Tuesday, December 17, 2019

TRANSFERWARE POLITICAL CARTOONS




Plate, 4.5 inches, titled "Self Accusation." The maker is unknown.

I really like learning new things from transferware patterns. I recently purchased a small plate that features a man with one leg asking for charity from a stout man who refuses him. The bubbles above them say: "Please to bestow your Charity" and "Friend I have it not." The title of the pattern is "Self Accusation."*  The eBay dealer from whom I purchased the plate included a copy of the source print, which greatly aided in understanding the pattern. The source print is also titled: "Self Accusation," and the subtitle, not seen here, is: "A Quaker outside a meeting house refuses charity to an amputee." Notice the words "Meeting House" on the building, which indicate a Quaker house of worship.


Self Accusation by William Pickering (1796-1854)

Even before seeing the source print, I wasn't surprised that the stout man was a Quaker as his hat and dress resembled the clothing of William Penn, a man whose image was everywhere in Pennsylvania where I grew up. William Penn, as you may remember, was the Quaker who founded the colony of Pennsylvania (Latin for Penn's Woods). Pennsylvania became the home of many Quakers seeking religious freedom.


William Penn (1644-1718)

I think the print, both on paper and on pottery, shows not so subtle prejudice against English Quakers. They were disliked because they had different religious and other beliefs; they had no priest or ministers, and they refused to fight in wars. Perhaps they were also disliked because some were successful in business. The prejudice is not unlike that against the English Jews. The Jews also practiced a different religion, although they were not adverse to military service. Read about the history of the Jews in England here.


Plate, 6.38 inches, made by Thomas Brough (1816-1822).

"The Jews Hobby" is part of a series that pokes fun at the new, in the early 19th century, craze of hobby riding (similar to a bicycle, but without pedals). However, the man with the hooked nose looks to me like a caricature that would have been at home in Nazi Germany. I have written about this pattern before. See "Caricature and Humor on Transferware or Prejudice?"

I digress.  So, what did I learn from the transferware patterns above? These small inexpensive plates with molded borders, usually associated with children's patterns, were sometimes used to feature political cartoons. Some could also spread prejudice.

*What does "self accusation" mean? It means an admission of misdeeds or faults, usually stemming from feelings of guilt.

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