Friday, April 5, 2019


You can serve cookies on stilton cheese stands. Fruit too.

My youngest grandson asked if we could make cookies together. He had some Australian animal cookie cutters that he wanted to use for the first time. I rarely, if ever, turn down a request from a grandchild, but this meant I couldn't make the simple drop cookies I usually do. The ones that take no talent or time (at least for me). I looked online for the best cookie dough recipe for cookie cutters.  I soon learned that cookie dough needed to be refrigerated ahead of time so it would be easy to roll and cut. At least an hour or two. My grandson is five, so I made the dough the night before his visit.  I practiced rolling and cutting the next morning, so that I could avoid any difficulties. I needn't have worried. I channeled my Bubby, Fanny (Faiga) Berenson (1882-1960). Really, it was nearly as if she had taken over my hands! Bubby, who lived with us, made cookies every week. I always helped her.  My hands remembered rolling, cutting, folding the extra dough, and rolling again.

I digress.  As this is a transferware blog, I'll show you how I served and displayed the nearly 100 cookies Joey and I made. You may wonder what happened to the Australian animals we cut out with his cookie cutters. He ate one, and took the rest home to his mom and dad. Below, you'll just see round cookies. (I used a glass to cut them, like my Bubby did.)

A small footed bowl, ca. 1825. It was probably used as a waste bowl for tea dregs, but it is excellent for holding cookies.

"The Goldfinch" 12 inch platter, ca. 1820. 

Thomas Fell (1817-1890) "Antiquarian" dessert dish. Perfect for cookies!

One of my favorite stilton cheese stands (I own nine). The pattern is known as Willow Mandarin I, ca. 1790-1800.

Did I mention that I learned about transferware from my Bubby? She lived in London at the turn of the 20th century, where she enjoyed finding pieces of blue and white pottery at the Petticoat Lane markets. She loved her Willow plates, so I have shown you an early Willow cheese stand.

One more thing. I used Bubby's rolling pin to roll out the cookie dough. I only wish I had her cookie recipe. It wasn't written down.  Let me know if you have a good sugar cookie recipe that you are willing to share.

Bubby's rolling pin and some cookies

Thursday, February 28, 2019


 "The Sower" child's 3.5 inch teapot, ca. 1820*

I recently purchased a very damaged small teapot with "The Sower" on one side and "The Reaper" on the other. I have long been interested in these patterns because I have entered so many in the database of the Transferware Collectors Club. They are part of a series titled "The Progress of the Quartern Loaf." There are six different patterns: the Ploughman, The Sower, The Thrasher, The Reaper, The Miller, and The Baker. All are in the Transferware Collectors Club Database of Patterns and Sources.

The patterns are based on illustrations* that accompany the poem "The Progress of the Quartern Loaf"* by Mary (Belson) Elliott (ca.1794-c.1870). The poem describes the labor involved in the genesis of a loaf of bread from the preparation of the earth by the ploughman to the making of the bread by the baker.

"The Ploughman" is one of the illustrations from the "Progress of the Quartern Loaf" by Mary (Belson) Elliott, ca. 1820. You can click on the photo to make it larger.

Child's plate, 7.44 inches. The verse reads: "The Ploughman's labour first prepares/The bosom of the earth for seed:/This done he has no further cares/Then other labourers succeed." You'll notice that only the first verse is used on the plate.

"The Sower" is another of the illustrations from "The Progress of the Quartern Loaf" by Mary (Belson) Elliott.

Child's plate, 5.5 inches. The verse reads: "With steady hand the Sower throws/That seed on which so much depends/Following the Ploughs deep track he goes/And plenty every step attends."

"The Reaper" is another of the illustrations from Mary (Belson) Elliott's "The Progress of the Quartern Loaf."

Child's plate, 6.2 inches, The verse reads: "The ruddy Glow and sun-burned Cheek/The harvest Labourer bespeak./The sweeping sickle clears the Field./Whose warming Rows resistless yield."

"The Thrasher" illustration from "The Progress of the Quartern Loaf."

Child's plate, 5 inches. The verse reads: "And see another Friend appears./ With active flail the corn to thrash./To separate the clustering ears./And clear the Grain from stalk & trash."  Today we would call this threashing, which is the separation of the corn (wheat) from the trash.

The mark on the back of the plate above is the title of the poem.

Mark on the back of "The Thrasher" plate.

 I haven't been able to find a print of "The Miller." We will have to make do with the print on the plate.

Child's Plate, 6.5 inches. The text reads: "It is now the Millers (sic) turn we find/Who into Flour the Corn must grind,/The husk or shell is used as Bran/The flour is general Food for Man."

Below is the mark found on the back of the "Miller" plate.

Mark found on the back of the plate above.

"The Baker" is the last illustration from "The Progress of the Quartern Loaf."

Child's Plate, 7 inches. The text reads: "With yeast the baker forms the dough/ Kneading it into loaves of bread/ When baked, their use we too well know/ To need much comment on that head."

There are 17 "Progress of the Quartern Loaf" patterns by many different makers in the TCC database.  I think the popularity of the series is due to the importance of bread as a staple of the 19th century diet. The plates were made at a time when the Corn Laws made the import of grain from Europe and elsewhere too expensive. Many people starved. I wonder if the poem was a subtle reference to the unpopular law.  Just a guess.  The law was repealed in 1846.

One more thing. The poem and patterns usually appear on children's plates and mugs, but I own 9.25 inch plates printed with four of the patterns surrounded by a Canova border! They all are marked Canova and have the initials J T.  I'd love to hear some of your thoughts as to maker and owner.

