Sunday, April 28, 2013


My husband David collects sand.  There are odder things to collect, but probably nothing cheaper.  Except for the travel expense (but we were going there anyway).  We have sand from all over the world.  Even friends collect it for us. 

One of my favorite transferware patterns is titled "Nahant Hotel (near) Boston." Nahant was one of America's first resort hotels. It was built in the early 19th century and burnt down in 1861.  The scene shows the hotel surrounded by ocean and beach.  People are walking, riding in carriages, and fishing, but I don't see anyone bathing in the ocean.   The 9 inch plate is part of a large series of American views by Joseph Stubbs (1822-1834) known as the Spread Eagle Border Series (see the large eagles in the border). The pattern is copied from an engraving by Annin & Smith and J.R. Penniman dated May 1, 1825.  For more information about the pattern, follow the link to the online exhibit "Patriotic America" which is sponsored by the Transferware Collectors Club, the Winterthur Museum, and Historic New England;

David and I, accompanied by Dick Henrywood, visited Nahant in 2003 to see if we could figure out where the hotel was located and to collect sand for David's collection.  We're not sure that we found the hotel site, but we did get some sand.

"Nahant Hotel (near) Boston" by Joseph Stubbs

Source print for "Nahant Hotel (near) Boston"

Possible site of the Nahant Hotel (lots of sand)

Vial of sand from Nahant, MA

Map of Nahant, MA

Friday, April 26, 2013


John Brian Siddall (May 27, 1939 - April 26, 1981)

Gone, but not forgotten.  John will always be my beloved young husband.  He was a brilliant chemist known for his clear crystal thought.  He loved sailing, skiing, hiking, travel, cats, children, T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare, James Taylor, and me (not necessarily in that order).  Diagnosed with acute promylecytic leukemia on March 30, 1981, he died a few weeks later on April 26.

The transferware connection is a pattern on a child's plate.  That "Time waits for no one" is a common saying.  The pattern shows a rococo clock with a woman on one side and a man on the other: on the left is Time leaning on her hour glass and on the right is Death holding a scythe.  There is a raised poem between them.  The eye above may be the eye of God.   The poem reads: "Time, rapid flies, it waits for none/Yet gives us often warning:/We're here to day (sic) tomorrow gone/Out of this world of mourning."  Although this pattern might be seen as an inappropriate gift for a child today, it was very acceptable in the 19th century when death was a constant childhood companion.

Child's plate, mid-19th century

Child's plate center close-up

John Brian Siddall (May 27, 1939-April 26, 1981)

Thursday, April 25, 2013


In a bit of a segue (actually more than a bit), I am going to show you a wall in my sister Janet Rudolph's house.  She has some lovely Stubbs Shell pieces.   She also has a large platter and some plates from Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) Irregular Shell Border Series,  a  plate from Stubbs' Spread Eagle Border Series (a seaside scene) and other transferware pieces.   She mixed these patterns with American themed embroideries, wooden eagles, a  19th century Seth Thomas double face clock and other antiques.   As much as I enjoy studying transferware, it is even more fun (for me) to see how people live and decorate with it.
Janet's Transferware Display
It is difficult to see the transferware patterns on Janet's wall (the photo is too small), but the large platter (20 Inches) under the Stubbs Shell platter (see my Shells post, is from Enoch Wood & Son's Shell Border Series (Irregular or Grotto-Shaped Center).   The view is "Christianburg Danish Settlement on the Gold Coast Africa."  The shells in the border are spectacular.  The plate in the same series (10 inches) shows a view of the ship  "Chief Justice Marshall, Troy,"  a steamship that plied the Hudson.  The last photos show pictures of the 8.5 inch plate in the Stubbs' Shell series and "Nahant Hotel, Near Boston" in Stubbs' Spread Eagle Border Series.

