Sunday, January 17, 2021



I recently entered a small transferware plate with a painted shell edge into the database of the Transferware Collectors Club.  I thought the pattern had something to do with the use of a dancing bear as entertainment, but I wasn't sure until I did a bit of research.  Dancing bears were a form of street entertainment in Europe and Asia from the Middle Ages and, in some countries, into the 21st century. I'll add that bear dancing was outlawed in Britain in 1911. You can imagine that training a bear had to be horrific, similar to training any wild animal. I won't go into details, but if you want to know more about the history of bears as entertainment, here is an excellent website titled Dancing Bears. Notice that the group of people on the left look more frightened than amused. Also notice that the animal on the bear's head is a monkey. I assume the monkey's whip was more for show that punishment. 

I found another small plate that features Bear Dancing. This one is titled. I wonder what the man and the bear are doing with the sticks?


"Dancing Bear" 2.88 inch plate with a molded daisy border

I have again learned something new from looking at a transferware pattern.

Thursday, December 17, 2020



This 3.75 inch saucer depicts a scene from one of Aesop's Fables: "The Cock, the Hen and the Fox."

I have liked "Aesop's Fables" since I was a little girl and "The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer since I was a teenager. So, I was delighted to find a small saucer from a child's tea service with a pattern that combined two of my favorite story tellers. 

The pattern shows a cock (rooster) and a hen perched high in a tree. There is a fox beneath the tree. The story is one of Aesop's Fables, but it is also told in the "Nun's Priest's Tale" in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales." In Chaucer, the cock's favorite hen, Partelote, accuses him of cowardice because he is frightened by a bad dream. When a fox comes calling, the cock decides to show the hen that he is fearless, so he flies down to greet the fox. The fox flatters the cock by telling him he has the most beautiful voice. When the cock stretches his neck and closes his eyes to sing, the fox grabs him by the throat and runs off! Partelote and the other hens arouse the farmer and his wife, who give chase. However, the cock sees that they will never reach him in time. Reacting well under extreme pressure, the cock flatters the fox by suggesting that he should stop and tell the farmer and his wife that they will never catch him. The vain fox turns and opens his mouth to speak, and the cock flies out! The moral of this fable is vanity blinds one to danger and stupidity!

The little saucer illustrates a fable I did not remember.  I have read "The Nun's Priest's Tale," but I have forgotten the details of the story (I read it when I was 19). One of my favorite things about the study of transferware patterns is what I learn from them, or what I relearn. Vanity certainly can blind one to danger and stupidity!


Here's a close-up of the pattern. Can you see the hen?


Tuesday, November 17, 2020


An Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) Sporting Series Knife Rest (top) featuring a Gnu

Gnus are not common animals on transferware. There are lots of sheep and cows, but not too many gnus.  A helpful transferware collector sent me a photo of a knife rest with the gnu on one side and a grys-bok  (also grysbok) on the other side. The gnu and grys-bok are unusual to find on a piece of transferware, but it is also unusual to see a knife rest printed on both sides.

Enoch Wood Sporting Series Knife Rest (bottom) featuring a Grys-Bok


 Both patterns are copied from Thomas Bewick's 1790 book "A General History of Quadrupeds."


I wondered if the gnu appeared on any of the patterns in the Transferware Collectors Club database of patterns and sources. I found a gnu in the border of an "Arctic Scenery" platter.  For TCC members, this is pattern #10689.

The gnu is in the border at the top of the "Arctic Scenery" platter.

I also wondered if the gnu appeared on any other items in Enoch Wood's Sporting Series. I found a basket among my many thousands of photos that showed a gnu printed on the outside under the piercings.


Enoch Wood Basket with Gnu

What is a gnu? A gnu is an antelope. It's also known as a wildebeest.  A grys-bok is also an antelope. I haven't found another grys-bok on transferware yet. I shall keep on looking!

One more thing. What is the difference between an antelope and a deer. A male deer has antlers which he sheds and grows every year while an antelope has horns that are permanent.

And another thing. The center of the basket is the Polar Bear pattern.


Sunday, November 15, 2020


J. Dimmock & Co. (1862-1904) "Japanese" 16 inch platter

We are fortunate to harbor numerous snowy white egrets in the South San Francisco Bay environs. I admire these commonly solitary fishermen and fisherwomen, as they patiently await and then pounce upon small fish and other fare. One even dropped into our backyard one day (no fish). On a recent walk in the Palo Alto Baylands, we spotted one nearby.

