delft Blue style, they cannot say they are original makers. And the Delft Blue Group will jump on any misuse of its logo, Schouten said. "When people use our logo or our name then of course it will be going to a solicitor."

Watch more: Film studio in funding cap crisis

Royal Delft itself was influenced by Chinese pottery, after Dutch tradesman brought back porcelain from the Far East in the 1600s. It proved popular with the Dutch, and potters began developing a similar style with local clay.

Hundreds of years later and with the backing of the monarchy, Royal Delft is the sole remaining plant of 32 earthenware factories established around the industry.

Watch more: Pinewood targets expansion

As flag bearer, it focuses on tradition and history over mass production, Schouten said.

"We just want to produce high level products," Schouten said, "because there are many other factories who produce the mass products... that kind of product you can buy it very cheap in all kinds of shops."

Read more: Building learning blocks at LEGO school

Craftsmanship is the key to Delft Blue's value, Schouten added. Each piece is inspected and hand-painted by a master painter who trains for four to five years, after which they are able to develop their own designs.

Schouten added: "When you see a product here hand-painted then I think three quarters of the price is craftsmanship and only a quarter of the price is the cost price of all kinds of material."

According to spokesman Saifya Yilmaz, the copycat products don't have a trademark and are sold as souvenirs. "The large objects, such as tulip vases, you only see at the original producers," he said.

Part of complete coverage on
Marketplace Europe
January 16, 2014 -- Updated 1631 GMT (0031 HKT)
Marketplace Europe visits Latvia to see how the Baltic country has made its transition to the Euro from the Lat.
January 16, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
CNN's Nina Dos Santos visits Latvia to speak to the country's outgoing Prime Minister and the prospects for the eurozone's 18th member.
January 2, 2014 -- Updated 1640 GMT (0040 HKT)
Malta is the gateway to Europe and on the frontline of the immigration flows. Isa Soares reports from a detention center on the Mediterranean island.
January 2, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
CNN's Isa Soares speaks with people on the streets of Valletta who say their country can't cope with more migrants from Africa and the Middle East.
January 9, 2014 -- Updated 1006 GMT (1806 HKT)
Malta cannot afford to continue supporting migrants from war-torn countries in its over-crowded detention camps, the country's foreign minister has told CNN.
December 26, 2013 -- Updated 2123 GMT (0523 HKT)
Slow recoveries, bailouts, and youth unemployment. Richard Quest speaks to Europe's top CEOs about the issues of 2013.
December 26, 2013 -- Updated 2114 GMT (0514 HKT)
CNN's Richard Quest speaks to economist Bob Parker about defining moments of 2013 and about what to expect in 2014.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 1815 GMT (0215 HKT)
Estonia is setting the pace for other European nations with a thriving economy and its tech industry, according to the Baltic nation's leader.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
The Baltic nation of Estonia is developing its oil shale energy reserves in a bid to become energy self-sufficient.
November 29, 2013 -- Updated 0925 GMT (1725 HKT)
Europe must stop being nationalistic if it wants to help a lost generation of workers, the regional boss of U.S. conglomerate General Electric says.
November 14, 2013 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Peer at the windows and you'll spot big colorful chairs, plastic plants and a huge bed, but this is no department store.
November 19, 2013 -- Updated 1006 GMT (1806 HKT)
There once was a time, many years ago, when the sounds of bagpipes struck fear into the stomachs of Englishmen.
November 11, 2013 -- Updated 1116 GMT (1916 HKT)
Greece is on the way to economic recovery as investor faith returns to the recession-ridden eurozone nation, an executive at Greece's largest bank has told CNN.
November 8, 2013 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Could Greece's famous spice help the country's farmers through a four-year long economic crisis.
November 1, 2013 -- Updated 1307 GMT (2107 HKT)
One of the masterminds behind the euro says Europe would have suffered a far worse fate if the single currency had never been created.
October 31, 2013 -- Updated 1741 GMT (0141 HKT)
Nina Dos Santos visits the Dutch city where the European treaty carrying the city's name came into force 20 years ago.
October 25, 2013 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
As Spain continues its drive to slash budgets and cut spending, one of the nation's favorite pastimes is under threat as ministers look for ways to boost productivity.
October 24, 2013 -- Updated 1617 GMT (0017 HKT)
The high commissioner of Brand Spain talks about getting the country back on its fee and attracting business.