A set of four 9.25 inch plates with  a Canova border and the "Progress of the Quartern Loaf" center: from left, Ploughman, Reaper, Thrasher, and Sower.

The back of the plate shows the printed mark, Canova, and the initials J and T (I think). The plates were probably made by George Phillips (1834-1847), as the urn mark is similar. However, the Phillips name is not printed under the mark.

Shown is the Phillips' mark from another item.

*The illustrations are from the Toronto Public Library,

*According to the dictionary (Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary), a quartern loaf weighs about four pounds. A quartern, a traditional English unit of weight for bread, is made from a quartern of flour, equal to 1/4 stone or 3.5 pounds. The finished loaf usually weighs about 4 pounds; as a result a quartern is sometimes described as a weight of 4 pounds.

*The other side of the teapot which shows the "Reaper."

"Reaper" child's 3.5 inch teapot, ca. 1820

Sunday, January 13, 2019


 "Cow Polisher" Pattern. It is printed in brown on a 10 inch coffee, and it is colored under the glaze.  Sometimes this type of printing and coloring is known as Salopian.

Close-up of the Cow Polisher pattern

I have owned this coffee pot for a long time. The name assigned to the pattern by Friends of Blue is "Polishing A Cow." In the database of the Transferware Collector Club,  it is called "Cow Polisher." I thought a more common American name would be cow groomer. However, the more I looked at the pattern and thought about it, I wondered about the item in the boy's hand. Perhaps it is a comb or brush, but I can't see any evidence of teeth or bristles. Also, notice how the boy is holding the item. If there were bristles or comb teeth, he might have his hand on them. The item looks more like a saucer or bowl. Maybe the boy has used the saucer to drink the milk that is in the bucket.  The boy is leaning over the cow and petting her.  Perhaps he is thanking her for the milk.

The pattern is popular, and it was made by more than one manufacturer. A sugar bowl pictured in the Friends Of Blue Bulletin 105, p. 9 is impressed "Shorthose & C" for Shorthose & Co. (1817-1822). The TCC database also lists the pattern above as made by Shorthose. However,  a cup and saucer on the Facebook page "British Pottery and Porcelain Discussion Group" on January 11, 2019 shows a slight variation of the pattern.  The boy appears thinner and more finely drawn, there are no bushes behind him, and there is a large tree to his left.

Cow Polisher pattern on a yellow-glaze saucer

Close-up of the above pattern

I always find it interesting to see what different manufacturers did with the same pattern, but I am more interested in what the boy is doing with the cow. Is he grooming her? Or is he drinking her milk? Let me know what you think.

Do people actually groom cows? Of course. I found many videos of cow grooming on YouTube.

And one more photo found for me by Susan. Thanks!

Polishing a Cow!

Friday, December 14, 2018


I first became aware of yellow glazed earthenware when I saw an exhibit at the National Museum of American History - Smithsonian Institution in the 1980s.  The exhibit featured the collection of J. Jefferson Miller II, who wrote the book "English Yellow-Glazed Earthenware." According to Miller, "English yellow-glazed earthenware may be defined as a type of creamware or pearlware distinguished by an overall yellow glaze.  It was made in Britain during the final years of the eighteenth century and the first quarter of the nineteenth century."  Yellow-glazed earthenware is sometimes referred to as canary because of its bright color.  It is also called yellowware, but should not be confused with the pottery that has a clear glaze. Yellowware was made in both America and Britain throughout the 19th century (or earlier) and into the 20th century.  See the photos below.

A group of yellowware kitchen items

Hopefully, there will be no more confusion between English yellow glazed earthenware and English or American yellowware.

I fell in love with the bright yellow color of yellow glazed earthenware.  I particularly like the the small items intended for children. Here are a few. Some are from the collection of Dennis and Ann Berard and from the database of the Transferware Collectors Club.

Yellow glazed earthenware 2.5 inch mug, ca. 1820. The saying is from Proverbs 23:23.

Yellow glazed earthenware 2.5 inch mug, ca. 1820. This mug would have been a gift for a loved child.

Yellow glazed earthenware 1.88 inch mug, ca. 1820. It has a silver lustre rim.

There are many mugs, but plates were also decorated with a yellow glaze.

Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) 8.75 inch plate with a molded border. The pattern shows an English country house.

Enoch Wood & Sons 8.62 inch plate with a molded border. The pattern may depict a peel tower, a fortified house or keep commonly found in border regions of England and Scotland.

Not all of the yellow glazed items were made for children.

Yellow glazed earthenware jug featuring Sir Francis Burdett, who championed freedom of speech.

I am mainly interested in yellow glaze with transfer prints, but below are some items that are painted.

There is an excellent blog post titled "Big and Bright: New Ceramics at Historic Deerfield" that offers more detail on the reasons why and how yellow glaze was developed and used.  The post suggests the color was supposed to raise pottery sales at the end of the 18th century.  It also suggests that the reason you don't see an abundance of yellow glazed items is the color either wasn't very popular or it was difficult to make a consistent yellow glaze.

One more item shows two prints on a beaker.
Yellow glazed 2.62 inch beaker, "A Pretty Bird." Notice the damage didn't prevent me from buying it.
Other side of the beaker.. "My Sheep."

One more thing.  Are there any transfer printed yellowware items?  Of course.  In my experience, however, most yellowware is not printed.

A yellowware container transfer printed in black.

I would appreciate hearing about your yellow glaze items!

A close-up of a few of the items seen in the first photo.

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.