Thursday, March 8, 2018


Everard, Colclough & Townsend (1837-1845) "Plenty" jug. 

I've been watching "Victoria" on PBS.  A few episodes deal with the the need to repeal the Corn Laws that made it so expensive for the common working people to buy food (grain for bread). The laws, passed in 1815, were meant to protect the price of grain (corn) from the competition of foreign markets.  However, the laws created a monopoly that enriched the landowners.  This worked until 1845 when the potato blight in Ireland, poor harvests in England, plus the high cost of grain created a famine in Ireland and near famine in England.
Other side of Everard, Colclough & Townsend (1837-1845) "Plenty" jug

I have often wondered about transferware patterns that feature the words "Corn Laws" and "Free Trade."  I knew nothing about these laws, nor their consequences (or forgot).*  Once again, the study of transferware patterns has opened a window onto history. One of the things I learned is the word "corn" refers to wheat, rye, and other grains, not just what Americans think of as corn. Another is that one of the biggest motivating features of politics is greed (I actually knew this already).  And yet another is that free trade can both benefit and destroy.  The Corn Laws were more complicated than I am telling you, so I suggest you look at the link above.

Here is a close-up of the photo above. The flags say "Free Trade" and "No Monopoly."  The bags are easier to read: "Corn" and "Cheap Corn."

The mark for the above teapot.
A child's plate with the same pattern as the above jug.

Child's plate with the caption "Our Bread Untaxed Our Commerce Free." This was the motto of the Anti-Corn Law League. The pattern is the same or nearly the same as one side of the "Plenty" jug.

A jug with the same pattern or a similar pattern to the plate above.

The Corn Laws were repealed in 1846, but not before many people died of starvation.

Just one more pattern to show that the Potteries wanted Free Trade too, although Free Trade may have helped the demise of the Staffordshire pottery industry at the beginning of the 21st century. I may only be surmising, so please let me know what you think.

Child's plate "Commerce/The Staffordshire Potteries/And free trade with all the world."

I'll end with pointing out that free trade remains an issue today.  Just read the newspaper!

*And one more thing.  If you are a Transferware Collectors Club member, see the excellent article written by Michael Weinberg titled "British History by the Jug" in the Spring-Summer 2010 Bulletin, pp. 4 and 5.

Friday, February 23, 2018


"The Familiar Friend" 7.25 inch plate by an unknown maker (most children's plates are by an unknown maker).
February 20 is National Love Your Pets Day. I think the day could also be called National Love Your People Day! We love our pets and they love us.  There are lots of transferware patterns that show people and pets.  Most of the patterns feature children and were intended for children.  The Transferware Collectors Club Database of Patterns and Sources shows 95 patterns in the category Children's Subjects/Pets.  I thought I'd show you a few of my favorites.  I actually own quite a lot of them!

Not all pets are what most of us consider household animals such as dogs and cats.  Much of England in the 19th century was rural, so a pet could be a lamb.

"My Favourite Lamb" 4.5 inch plate, ca. 1830.

"Pet Lamb" 2.56 inch mug with a molded alphabet rim.  It is harder to see the alphabet than to feel it! 

"The Pet Lamb" 4.25 inch mug.

Even a sheep!

"The Pet Of The Village" 6 inch plate with a molded alphabet border, ca. 1880.

William Adams IV & Sons (1829-1861) 6 inch saucer "The Pet," ca. 1835. The saucer is part of a tea service for adults.

Or a pony.

"The Little Pony" 4.5 inch plate includes the poem: "I had a little Pony/ They called it Dapple Grey/ I lent it to a young man/ To ride a mile away."

Or a fawn.

"The Pet Fawn" 2.75 inch mug.

Or a chicken!

"My Hen" by an unknown maker, ca. 1810.

Rabbits probably bridge the space between domestic pets and farm animals.

"My Favorite Rabbit" 5.25 inch plate. 

Plate, 6.5 inches. The pattern is found with the title "My Rabbits."
"Feeding The Rabbits" 2.75 inch mug.

