|Cat Merchants? 10 inch plate with a blue spatter border. It is hard to tell what the merchants are selling.|
I never thought of cats as food (read the link for more information). I was told their meat was too tough to be good. I was wrong. I learned this because a Chinoiserie pattern appeared on eBay that didn't seem to be among the nearly 14,000 patterns in the Database of Patterns and Sources of the Transferware Collectors Club. It turned out that the image in the database was so poor that it was difficult to tell what animals were in the cage and in the hands of the merchants. Susan Ferguson, an extraordinary sleuth, found the source print for the pattern. The animals being sold at market were cats! At least on the source print. So the TCC named the pattern "Cat Merchants."
|Cat Merchants and Tea Dealers at Tong-Chen (The Port of Peking), also known as Chinese Cat Merchants. It was drawn by Thomas Allom, engraved by T.A. Prior, and is from "China, in a series of views, displaying the scenery, architecture, and social habits, of that ancient empire" by the Rev. G.N. Wright, ca. 1843.|
However, the plate on eBay was a clearer print, so I could see that the animals in the pattern were birds!
|Transferware printed 10 inch plate with a spatter border showing merchants selling birds.|
|Close-up of the plate above.|
Why the change from cats to birds? My guess is that selling birds for meat was considered by the potters as a more palatable (forgive the use of the word) pattern for British buyers than cats.
What do you think?