Monday, November 5, 2018


I haven't seen very many complete smoker's (also spelled smokers or smokers') sets.  The one below, which is featured on pages 316 and 317 in R&R Halliday's "Extraordinary British Transferware 1780-1840," appears to have all of its parts. I am not sure what "all of its parts" actually means.  Here is a guess. Smoker's sets usually have a tobacco jar, a cup, a candlestick, a tobacco press, a snuff box, a snuff box lid, and a stand (which can be used as a ash tray). 

Smoker's set, 13 inches high, printed in a pattern known as Hawk Attack, ca. 1820.

Coysh and Henrywood on p. 340 in their 1982 book "The Dictionary of Blue and White Printed Pottery 1780-1880," say a smoker's set "is a set of pots which fit together in the form of a pyramid and serve a variety of smoker's needs." "Variety" may be the key word.

The parts of the smoker's set are from top left counter clock-wise): a goblet, tobacco press and snuff box, lid to snuff box,  ash tray, candlestick, tobacco jar, and dish (which also functions as a stand or ashtray or spittoon?). I assume the goblet or cup was used for wine.

I recently saw a splendid smoker's set in the stall of Fergus Downey in Portobello Road.

Smoker's set, 19 inches high, printed in the "British Cattle" pattern by, possibly, Bourne, Baker, and Bourne (ca. 1805-1830).

The parts of the smoker's set are from left: a stand, inkwell and sander that fit inside the bottom container and a tobacco press, snuff box and lid that fit inside the second container, which may be the tobacco box. Next may be a spittoon, a two-handled wine cup, and a candlestick. You can see I'm not sure what is what!

While most of the smoker's sets were probably printed in blue, I owned a set that was printed in teal.  The Romantic pattern dates the set to the mid to late 1830s. It is missing some of its parts, but does include a candle snuffer.

Smoker's set, printed in teal, ca. 1835.

The parts of this smoker's set include from the far left (clock-wise): a tobacco press with a built-in snuff box, tobacco jar, cup and candle stick (as one item),  candle snuffer, and the lid of the snuff box. There were probably more parts at one time.

The last smoker's set I'll show you is lacking nearly everything.  It only has the tobacco jar and the stand. I bought it because of the lovely floral pattern printed in pink and black. I envisioned using it as a plant pot. Which is exactly what I did.

Pink and black printed partial smoker's set: tobacco jar and stand only, ca. 1835.

The beautifully printed stand. The orange dots are detritus from my garden.

I hope you'll send me photos of more smoker's sets! More information too.

Thursday, November 1, 2018


"A Guinea Pig" child's mug, ca. 1830

I purchased this poorly printed and cracked child's mug because the pattern featured a guinea pig, which is quite unusual. The pattern reminded me of a loved 1972 photo of my son. He has always loved animals, and in the photo he is hugging a guinea pig.  Jonas was barely two, so the guinea pig looks very large.  I still remember the guinea pig's name, Goldie.  She was very gentle, and was very loved in the pre-school where she lived.

Jonas and Goldie the Guinea Pig.
Usually, transferware patterns lead me on a intellectual search, not down memory lane.  I am glad this one did.

Sunday, September 30, 2018


Does this sweet-faced buffalo look enraged? Is it a bison or a buffalo?

Did you know that Bison and Buffalo are not the same species? (Although they are in the same family.)  I just learned this fact in North Dakota (a beautiful and underrated state).  That said, the two names are used interchangeably in North America.  The U.S. national mammal is a bison, but most people call it a buffalo.  There are cities named Buffalo, the buffalo nickel, and buffalo burgers.  Really, they should be called bison!

Do you want to know the difference between the bison and the buffalo?  Take a look at this link.  In case you don't want to look, a male bison has shorter horns and a hump on its back. As for the animal on the mug, it is probably a buffalo (although misspelled "Buffallo").  It was copied from an engraving by Jean-Baptiste Pillement (1728-1808).  Below are a few more transferware buffalo patterns.

Pillement engraving of a buffalo
Edward Challinor (1819-1824) 9.63 inch chestnut basket stand "Battle Between A Buffalo And A Tiger." You can see the long horns of the buffalo.  Also, it is in India!

The source print is an etching by Samuel Howitt, ca. 1807, "Exhibition of a Battle Between a Buffalo and a Tiger" from Thomas Williamson's "Oriental Field Sports."

Spode (1770-1833) platter featuring "Hunting a Buffalo." Notice those long horns.  Again, this buffalo is in India.

The Spode pattern is copied from another Howitt etching titled "Hunting an Old Buffalo."

Is there a bison on transferware? Yes.  The 19th century Native Americans (also known as Indians) are hunting bison. It's a bit hard to see, but notice the furry hump and the shorter horns. 

Here's a rather fuzzy close-up of the center of the above pattern.

Some Bison I saw at the Dakota Zoo in Bismarck, North Dakota. This photo is a non-sequitur, but these are bison I saw in person.

Bison. Notice the short horns and hump of the large male.

Buffalo Bill. Bison Bill?

A Buffalo (think bison) Hunt on Buffalo Pottery. American, not English, transferware.  But, a good example of a bison.

One more photo.

North Dakota is really a place where "the buffalo roam."

Monday, September 3, 2018


"Napier" basket, 12 inches by 8.75 inches and undertray or stand, 10.5 inches by 8.75 inches.  It was possibly made by John & George Alcock (1838-1848). The color looks blue, but it is purple.  Scroll down to see the center pattern.

"The Dictionary of Blue and White Printed Pottery 1780 - 1880" says baskets are "Decorative dishes with pierced or woven sides usually supplied with a matching tray or stand. They were used for serving chestnuts or fruit."  I use my basket and stand to hold bananas.  The piercings allow air flow that prevents premature ripening. You can use the baskets for any kind of fruit. Or, chestnuts.