I wondered how and if egrets were portrayed on transferware, so I looked at the Transferware Collectors Club Database of Patterns and Sources. The results were a bit surprising. The only egrets depicted on transferware in the database were from the Aesthetic period (let's say 1860-1900, more or less). Only four patterns have thus far been documented with "egret" in the pattern name, interestingly, all produced by W.T. Copeland (& Sons).

Ignoring pattern name and using the General Search for "egret" in the database, I found only ten patterns, with several additional makers. Searching the Aesthetic/Bird sub-category, the results indicate 259 recorded patterns! I am only showing you a few patterns. Let me know if you know of others. Also, let me know if some of the birds aren't egrets!

W.T. Copeland (& Sons) Egrets and Fans 10.12 inch plate

W.T. Copeland (& Sons) undertray

Powell & Bishop (1876-1878) "Aquatic" 17.5 inch platter

Brown-Westhead, Moore & Co. (1862-1904) "Alexandra" 9.25 inch plate

Ridgway, Sparks & Ridgway (1872-1878) "Indus" 10.62 inch plate or soup plate


G.L.Ashworth & Bros. (Ltd.) 1860-1968 "Melrose" plate

Sunday, November 1, 2020



Percy Big Cat and a Blue Transferware Teapot, ca. 1825

Percy Big Cat died on April 30, 2020. I didn't post about him because his death seemed irrelevant at the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic.  In the midst of all the chaos and human deaths, it seemed wrong for me to mourn a cat. 

I have had many months to think about what it means for me to mourn Percy. He was the second of three loses, sandwiched between my beloved friend Dora at the end of January and my beloved mother-in-law at the end of September.  I did post about their deaths. It was important that friends and relatives were informed. I even wrote a Dishy News post about Dora.

So, here is a post for Percy Big Cat. Constant companion. Giver of love bites and kisses. Spreader of huge amount of fur.  Winner of the loudest purrs!  Lover of pottery! See the photos below.


One more thing.  Percy's love for me was simple: food, affection, and a bed (mine) to sleep in. My love for him was simple too. It was unadulterated by all of the complicated ways I love other humans. I miss him. Even his fur.


My beautiful twenty-seven pound Ragdoll Cat (2007-2020)



Saturday, August 8, 2020

DARLA 8/8/20

Today, 8/8/20, would have been Darla's 80th birthday. I made a needlepoint picture of an iris (Darla's favorite flower) for her 40th birthday.  She thought that turning forty on 8/8/80 was terrific! Not one to moan about aging, she threw herself a fabulous party that included all of her family and friends.

One of the many things Darla and I shared was a love of Shakespeare, so I thought I would include something from Shakespeare on the back of the needlepoint (which I had framed). "Antony and Cleopatra" seemed apt, as Darla was as beautiful and as flamboyant as the Queen of the Nile.  The handwriting is John Siddall's. His handwriting was much better than mine.

I have the needlepoint picture now, as Darla's daughter gave it to me when Darla died in 2010. (John died in 1981.) This one little piece of needlework is a memory of two of the people I loved so much.  I'll add that they loved me too.

Who was Darla?  Look at my post titled Friendship. You'll see some transferware too.

Who was John? See my post In Memoriam.  Also shows transferware.

Darla Roberts Barclay 8/8/40-1/27/10

Wednesday, July 15, 2020


Hunting Series 18.75 inch platter known as Fox Hunting - The Death.  Notice the many foxhounds surrounding the hunters. And the fox!

An afternoon walk led to a serendipitous discovery. David and I thought we'd take a detour through my old neighborhood, where I lived in the 1970s.  In front of my old house, there appeared a dog and two people. When I said that I used to live in their house, they treated us like old friends. (They would have welcomed us into the house, but Covid-19 prevented this.) We talked about neighbors we both knew, gardens, Palo Alto, and their dog. I thought the dog was a beagle, but I learned she was a foxhound. The old saying about a "light bulb going off in your head" actually happened to me! My brain went immediately to a dark blue transferware series known as the "Hunting Series."  It mainly features scenes from a fox hunt. The dogs looked like beagles with long legs, but I realized they were foxhounds.

Hunting Series 16.25 inch platter known as Fox Hunt - The Start

Hunting Series 14.6 inch platter known as Fox Hunting - In Full Cry

There are thirteen patterns from this series in the Transferware Collectors Club database. Not all feature foxhounds and foxes.

One more thing. What kind of bird is in the border? Is it being hunted too?

Hunting Series border. What kind of bird is this?