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The beautiful and delicate porcelains of China and Japan were taken to Europe after the opening of trade with Asia They created such an intense fashion for fine porcelain with the ruling classes that it was called a china mania Kings vied with each other in attempts to discover the secret of true porcelain jealously guarded by the Asians The nobility were no longer satisfied with vessels of opaque earthenware and even gold and silver services gave way to the more highly prized porcelains As early as 1580 Francesco de Medici had manufactured in Florence a ware with a translucent body called porcelain This was not the true Chinese porcelain but a soft-paste porcelain made of various mixtures of white firing clay and glass or frit The manufacture of this soft-paste porcelain spread through France Italy and England until it was finally displaced by true or hard-paste porcelain whose secret of manufacture became known in Europe Augustus II the Strong elector of Saxony and king of Poland wanted to make porcelain in Saxony and thus put an end to the spending of large sums of money for Chinese porcelains He had in his employ a young alchemist Johann Friedrich Bottger Augustus was convinced that Bottger would be able to bring him great wealth if he knew or could find the secret of turning base metals into gold He had Bottger held as a virtual prisoner while he paid him for his work When Bottger failed the kings patience was exhausted He had him imprisoned in a fortress at Meissen near Dresden There in 1706 Count von Tschirnhaus a Saxon nobleman got the kings permission to have Bottger help him Bottger soon developed a red stoneware so hard it could only be cut on the jewelers wheel About this time a true kaolin such as that used by the Chinese was discovered in Saxony In 1709 Bottger developed--independently of the
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