Thursday, January 31, 2013


In keeping with my blog theme of "what have I learned from transferware," I present here "Dame Trot and Her Cat."  The following is an except from an article I wrote for the Transferware Collectors Club Bulletin in the Spring of 2006.

The purchase of two pearlware children’s plates sent me on a Google rampage of many hours.  The plates feature a cat and a dog, along with a nursery rhyme depicting the cat in a position of superiority!  What a clever cat, I thought.  And, how unusual to have a cat featured on a piece of English pottery from the first third of the 19th century.  It was easy to figure out the date of the plates, as there is a Clews mark (1813-1834) clearly impressed on the back.

Dame Trot Nursery Plate, c. 1825

Dame Trot Close-up

Clews Mark found on the back of Dame Trot plate

Old Dame Trot Nursery Rhyme book, 1820

Page copied by Clews to use on Old Dame Trot plate
Each plate has a different verse, which led me to believe the verses were part of a nursery rhyme.  Being a cat lover, I was delighted and intrigued.  As an English literature major in college and a teacher of young children for 25 years, I wondered why I had never seen or heard the verse before.  After the aforementioned googling, I discovered the verses were part of a nursery rhyme in the mode of “Old Mother Hubbard” titled, with various permutations, as “ Old Dame Trot And Her Cat.”  “Old Mother Hubbard” and “ Old Dame Trot And Her Cat” are two of the earliest nursery rhyme books.  “Old Mother Hubbard” was published in 1805 and “ Old Dame Trot And Her Cat” was published in 1806, each by J. Harris, corner of St. Paul’s Church Yard, London.  While we all grew up knowing and reciting “Old Mother Hubbard,” I doubt few of us ever heard of “Old Dame Trot And Her Cat.”  Dogs were the domestic pet of choice in the 19th century, so it is really no surprise that a nursery rhyme that features an intelligent and definitely alpha cat was not so appealing.  I’ll venture that cats didn’t gain in popularity as a cartoon hero until the advent of Felix and Garfield in the 20th century.

The plate shown here illustrates the rhyme "Another time the Dame came in,/When Spot demurely sat,/Half lather'd to the ears and eyes,/Half shaven by the Cat."  The source print for the plate is found above.   So far, there are five different "Dame Trot"  plates in the TCC database, along with their source prints.

Monday, January 28, 2013


In keeping with my blog theme of teachings from transferware patterns, I must introduce you to "The Tread Mill."  It is a pattern found on a 6.5 inch plate with a molded animal border that was intended for a 19th century child.  Sir William Cubit, a 19th century civil engineer, designed a treadmill for English prisons.  A typical treadmill shift lasted eight hours.  My experience with an exercise treadmill makes the thought of such a long time on one seem extraordinarily cruel.  Of course, I found twenty minutes excessive.
The Tread Mill, c. 1840

The Tread Mill Close-Up

The sign on the wall of the above pattern says "Transported for Life" (perhaps to Australia) and the picture is of a gallows!  Children's plates were intended as gifts for good children.  Perhaps this pattern was intended to frighten the children in order to keep them good!  (Notice the poor weeping child on the bottom right).

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Grazing Rabbits is one of my favorite patterns.  You may have read my posts titled "English Lop" and "Hare and Leverets," so you know that I like lagomorphs.  If you don't know what "lagomorph" means, read my posts!  Since "Grazing Rabbits" is a given name rather than a factory name, do you think the animals are rabbits or hares?

Grazing Rabbits Platter, c. 1820

Grazing Rabbits Close-up
The pattern was created around 1820 by an unknown maker.  It is found mainly in blue, but brown transfers do exist.  More than one factory (all unknown!) made the pattern.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I wondered what the purpose was for this odd jug that had holes punched in the rim!  How could one either pour or drink from it without spilling?  I learned that the jugs were meant as a joke, usually on the uninformed.  They could serve as either an icebreaker or an embarrassment. The jug pictured is mine.  It is quite small, 5 inches high and 4 inches in diameter.  There are three spouts and a hole which is located in the handle.  When I tried it by covering all of the spouts and the hole,  I made quite a mess! Still, the experiment was fun.  What an excellent party game it will provide.  Antiques can be fun. See the link to a Wikipedia article for more information about puzzle jugs.

