Tuesday, November 14, 2017


I enjoy learning new things from transferware patterns, so my curiosity was piqued by a child's mug posted on the Transferware Collectors Club Facebook page. It showed the inscription "Mr. Van Amburgh/The Night Of The Queens (sic) Visit to Drury" under the pattern of a man dressed in  Roman garb and surrounded by large wild cats.  I learned that Isaac Van Amburgh (1811-1865) was an American animal trainer and menagerie owner who conquered Europe with his daring animal acts. (He is said to be the first man to put his head in the mouth of a lion.) The young Queen Victoria was so taken with Van Amburgh that she visited his show at the Drury Lane Theater seven times in eight weeks (this number varies).  She also commissioned Sir Edwin Landseer (1803-1873) to paint his portrait in 1839.  The painting of Van Amburgh and his menagerie is still part of the Royal Collection Trust.

John & Robert Godwin (1834-1865) child's mug "Mr. Van Amburgh/As He Appeared On The Night Of The Queens (sic) Visit To Drury Lane Theatre."  An amusing discussion of the Van Amburgh pattern is found on p. 35 in the book "Victoria Remembered" by John May; "Here, as the Brute Tamer of Pompeii, in a sort of very early Victorian Cecil B. de Mille version of a gladiator's kit, he put himself and his lions and tigers and his leopards through their paces." Thank you to Potter & Potter Auctions, Inc. for permission to use the photo.

Edwin Landseer "Isaac Van Amburgh and his Animals" 1839.  Notice there is a small lamb in the cage of wild beasts. Van Amburgh created a live show out of the words of Isaiah 11:6: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them."  No wolves, fatlings or kids, but the lions, leopards, and lamb are in the same cage!  Along with Van Amburgh.  Such showmanship!

Van Amburgh was so popular that other kinds of inexpensive ceramics, along with transferware, were made as souvenirs.  It is possible that the ceramics were sold at the theaters where Van Amburgh performed.

Mr. Van Amburgh Staffordshire figure

The back of the Staffordshire figure seen above.  I like the leopard clinging to Van Amburgh's shoulders.

A 6.75 inch relief-molded jug with Van Amburgh and his lions and other large cats. Notice the lion handle.

Van Amburgh was known as "The Lion King," but it appears he was king through extreme animal cruelty.  There were complaints about Van Amburgh's training methods at a time when slavery was still legal in much of the world, including the United States.  That said, Van Amburgh died in bed of a coronary in 1865.  No revenge of the beasts for him.

One more photo.  Here is Van Amburgh in his youth.  The lithograph is from The National Portrait Gallery in London.

Saturday, November 4, 2017


I am standing in the middle of an astounding collection of transferware printed with American historical patterns. Most of the transferware seen here dates from the 1820s.

The Transferware Collectors Club Annual Meeting was in Phoenix, Arizona this year.  Some members wondered if there would be much transferware in a city that was far removed from the transferware centers in Britain and the East Coast of the United States.  They needn't have worried, as two huge collections of transferware are located in Phoenix.  One of the collections is comprised of American historical patterns and the other collection features Chinoiserie patterns. 

The first photo shows me standing in a living room filled with mainly dark blue transferware printed with scenes of early America. It may be the desert outside, but inside it looks like New England! There is so much I want you to see that I'll begin by showing you close-ups of the corner cupboard and the cabinet seen in the photo above.

Corner cupboard filled with Historical Blue! Click on the photo to make it larger!

I am standing in front of the cupboard. Look inside!

Shown is the right side of the cupboard.  Click to enlarge.

Shown is the left side of the cupboard.

Not all historical transferware is blue!

Transferware with American historical views printed in red.

Other colors too!

Historical patterns were printed in lots of colors by the 1830s.

Not everything is in cupboards.  Lots of items are hung on the wall and placed on tables and counters.

Four Clews States platters and more!
Why not fill a foot bath with roses?  The pattern here is an English view: Wedgwood "Tower of London."

Now we will segue to an extraordinary collection of unusual Chinoiserie patterns and shapes.

Chinoiserie patterns on a beautifully painted wall.

Transferware adds beauty to any setting.

Chinoiserie patterns in brown and other colors.

A collection of loving cups and more.

Shelves filled with treasures.  For example, notice the flasks on the middle shelf.

Another use for a foot bath.  An ice bucket! Anyone recognize the pattern?

TCC members relaxing in the desert.  The temperature in late October was perfect.

One more thing. You never know where you are going to find transferware!

In the desert. Or, perhaps by the pool!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


William Adams IV & Sons (1834-1864) washbowl printed in red in a pattern known as Chess Players or Chess Battle, ca. 1836.

October 9th is National Chess Day.  I knew there were some transferware patterns that showed people playing chess, so I went to the database of the Transferware Collectors Club to see if there were patterns with which I wasn't familiar. (I thought I'd just insert a shout out here for the fabulous TCC database of more than 14,000 patterns!  If you want to see the entire database, you need to join the TCC, but the cost is a very reasonable $50 a year for domestic members and $60 a year for everyone else. I realize this is shameless advertising, but I couldn't resist because I am one of the database editors.)

Here are a few more chess patterns.  

Maker Unknown 7 inch child's plate printed with a similar pattern to the one above.  The TCC database shows another plate with the same pattern and molded border of rose, tulip, and aster, but it is impressed "Wedgwood."

John & Jos Mayer (1842-1855) pot lid showing a political cartoon titled "A False Move."  The players are the Pope and John Bull.

Maker Unknown 2.5 inch child's mug showing two men playing a game of chess, ca. 1840.

Malkin Edge & Co. (1870-1900) 6" tile printed in a pattern know as Chess.

I thought I'd add a photo of the beautiful 8.6 inch jug that belongs with the washbowl seen above.

