Sunday, March 31, 2013


As we celebrate Easter this Sunday, I thought I would write about rabbit patterns.  I have already written about rabbits and hares (see my posts on January 22, 23 and 26), so obviously I either like rabbits and their cousins the hares, or rabbits are popular transferware patterns.  I think it is a little of both.

Rabbitware patterns are a mixture of transfer print and stick or cut sponge decoration.   The first plate is printed in brown with three rather angry looking rabbits and one frog.  The grass and the frog are painted over the glaze in green or yellow.  The border is stick sponge decoration (we did this type of printing in kindergarten) in the Virginia Rose pattern.  The second plate shows black printed rabbits as well as frogs and flowers on the border.  The rabbits are well printed, but the frogs and flowers are merely outlines that have been gratuitously painted green over the glaze.  The center is a stick sponge Bullseye Variant pattern. 

Rabbitware is a given name. No one seems to know the manufacturer, but it is known that Rabbitware was made in England from the late 19th century through the early 20th century.  (Some of the later plates are marked "England.")  David Hoexter and I wrote an article about Rabbitware for the 2010 Winter Bulletin of the Transferware Collectors Club.  Follow the link if you want to see more patterns and learn more about this charming ware;

Rabbitware 9 inch plate

Rabbitware 9 inch plate

Saturday, March 30, 2013


My sister Janet gave me a ceramic plaque that says: "Sisters share the longest journey: life."  The saying is corny, but true.  My little sister and I have been journeying together since March 30, 1947.

I wasn't happy sharing my home or my (never our!) mother with Janet when we were little, but that changed when we were in our late teens.  Our youthful sisterly bond (sometimes too tight) blossomed into friendship as we matured.  Added to the sharing of similar interests such as books, boys, antiques and more, was the strength of family roots. 

The transferware connection is a plate made for a 19th century child titled "My Sister."  The older sister has her arm around her little sister.  A dog, symbol of fidelity, sits at their feet.  The pattern is as corny as the plaque my sister gave me.   Corny is good.  The love is strong.

"My Sister" 19th Century Child's Plate

Judie (L) and Janet circa 1949

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Ornithological Series 6.25 inch plate, Andrew Stevenson (1810-1827)

Andrew Stevenson impressed mark

Mourning Dove on nest with baby (notice the unhatched eggs).

Baby Mourning Doves
Spring brings baby birds to my garden.  My favorites are the Mourning Doves.   A pair always moves back into a nest they (or relatives) built on the top of the traffic light that hangs on the outside wall of my house (old traffic lights make excellent outdoor lighting).  The female lays her eggs and sits on them, while the male brings her food.   As this is a blog about transferware,  I thought I would show you a 6.25 inch plate featuring doves from the Ornithological Series.   More than one factory made the series, but this plate is impressed with the Andrew Stevenson (1810-1827) mark.  Almost every size and shape in this series shows a different bird or birds. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013


The holiday of Passover, which begins on Monday night,  is a celebration of the Exodus and freedom. The story of the Exodus centers around Moses, who led the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt and gave them the Ten Commandments.

Here are two patterns that illustrate scenes from the life of  Moses.  The first shows Moses floating in a basket among the bulrushes on the Nile.  He is found by the daughter of Pharaoh and her handmaiden.  (She takes pity on the baby, and raises him as her own.)  The second pattern, "Scripture Illustrations, Moses On Mount Sinai,  Exodus Chap. 20," shows Moses receiving the Ten Commandments.  The Ten Commandments are still the core of our ethical laws.

The story of Moses resonates with children as well as adults.  He is a baby who is saved, a prince of Egypt who defends a slave,  a man who confronts the Pharaoh.  He parts the Red Sea, leads the Hebrews in the desert, and gives them the Ten Commandments.   He is a hero worthy of a Hollywood movie!  (Of course, a movie starring Charlton Heston, "The Ten Commandments," was made in the 1950s). 

Moses in the bulrushes 6.25 inch saucer by an unknown maker, c. 1825

"Moses On Mount Sinai" 8 inch plate from the "Scripture Illustrations" Series,  Knight Elkin & Bridgwood (1829-1840)

"Moses On Mount Sinai" mark

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Dora Landey and I wondered why her gorgeous floral soup plate was titled "Clematis."  The center of the plate is filled with large roses, passion flowers and peaches.  Clematis is a genus of climbing vines of mostly showy large flowers, but the clematis flowers here are small.  They are  found in the border and the mark on the back.  They also serve as a background for the larger fruit and flowers in the center. 