Puzzle Jug, 19th century

Puzzle Jug

Puzzle Jug handle

Phillips "Pastoral Scene" Pattern, c.1825
Standard Willow Pattern
In case you are interested, the pattern on my puzzle jug is similar to Edward & George Phillips (1822-1834) "Pastoral Scene," with the addition of a man holding a birdcage.  The border is the well-known border found on the ubiquitous Standard Willow pattern.  The lovely handle shows the Willow pattern's fence.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Hare and Leverets 5.5 inch saucer by an unknown maker.

Close-Up of Hare and Leverets

The above pattern is known as Hare and Leverets. I assumed the large animal was a rabbit, and wondered what on earth was a leveret!   I discovered that a leveret is the word for a baby hare, and that a hare, which is a lagomorph like a rabbit, is different from its more common cousin.  Hares are born in an above ground nest fully furred and with their eyes open.  A rabbit is born in a burrow in the ground with no fur and with its eyes closed    Hares are larger than rabbits and  have shorter ears and longer legs.  The American hare is often referred to as a jackrabbit.   This British transferware pattern dates from the 1820s.

The pattern is most commonly seen printed in blue.  The saucer below is impressed "Ridgway." It could either be for John & William Ridgway (1813-1830) or John Ridgway (1830-1841).  My guess is John & William Ridgway.

Probably John & William Ridgway (1813-1830)) Hare and Leverets 5 inch saucer, ca, 1820.

If you want to learn more about hares and leverets, follow this link  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I started this blog to share the knowledge that I have gained from looking at patterns on 19th century British earthenware.  As an editor of the Pattern and Source Print database of the Transferware Collectors Club, I look at many patterns.  The rabbits on this child's plate (notice the molded alphabet border), "Willie and His Rabbit" looked like  French Lops.  However, when I did a bit of research, I discovered they were English Lops.  The English Lop has longer ears than his French cousin.  It was arguably the first rabbit to be bred as a pet rather than for its fur or meat.  The English Lop was a very popular pet in the 19th century and remains popular today.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Here is another zoological pattern that was created to take advantage of the popularity of the London zoo.  It is called simply "Zoological."  It was made by Robinson, Wood & Brownfield in 1837.  Printed in colors such as brown, purple, teal, pink and blue,  each size and shape depicts a different animal enclosure.  Kangaroos, elephants, zebras, tigers, and lions are only a few of the animal that appear in this series.   The patterns don't seem to be copied from a source print; they look like romanticized versions of zoo animals and enclosures.  The close-up of the lions shows sweet, almost human faces.   The enclosure, even by 19th century standards, is much too small!
"Zoological" 17.5 inch platter by Robinson, Wood & Brownfield

"Zoological" mark

Close-up of  "Zoological" Lions platter

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Zoological Gardens by James & Ralph Clews, c. 1830 shows the Otter House

Source print for the Otter House is from a children's guidebook to the zoo, c. 1830

Zoological Gardens Pattern Mark
There has always been an interest in collecting other living creatures with whom we share our planet. Documented pictographic and hieroglyphic records of animals in menageries go back to 2500 B.C. in Saqqara, the ancient burial ground or necropolis of ancient Egypt. But since this is an English transferware blog, I shall focus on animal keeping in England. In the 12th century, King John kept a menagerie at Woodstock, the present site of Blenheim Palace. Henry III, his great-grandson, moved the collection to the Tower of London in 1252, when he was given a gift of several lions or leopards. Gifts of exotic animals were common in ancient times and still are today. Queen Elizabeth II gives her animal gifts to the national zoos. The Menagerie served as a source of entertainment and a symbol of the wealth and power of the monarchy and England for nearly 600 years, from 1252 until it merged with the London Zoological Gardens in 1831.

In the late 18th century there was a shift from keeping animals to studying them. This change came out of expanding European exploration that made exotic wildlife, both flora and fauna, more accessible. There was enthusiasm on the part of amateur naturalists as well as scholars to produce books depicting the new discoveries, catalog different species, and establish societies and zoos. In England, scientific interest in flora and fauna led to the founding of the London Zoological Society in 1826 and the opening of the London Zoological Gardens in 1828 in Regent's Park.

