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The art of pottery making has been known since ancient times. However, the first true porcelain was made in China only during the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD). For more than a millennium the Chinese artisans managed to keep the recipe a secret, allowing expensive Chinese porcelain to be exported to Europe, until a breakthrough was made in a German factory in Dresden in the early 18th century. Within a few years, porcelain factories sprung up around Bavaria and in Naples and many other places. In Great Britain, North Staffordshire became the center of ceramic production.

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The distinctively shaped bottle ovens at the Gladstone Pottery Museum. Photo credit: Andrew Stawarz/Flickr

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