J. Meir & Son (1837-1897) 8 inch wash jug, ca. 1840.  The jug is part of a toilet set.

Which brings us to cats and dogs.

"Faithful Fido" 4.5 inch plate.  Fido was a popular name for a dog for a long time. President Abraham Lincoln named his dog "Fido," and the name was used so often that it referred not just to one dog but to any dog! It remained popular in the United States into the 20th century. The word is Latin for faithful or loyal.

"Faithful Playmate" 4 inch plate, ca. 1830.

"A Lady's Pet" 7 inch plate with a molded alphabet border, ca. 1880.

Podmore, Walker & Co. (1834-1859) "Soldier Tired" 4.4 inch plate.

John Wilkinson (1828-1867) "Our Early Days, The Pet."

Cats don't have a reputation for loyalty or loving, but I can attest that some cats, like some humans, are more loving than others. Of course, there is the joke about dogs having masters and cats having staff.  This mug illustrates that.

"Pus's (sic) Breakfast" 2.75 inch mug. This cat has staff!

The cats on the plates below looks as if they are on a pedestal! How appropriate.

"Favourite" 6.12 inch plate.
"The Favorite" 6.62 inch plate.  Notice that the spelling of favorite is sometimes favourite (see above).

Ford & Challinor (1865-1880) 7.75 inch jug "Childhood." Is the cat taking advantage of the sleeping child?

Below are my cats.  Dare I say pets?

Charlotte on the left and Percy

They add beauty and warmth to my house.  They also destroy the carpets and furniture. See the cartoon below. I do love them anyway!

The End.

Friday, February 16, 2018


Machin & Co. (1802-1831) 8.5 inch plate in a pattern with a painted mark, "566." Click on the pattern to make the photo larger.  The dogs are tiny!

Chinese New Year in 2018 is the Year of the Dog.  For me, every year is the year of the dog.  Or cat.  Or nearly any animal.  As you may know, I love animals.  Dogs and cats especially.

I have written about dogs before. There are so many transferware patterns that feature dogs.  Since this is a post about Chinese New Year, I'll show you patterns with dogs in the Chinoiserie or Chinese style. All of the patterns are from the Transferware Collectors Club Database of Patterns and Sources.  I found 491 patterns with dogs (not all Chinoiserie) by using the General Search of the database. If you like to look at transferware patterns, join the TCC.  There are close to 15,000 patterns. I know this is shameless promotion, but I am one of the editors of the database.

Chinoiserie patterns were among the most popular made by British factories in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and they continued to be popular throughout the 19th century. All of the patterns below are from the first third of the 19th century.  The dogs are small, so look carefully.

Dancing Dog pattern on a 5.63 inch saucer.
Pattern known as Chinese Family on a 9.5 inch plate. The maker is unknown.

Herculaneum (1796-1840) 5.12 inch plate printed with a pattern known as Chinese Family in a garden.

Davenport (1794-1887) saucer known as Chinese Figures and Dog.

Happy New Year!

To see other posts about Chinese New Year and transferware, click on the links below.


Thursday, February 8, 2018


Thomas Elsmore (1872-1887) Seal Hunting 7 inch child's plate

I recently went to visit the elephant seals in Ano Nuevo State Park in California. I have been to see them before.  My first visit in 1972 was without a tour or a docent.  Lots of people walked among resting, mating, and restless elephants seals.  It wasn't ideal for either elephant seals or humans.  Now you need a reservation and a docent.

The beach is filled with elephant seals.  Some of the sandy lumps are actually elephant seals covered in sand.  They cover themselves with sand to stay cool. You can click on the photo to make it larger.

The child's plate above is the only transferware pattern with seals that I could find. (The seals are not elephant seals.)  If there are other seal patterns, let me know.  The pattern shows the clubbing and hooking of seals. The molded alphabet border does aid in learning the alphabet, but the clubbing of seals would be deemed an inappropriate gift for today's child. (To see other inappropriate patterns for children follow this link.)