Baskets and stands, also known as undertrays or trays, were made in many different shapes, patterns, and colors.  The piercings or cutouts vary a lot too.  I was told the cutouts were done by hand when the clay was like leather.  Most of the baskets seen in this post are found in the Transferware Collectors Club Database of Patterns and Sources and in the free online exhibit Printed British Pottery & Porcelain 1750-1900.   Some are from kind eBay sellers.

Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) 11.6 by 8 inch pierced basket "Kenmount, Dunfrieshire" from the Grapevine Border Series.

Here is a side view of the basket for a clearer idea of the piercings.

"Adelaide's Bower" basket stand by an unknown maker, ca. 1835
"Adelaide's Bower" basket and stand

John Hall & Sons (1814-1832) "Oriental Scenery" basket and stand.  Imagine cutting these large diamonds without ruining the basket!  The pattern is "Hindoo Pagoda" from the large "Oriental Scenery" series.

The "Oriental Scenery" basket and stand. Notice the piercings in the stand and the basket.  Are they the same? You can click on the photo to make it larger.

John Hall & Sons (1814-1832) "Oriental Scenery" with the view "Part of the City of Moorshedabad." This stand is from the same maker and series as above, but the shape and piercings are completely different.

Thomas & John Mayer (1838-1842) "Nonpareil"10.5 inch by 8 inch stand.

Thomas & John Mayer (1838-1842) "Nonpareil" 10.5 inch basket. Notice that the central pattern is different from the stand.

Nonpareil basket and stand. You can see that the pair would be lovely on a table.

William Smith (& Co.) 1825-1855 "No. 16" 11 inch by 7.5 inch pierced basket.

Ralph Stevenson (& Son) 1810-1835 pierced 11.5 inch by 8.5 inch basket. It shows Seaton Lodge, Northumberland on this side and Rivenhall Place, Essex on the other side (not seen). 
Ralph Stevenson (& Son) 1810-1835 "Compton Verney" pierced stand for the basket above. Notice the round piercings.

Hicks, Meigh & Johnson (1822-1835) 12 by 9 inch basket printed in the "Priory" pattern.

Basket and stand  printed with the "Priory" pattern

West Acre House, Norfolk from the Foliage Border Series by an unknown maker 9.5 inch stand. Imagine the skill to make these piercings!

One more photo.  Here's my basket and stand without the fruit. Although it looks bluish, it is really purple.

One more thing. This type of piercing is also known as reticulated. When used to describe porcelain or pottery, the word reticulated means interlacing lines, especially of pierced work, forming a net or web.  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "reticulate" comes from Latin "reticulum" meaning "small net."

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


July 24 is National Cousins Day.  I think there is a day of celebration for nearly everything.  And, there appears to be a transferware pattern for nearly everything too.

"The Cousins" child's plate with a molded daisy border.

I grew up with 13 cousins.  They provided me with companionship and love. Sibling rivalry was never a part of my cousin relationships.  We shared family, but not parents! (I will add that sibling rivalry was alive and well with the parents.)

Four year old cousins, Liam and Joey

This is my 300th post!

Sunday, August 5, 2018


Ornithological Series 7.5 inch plate by an unknown maker, ca. 1820. It features a grebe and a titmouse. The plate is printed in blue and  colored over the glaze in orange, green, yellow, purple, lilac, aqua, and blue. 

I almost didn't recognize the above pattern, even though I have owned a blue and white example for years.  The bright colors were my only focus.  Eventually, I recognized the series, so I looked in my drawer of Ornithological Series patterns. (They don't actually fill a drawer, as I only own four items.)

Ornithological 7.5 inch plate without the color.

The large bird is a Dusky Grebe and the small bird is a Titmouse.  The pattern is from the Ornithological Series that was made in the 1820s by more than one manufacturer.  If you like birds, you'll enjoy this series.  Many of the patterns were copied from Thomas Bewick's 1797 "A History of British Birds, vols. 1 and 2.

I started this post by writing about the mesmerizing added color, so I shall add one more colored pattern from this series. 

Ornithological Pattern 9 inch dish printed with a titmouse on the top right, a female kestrel on the bottom right and a male kestrel on the left. Notice the damage on the right side of the dish.*

A little color makes an amazing difference!

*Here's a note on condition. The right side of the dish has a lot of damage.  However, if something is rare and beautiful, I'll buy it anyway.  If the price is right.

Sunday, July 8, 2018


Princess Charlotte commemorative saucer

David found a lovely cup and saucer at the Alameda Point Antiques Faire (I call it the Alameda Flea).  The pattern commemorates the untimely death in 1817 of Princess Charlotte of Wales, who was the only legitimate grandchild of George III.  She was the daughter of George, Prince of Wales, who later became George IV. George was one of 15 children, so it seems a bit strange that there were no more heirs.

When Charlotte died in childbirth at the age of 21, it was very important that the sons of King George do their royal duty, which was to produce an heir.  Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, and the fourth son of George III, fathered the eventual heir to the throne, Victoria. She was born 18 months after the death of Charlotte.  And so, Victoria!

Below is a close-up of the pattern.  The funeral urn says "Princess Charlotte." Her portrait is below. The figure at the right, who appears prostrate with grief, is Britannia. The man on the left is Prince Leopold, who was Charlotte's husband.  The anchor, a symbol of the naval might of Britain, is broken.  The hour glass is a symbol of time, which is always fleeting.  On the top of the hill on the right is Windsor Castle, one of the great homes of the royal family.

Close-up of the pattern.

A portrait of Princess Charlotte, ca. 1817

One more photo.  The black print with pink lustre trim looks well with blue and white on my dresser.