"Clematis" pattern soup plate by an unknown maker, c. 1825

"Clematis" pattern mark

Large clematis flowers in my garden (before the squirrels and the rats ate them).
I have spent hours trying to identify these small clematis flowers.  They may be Clematis Lanuginsoa Candida.  Or not.  Clematis Lanuginsoa are small white flowering clematis that bloom in the spring.  I still prefer the showy clematis found in my garden, but they would not have been a good background for the large flowers on the soup plate.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


The dog on the Enoch Wood & Sons 10 inch soup plate looks like my sister's golden retriever, Sierra.  When I researched the pattern,  I found that it was copied from a source print from William Taplin's 1803 book, "A Sportsman's Cabinet: A Correct Delineation of the Various dogs Used in the Sports of the Field, Including the Canine Race in General, consisting of a series of engravings of every distinct breed, from original paintings taken from life."  (This is probably one of the longest titles I have ever seen!)  The engravings were done by John Scott (1744-1827) after the paintings of the artist Philip Reinagle (1749-1833).  I was surprised to see that the golden retriever engraving was actually titled "Setter."  Or, to put it another way, what I thought was a golden retriever on my soup plate was actually  a setter.

The golden retriever is more than his looks.  He was developed because the early 19th century  improvement of guns resulted in more birds being downed and at greater distances than before.  There was a need for a more powerful retriever with a soft mouth who was also gentle and trainable.  The seeds of golden retriever development were germinated in Scotland by Sir Dudley Marjoribanks, whose breeding records from 1835 to 1890 were published in 1952.  The original cross was between a retriever and a Tweed water spaniel.  In 1868 an Irish setter was added to the breeding program, along with a few other dogs.  The ancestor of the golden retriever probably dates from the 1868 breeding results.  However,  golden retrievers were not accepted as a breed by The Kennel Club of England until 1903 and by the American Kennel Club until 1925.  I have written a lot of words to show that the dog on the soup plate looks like a golden retriever, but is not one. 

It appears that the lovely animal that we know as a golden retriever didn't exist in the 1820s, when this soup plate was made.  I think you can see that Sierra resembles his British ancestor, even if it was a setter.

Enoch Wood & Sons Sporting Series Soup Plate, c. 1825

 J. Scott engraving for W. Taplin's "A Sportman's Cabinet," 1803

Sierra, a British Golden Retriever

If the border looks familiar, you may remember it surrounds the leopard in my "First Time" post (January 13, 2013).   The setter discussed in this post, and the leopard, are both from Enoch Wood's Sporting Series.  So far, thirty-two center patterns have been found in this series. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I like floral and botanical patterns, so the lovely "Flora Pattern" plate I purchased in England fit right into my collection.  The pattern features a robust assortment of flowers in a vase against a stippled background (small dots).  The pattern is unconfined by a border.  It fills the plate right up to the ribbon at the edge of the plate (I guess the ribbon is border-like).  There are what appear to be cherries and peaches on the table.  As much as I like this pattern, this is not the reason for this post.  This post is about squirrels and ecology!

"Flora Pattern" 10" plate, circa 1820

"Flora Pattern" 10" plate with squirrel, c. 1820

"Flora Pattern" printed mark
I found another plate in the "Flora Pattern" that had the addition of a squirrel.  It is a rather uncommon addition to the pattern.  I noticed that the ears of the squirrel were quite different than the ears of the squirrels that sit on my fence in California.  The squirrel on my plate has tufts of fur on its ears.  I learned that the squirrel on the plate is a domestic (English) squirrel.  A Red squirrel.  I also learned that the Red squirrel is endangered by the encroachment of the American or Eastern Grey squirrel.  The Grey squirrel, which was introduced into England in the 19th century, carries a disease, the squirrel parapoxvirus, that kills the Red squirrel but doesn't harm the Grey squirrel.  This is just one of the issues between the Grey squirrel and the Red squirrel, but more can be found on the Internet.  This blog is about what I have learned from transferware patterns.   A chance encounter of a squirrel on a floral plate has led me to worry about the survival of the Red squirrel in Britain and on this planet.


I have always envied collectors of American Historical views who live on the East Coast.  There are so many East Coast patterns that celebrate American history.  I grew up in Philadelphia, and there are tons of Philadelphia patterns, but I have lived near San Francisco since the 1970s.  Thus, I was delighted to find two tiny plates, 2.88 inches in diameter, that focused on California's Gold Rush: "Away To California" and "California Diggings."

These toy or souvenir plates were made by John Thomson (& Sons) at the Annfield Pottery (1826-1883) in Glasgow.  They are part of a series of plates that are mainly unrelated.  "Indian Chiefs," "Highland Dance," and "Royal Exchange" (Glasgow) are a few of the other patterns. 

Panning for gold in California was the rage between 1849-1864.   Among the many who arrived in California in the 1850s was my husband's great great great (he doesn't remember how many greats) grandfather.  Unfortunately, he didn't find any gold.  Luckily, the "gold" in California today is real estate.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Gien pottery toy children's plates, 4 inches in diameter

Where are you going?

Take this road

Knock, knock

What big ears you have

Gien Mark
My blog is usually devoted to English transferware, but I couldn't resist the addition of these French transferware children's toy plates that depict scenes from the story of "Little Red Riding Hood."  The items are part of a doll or toy service made by the Gien factory (1821 to the present).  The mark was used from 1886 to 1938.

