Monday, April 22, 2013


I wrote about quaggas (a sub-species of the zebra) the other day, so my friend, Dora Landey, suggested that I write about zebras.  Zebras were very popular transferware patterns (22 zebra patterns in the Pattern and Source Print Database of the Transferware Collectors Club),  and the real zebra is arguably one of the most popular animals found in a zoo.  They looked exotic to a denizen of the 19th century and still look exotic to us today.
Zebra at the San Francisco Zoo
Most people in 19th century Britain and America had never seen a living zebra.  They found them in books on natural history, such as "Histoire Naturelle" by Georges-Louis Buffon (1749), "A Cabinet of Quadrupeds" by John Church (1805),  and "The General History of Quadrupeds" by Thomas Bewick (1791).  (There are many more 18th and 19th century books on natural history that fueled the craze for exotic animals).  The Staffordshire potters, as I have already said in my post titled "Giraffe", put patterns on their pottery that were already popular.  As copyright laws in Britain were lax before 1842, the potters copied the prints found in the aforementioned books.  Below are a few of the popular zebra patterns and their source prints.  You'll notice that different factories copied from the same books.  Pay attention to the what the potters choose to keep from the source print and what they added or deleted.

Zebra pattern 10 inch plate by Ralph Stevenson (& Son), 1810-1835/copied from Buffon
Zebra pattern 6.5 inch saucer by an unknown maker/copied from Buffon

Zebra source print from "Histoire Naturelle" (32 volumes) by George-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, c. 1749

"Zebra" 5.75 inch child's plate by an unknown maker possibly copied from Thomas Bewick

"The Zebra" from "The History of Quadrupeds" by Thomas Bewick, 1791

"Zoological Sketches" 10 inch zebra pattern plate by Job Meigh (& Son), 1805-1834 copied from "A Cabinet of Quadrupeds" by John Church, 1805

Sporting Series zebra pattern 8 inch plate by Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) copied from "A Cabinet of Quadrupeds" by John Church, 1805

Creamer by John Rogers & Son (1815-1842) copied from "A Cabinet of Quadrupeds" by John Church, 1805

"Zebra" source print from "A Cabinet of Quadrupeds" by John Church, 1805


  1. Hi Judie - I'm a transferware enthusiast so I am sending this to you for your consideration though it is a bit off topic. I have just published a novel, a time travel adventure story. It's about a 15-year-old kid from suburban Dallas who's sent back to England in 1928 (on a vintage English three -speed through a strange portal in the Vermont woods). His mission there is to find a "girl with a gift, a girl born out of her time" and a secret that wasn't meant to be, then to return home with them both. So what about transferware? One of the main characters is the heiress to a fortune that began in the potteries in the 1860s (the fictional Fairlamb Pottery). I do work in the odd reference to back stamps and Sunderland lustreware and I thought the book might be of some interest to transferware fans - though, full disclosure, transferware is not the subject of the story. Here's a link to the book on Amazon. Of course I am hoping some enthusiasts might wander over and have a look. It's free to borrow on Kindle if you have Amazon prime. Thanks for reading.

    Another great post by the way. I do enjoy your blog.

  2. Hi Kim,

    This sounds like an interesting book. I shall certainly take a look at it on Amazon.

    I am glad you like my blog!