William Adams IV & Sons (1834-1864) 8.6 inch wash jug.

The chess games seen here are examples of the Romantic Era of Chess which was played between the late 15th century and the 1880s. If you want to know more about the history of chess, follow this link.

Monday, October 2, 2017


Child's plate with a molded alphabet border titled "Cat And Kittens."

October 29 is National Cat Day.  Cats are my favorite animals.  I like all animals: dogs, horses, lions, giraffes, etc.  However,  I have chosen to live with cats for the last 47 years.  I have had as many as seven (too many) at one time, but two seems to be a good number.  The cats keep one another amused, and the litter box is not too onerous.

I didn't think cats were that popular on transferware pattern when I wrote my first cat post in 2013.  I was wrong. There are 106 patterns, so far, that feature cats in the database of the Transferware Collectors Club.

Here are some more wonderful cat patterns that are from my own collection.  Since I can't easily collect real cats, I collect transferware that features cats.

Some of my favorite transferware cat items. Click on the photo to make it larger.

Child's mug showing a cat, girl, and bowl of milk. 

Child's mug "For A Good Girl" featuring a cat catching a rat. It's an odd picture for a child's mug, but I discovered that a similar image was used to illustrate "This is the cat that ate the rat" from the cumulative rhyme "The House That Jack Built."

Four inch plate that shows a cat wearing clothes and walking on its hind legs!

Child's cup that shows a cat ignoring a girl who is admonishing him. Although you can't see it in this photo, the cat is looking longingly at a bird! The pattern is sometimes titled "The Playfellow" or "The Favourite."

Child's mug with the caption "For A Good Girl."  Her mother is helping her learn to walk. Notice that the girl is petting a cat.

A child's plate "For a good Girl" shows a handsome cat sitting in the window. The source print is from Thomas Bewick's "A General History Of Quadrupeds."

A charming post card from 1906 shows two kittens, perhaps Persian kittens, who are sitting in a 19th century transfer printed soup tureen.  Can anyone make out the pattern?

Can you call two cats a collection?  I was told you need three of anything in order for it to count as a collection.  The cat on the left is Charlotte and the one on the right is Percy, aka Big Cat.

On more thing, if you don't like cats, take a look at my blog posts that show other animals.  Like dogs.

Monday, September 25, 2017


Spode (1770-1833) 19 inch platter "The Dog in the Manger," ca. 1833.
If you have been following my blog, you know I enjoy finding the source prints that inspired transferware patterns.  I have found many source prints, but until recently I never heard of the artist Francis Barlow (ca. 1626-1704).  He was an English painter, etcher, and illustrator.  I discovered him when I looked for the source print that depicts the Aesop's Fable "The Bear and the Bee Hives."  (See my blog post titled "Bears Grease, Aesop's Fables, and Source Prints" here.) I learned that Barlow illustrated a book of Aesop's Fables that was published around 1665, so I thought I'd see if other Barlow prints appear on pottery.  I found a few pottery examples in the Transferware Collectors Club Database of Patterns and Sources.

Francis Barlow's "The Dog in the Manger" 17th century print.

Below are ceramics, mainly from Spode and Copeland & Garrett's "Aesop's Fables" series that are copied from Francis Barlow's illustrations.

Spode (1770-1833) vegetable tureen base "The Wolf and the Crane," ca. 1832.

Francis Barlow's "The Wolf and the Crane."
Copeland & Garrett (1833-1847) gravy boat "The Peacock and the Crane," ca. 1833.

Francis Barlow "The Crane and the Peacock."

I also found a beaker, perhaps intended for a child, that features Barlow's illustration for the fable "The Cat and the Roasted Chestnuts."

Child's 2.5 inch cup or beaker. The title, "Nonsence," is a misspelling of the word "nonsense." The pattern illustrates the Aesop's Fable, "The Ape, the Cat and the Roasted Chestnuts."

Francis Barlow "The Cat and the Roasted Chestnuts."

W.T. Copeland (& Sons) 1847-1970 soup tureen lid "The Fox, the Hare and the Tortoise," ca. 1900

Francis Barlow "The Tortoise and the Hare."
Spode (1770-1833) 16.75 inch platter "The Fox and the Goat," ca. 1832

Francis Barlow "The Fox and the Goat."
Spode (1770-1833) footed bowl "The Leopard and the Fox," ca. 1832

Francis Barlow "The Leopard and the Fox."

Barlow did the illustrations for another book titled "Animals of Various Species Accurately Drawn." I realized that the frontispiece was found on a child's mug that features the word's "A Present for my Dear Boy."  I always thought the pattern was inappropriate for a child, although my grandsons didn't worry about the goose being carried off by the fox! 

Francis Barlow frontispiece for "Animals of Various Species, etc."

"A Present For My Dear Boy" 2 inch mug, ca. 1830.

I saw another pattern that looked familiar in "The Animals of Various Species."  It showed a bird of prey menacing some chickens.  I vaguely remembered owning a jug with the same pattern. It took me a long time to find it, as it was hidden away in a cupboard.   I bought it in 1990.

Drabware jug with a silver resist border.  It is printed in black and painted over the glaze.

Francis Barlow print

Here's another pattern that features the same barnyard scene.  I think the hawk is trying to capture some of the chicks.

And another that resides in the TCC database.

As for the drabware jug with the silver resist border, I put it on my dresser.

The drabware jug now resides on my dresser.

One more thing.  Does anyone know  pottery patterns that make use of any of the animals found on the Aesop's Fables frontispiece seen below?  Or, any more patterns that make use of Francis Barlow's illustrations?  There must be more.

Frontispiece for Aesop's Fables illustrated by Francis Barlow, ca. 1665.  I suggest clicking on the picture to enlarge it.  Doesn't the eagle look familiar?