I photographed the plates in their story order; "Ou va tu?" (Where are you going?), "Prends ce chemin" (Take this road), "Toc toc (Knock, knock), "Que vous avez de gdes (sic) oreilles" (What big ears you have).  This last is rather a risque pattern of Little Red in bed with the wolf!  How French! 

The story of Little Red Riding Hood is a favorite of mine.  The little girl is asked to take goodies to her sick grandmother who lives on the other side of the forest (no child would be allowed to go through the woods alone today).  She is warned by her mother not to talk to strangers.  However, the wolf has such good manners that Little Red talks to him and tells him where she is going.  The wolf thinks he will be double lucky and eat both granny and Little Red!  Granny lets the wolf in and he eats her (he pretends to be Little Red).  Little Red thinks granny looks different (the wolf pretends to be granny).  The wolf eats little Red and falls asleep.  A huntsman hears the wolf snoring (the wolf was sleepy after such a big meal).  He kills the wolf and cuts open his stomach.  Out walk Little Red and her grandmother.  This is a fairy tale!  What an excellent opportunity to talk to children about strangers, listening to mama and more.

Children's china patterns were intended to delight and teach.  Here you have both plus a little French.


Thursday, March 7, 2013


The purchase of a London-shaped cup and saucer with the image of a small city with the name "Christiania" introduced me to another learning experience.  I had never heard of the city of Christiania.  However, my husband David, who studied in Norway as a university student,  informed me that Christiania was the former name of Oslo. 

Oslo was founded in 1048 by Harald III (1015-1066), but the city's name was changed in 1624 to honor Christian IV (1577-1548) who was king of Denmark and Norway.  He rebuilt Oslo after a devastating fire, which earned him the popularity of the people, so the city was renamed Christiania.  In 1925 the city's original Norwegian name of Oslo was restored. 
Saucer showing Christiania, Norway, 1830s

Christiania, Norway cup and saucer, 1830s

Christiania saucer impressed mark/R. Davies & Co.

The cup and saucer (notice the bowl-like shape), were made by R. Davies & Co. of the Tyne Main Pottery in Gateshead (1833-1851) in the 1830s.   Most likely, this cup and saucer were made for the Norwegian market,  as R. Davies & Co. did supply much pottery to Norway.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


A saucer is never a cup.  However, I heard that people often poured their tea or coffee into a saucer and drank from it.  It all sounded apocryphal until I purchased an early 19th century miniature portrait on ivory of a woman drinking from a saucer!

The 19th century saucers shown here are quite bowl-like.  It would be difficult to drink from a modern saucer as they are too shallow.  Notice that the saucers have no cup ring.  When I first saw an 1820s saucer without its cup, I assumed it was a bowl.

Nineteenth Century Miniature Painting on Ivory

Enoch Wood & Sons Cup and Saucer, c. 1825

Cup and Saucer, c. 1825.  Notice bowl-like shape

Cup and Saucer, c. 1825.  Notice bowl-like shape

The three saucers seen above.  Notice that there is no cup ring.
While the habit of drinking out of the saucer seemed to disappear in England by the end of the 1850s (at least among the upper and middle classes), the custom continued in Europe into the 20th century.  The French still have their morning coffee out of a bowl!  

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Jules Hauel Pot Lid, c. 1850
More than twenty years ago, David Hoexter (my husband) and I found, in an antiques shop in Maine,  small ceramic containers printed with advertising .  We didn't know what they were intended for, but they were attractive and made of earthenware, so we bought them.  So began a journey of discovery and delight.  The more we researched, the more we became enthralled by the way medicine, food, hair products and more were packaged from the mid 19th century until about 1920.  This is not going to be a post about pot lids (the generic name of this item),  but I am going to stick to my blog mission statement (at least on occasion) which is "what I have learned from transferware."  In this case, I have learned a bit about advertising and a new word.

As you know, advertising is intended to entice you.  The design of the pot lid here is attractive enough to encourage you to buy the product.  However, the word "saponaceous" might make a buyer feel that he is getting a better shaving cream than one that is merely "soapy."   I had to look "saponaceous" up in the dictionary.  What a fancy adjective.

One thing that Jules Hauel or the English potter who engraved the copper plate for the pot lid didn't get right was the spelling of the street on which the company was located.  I grew up in Philadelphia, and the spelling of the street is "Chestnut" with a "t." 

If you want to learn more about pot lids see the article written by David Hoexter and Bruce Ring in the Transferware Collectors Club Bulletin, which is available along with many others as a PDF on the TCC website;   I have been having difficulty with this link (it keeps disappearing), so if you are interested you can find the article by going to Publications on the blue bar on the left of the homepage of the Transferware Collectors Club,  Then follow TCC Bulletins and Sample a Selection of Articles.  The Pot Lid article is the last one on the list.