The potters always tried to capitalize on the latest fashion and passion. The London Zoological Gardens was immensely popular, so the Staffordshire potters copied pictures from books and magazines that showed the early zoo. By the way, the word “zoo” didn’t come into popular parlance until the 1840s (obviously a shortened form of the word zoological).

The photos above show a circa 1830 pattern from James & Ralph Clews' (1813-1834) "Zoological Gardens" on an 8 inch plate. It was copied from a children's guidebook called "Henry And Emma's Visit To The Zoological Gardens, In The Regent's Park," by James Bishop, 1830. The plate is part of a large dinner service that includes many other animals and their zoo enclosures.

By the way, this pattern and many others in the series can be seen in the Pattern and Source Print Database of the Transferware Collectors Club. And, the London Zoo is still located in Regent's Park. However, the large animals live outside of London at the Whipsnade Zoo.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Grandpa David and Maya reading Dishy Animals ABC

I created a children's ABC book in 2011. I focused on 19th century transfer printed children's plates and mugs that focused on animals.  I had just photographed more than 500 items from the incredible collection of children's pottery owned by Dennis and Ann Berard to use on the Pattern and Source Print Database of the Transferware Collectors Club when I realized that I could use some of the material for a book.  I also had a one year old granddaughter who I though might enjoy a new ABC book.  In the back of my mind, I was also hoping that she might get enthusiastic about pottery (she is nearly three now, and does love it!).  Here are some examples from my book.  You can order it from my website, or directly from me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"The Water Lily" pattern from "Darwin" service | Josiah Wedgwood and Sons | V&A Search the Collections

"The Water Lily" pattern from "Darwin" service | Josiah Wedgwood and Sons | V&A Search the Collections

Here is some information about the Wedgwood Water Lily pattern from the Victoria & Albert Museum (V & A ) in London.

Wedgwood Water Lily

Wedgwood Water Lily, c. 1811
Wedgwood Water Lily, c. 1808

The Pattern And Source Print Database of the Transferware Collectors Club has thirteen different categories and many, many sub-categories.  Today I am showing you one of my favorite patterns from the Floral and Botanical category.   The Water Lily pattern was originally engraved in 1808 for printing in brown with enamelled decoration.    However, the pattern was expensive and difficult to make.  In 1811, Josiah Wedgwood II gave instructions that it should be removed from display, saying it would be reissued in blue with an altered border. The resulting pattern was one of the finest of the period, and it enjoyed a long life.   The center pattern consists of 3 flowers: 1) Sacred Lotus of Buddha, 2) Starry Water Lily, and 3) Lotus of Egypt.  The patterns were copied from source prints found in books and magazines that featured botanical drawings and engravings.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sign Language Manual Alphabet

I learn so many new things while I am researching transferware patterns as an editor of the Transferware Collectors Club Pattern and Source Print Database.  I recently entered a 19th century child's plate with sign language images.  The pattern shows hands illustrating the sign language alphabet consonants in two circles surrounding a single hand showing the vowels. It is an example of the British Manual Alphabet which uses two hands rather than the American Manual Alphabet which uses one hand.  I never realized that although Americans, Englishmen, and Australians share a common oral language, they do not share a common sign language!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

First Time

I was introduced to blue and white transferware pottery by my mother and grandmother. We ate off of my grandmother’s blue Willow plates, which were made in occupied Japan. My sister still has them. I remember going to antique stores with my mother from the time I was five. My mother (now 92 and still a blue lover) liked all kinds of china, but especially flow blue and old blue transferware. I liked old blue too. I bought my first piece of blue when I was a teenager. An addiction was born! In 1990, I was told by my husband that I must either become a transferware dealer or stop collecting. What a no-brainer! This was when Merlin Antiques was born, named after my favorite black and white cat. I would have liked a blue and white cat. Merlin brought me treasures, nothing dead. His treasures included shoes, shirts, hats or anything else left outside by my neighbors. Unfortunately, no jewelry. Above is a photo of one of my favorite patterns. It is the leopard pattern from Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) Sporting Series. There are at least 34 center patterns in this huge dinner service. More about this service at a later date.