In the 19th century, elephant seals were hunted to near extinction. They were actually thought to be extinct by 1884, but a group of eight were discovered in 1892 on Guadalupe Island in Mexico by a Smithsonian expedition. Unfortunately, the Smithsonian scientists killed seven of the elephant seals for the Smithsonian collections!  Luckily, there were more elephant seals elsewhere.  The Mexican government and the United States government have protected elephant seals since the early 20th century, and there are now many thousands of them.

The elephant seal gets its name from the large proboscis of the adult male or bull.  The bull weighs around 5500 pounds, which is the size of a large car. The docent mentioned a Cadillac SUV. The bulls can move between 1 to 2 miles an hour, so you definitely don't want to get between them and a female or rival.  Thus, the importance of a guided visit.

Notice the large proboscis of the male elephant seal. The female is a lot smaller and her face is like more common seals.

I'll add that the elephant seal does not have the velvety fur of the fur seal.  It feels like coarse hair (the docent had a sample for us to feel).  It is lucky that the elephant seal was not hunted for its fur as well as its blubber (used for oil lamps).

It was lovely to visit such a beautiful state park and such unusual animals.  California is filled with natural wonders.  Let's hope all of these animals and natural beauties are preserved for us and future generations. It is not a given.

A few more things or a digression.  On the way home I stopped to take photos of the lighthouse at Pigeon Point.  I also ate lunch at Duarte's (in business at the same place since 1894) in Pescadero.  If you like artichokes, seafood, and pie, you will be very happy. I bought a hot from the oven strawberry and rhubarb pie and an olallie pie for David.  We shared them with friends and family.  They are huge and delicious.

Pigeon Point and Pigeon Point Lighthouse near Pescadero, California. Thank you Barbara for making us stop!

This is what is left of the Olallie Berry and Strawberry Rhubarb pies.

Mrs. Duarte's photo appears on the pie box.

I have traveled to many places in the world, but to quote Dorothy: "There's no place like home."

Thursday, January 25, 2018


Don Pottery (1801-1839) 5.5 inch plate showing the pattern known as Dancing Dog. The woman is playing a hurdy-gurdy.

While adding patterns to the Transferware Collectors Club Database of Patterns and Sources,  I noticed a pattern of a young girl playing a guitar-like instrument.  I knew the instrument wasn't a guitar.  It was a hurdy-gurdy.  How I knew this was a surprise to me.  Somewhere deep in my brain was the word and the image.  The hurdy-gurdy must have made an impression on me at some point, so I decided to do a bit of research.  I assumed the hurdy-gurdy was a carnival instrument of fairly recent (last one hundred and fifty years) invention, but I was wrong.

Close-up of the Dancing Dog pattern with hurdy-gurdy.

The hurdy-gurdy, according to Wikipedia, goes back to the early Middle Ages.  The website shows a photo of the hurdy-gurdy or its close relative, the organistrum, on a frieze on the 12th century Portico da Gloria on the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Playing an organistrum, which is an early relative of the hurdy-gurdy.

The hurdy-gurdy is also found in the triptych by Hieronymus Bosch, "The Garden of Early Delights." The triptych has been a favorite of mine since I was a teenager.  Bosch too.  If the people look unhappy, it is because they find themselves in the part of the triptych that depicts Hell! 

Detail showing the first known depiction of a buzzing bridge on a hurdy-gurdy (see the instrument to the right of the harp).

Garden of Earthly Delights, 1495-1505 (these dates vary).  The left panel depicts the Garden of Eden, the center panel is Earth or the garden of earthly delights, and the right panel is The Last Judgement or Hell.

I was not totally wrong about thinking the hurdy-gurdy was used by 19th century itinerant or carnival players.  See the photo below.

An 1887 drawing of vagabonds with a hurdy-gurdy

As I have said many times, transferware patterns lead me to new discoveries such as this history of the hurdy-gurdy.  Is the instrument still played today?  Yes!  Google Hurdy-Gurdy and lots of YouTube videos will appear.

Composer Bear McCreary plays his hurdy-gurdy.

Or listen to Donavan sing his '60s "Hurdy Gurdy Man."  And hear Schubert's 1830s "Der Leiermann" (Hurdy Gurdy Man).

I digress.  Such fun!