Enoch Wood & Sons "Christianburg Danish Settlement on the Gold Coast Africa" 20" platter

Enoch Wood & Sons "Chief Justice Marshall, Troy" 10" plate

Stubbs & Kent Shell Series 8.5" plate

Joseph Stubbs, "Nahant, Near Boston" 9" plate


Stubbs & Kent 9.75" Shell Pattern Soup Plate, c. 1825

Stubbs & Kent 9" Shell Pattern Sauce Tureen Undertray, c. 1825

Stubbs & Kent 19" Shell Pattern Platter, c. 1825
I have always liked shells.  They remind me of my childhood summers at the beach with my grandparents in Atlantic City, NJ.   I collected shells.  They smelled of sand and salt and the essence of the animals that lived in them.  So, when I first saw a dark blue plate with a shell center, I had to have it (a familiar refrain for me), and I wanted to know more about who made it.

I learned the pattern was from a series of shells and sea plants surrounded by flowers, scrolls,  and fruit!  (Sometimes there is a disconnect between the center and the border.)  Both Joseph Stubbs (1822-1834) and the partnership of Stubbs & Kent (1822-1830) made the series.  It is printed in dark blue for the American Market.  Although the blue is dark, there is usually good contrast.  So far, there are thirteen different center patterns from this series in the Pattern and Source Print Database of the Transferware Collectors Club.

Monday, April 22, 2013


I wrote about quaggas (a sub-species of the zebra) the other day, so my friend, Dora Landey, suggested that I write about zebras.  Zebras were very popular transferware patterns (22 zebra patterns in the Pattern and Source Print Database of the Transferware Collectors Club),  and the real zebra is arguably one of the most popular animals found in a zoo.  They looked exotic to a denizen of the 19th century and still look exotic to us today.
Zebra at the San Francisco Zoo
Most people in 19th century Britain and America had never seen a living zebra.  They found them in books on natural history, such as "Histoire Naturelle" by Georges-Louis Buffon (1749), "A Cabinet of Quadrupeds" by John Church (1805),  and "The General History of Quadrupeds" by Thomas Bewick (1791).  (There are many more 18th and 19th century books on natural history that fueled the craze for exotic animals).  The Staffordshire potters, as I have already said in my post titled "Giraffe", put patterns on their pottery that were already popular.  As copyright laws in Britain were lax before 1842, the potters copied the prints found in the aforementioned books.  Below are a few of the popular zebra patterns and their source prints.  You'll notice that different factories copied from the same books.  Pay attention to the what the potters choose to keep from the source print and what they added or deleted.

Zebra pattern 10 inch plate by Ralph Stevenson (& Son), 1810-1835/copied from Buffon
Zebra pattern 6.5 inch saucer by an unknown maker/copied from Buffon

Zebra source print from "Histoire Naturelle" (32 volumes) by George-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, c. 1749

"Zebra" 5.75 inch child's plate by an unknown maker possibly copied from Thomas Bewick

"The Zebra" from "The History of Quadrupeds" by Thomas Bewick, 1791

"Zoological Sketches" 10 inch zebra pattern plate by Job Meigh (& Son), 1805-1834 copied from "A Cabinet of Quadrupeds" by John Church, 1805

Sporting Series zebra pattern 8 inch plate by Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) copied from "A Cabinet of Quadrupeds" by John Church, 1805

Creamer by John Rogers & Son (1815-1842) copied from "A Cabinet of Quadrupeds" by John Church, 1805

"Zebra" source print from "A Cabinet of Quadrupeds" by John Church, 1805

Friday, April 19, 2013


I ran the Bay to Breakers in 1976 with my eight year old son, Michael.  The race was small in 1976, a mere 10,000 runners.  (Link to the history of the Bay to Breakers Race  The event was a real race for some, but mainly a fun experience for many.  People dressed up then as they do now.  Or not.  Remember "streaking?"  Picnics in Golden Gate Park followed the 7.46 mile race across San Francisco from the Bay Bridge to the Pacific Ocean.  Michael probably ran a double race, as he ran ahead of me and back again to see why I was so slow.

My memories of the Bay to Breakers infused my mental images of the carnage and cruelty of the Boston Marathon massacre.  What had been a joyous and innocent event was destroyed by evil doers.  A race like the Boston Marathon or the Bay to Breakers is about training for and finishing something hard.  The experience of finishing is near Nirvana, or as close to that feeling as possible. 

I mean no disrespect by showing one of the lovely transferware patterns featuring Boston.  Boston was and is an historically important United States city, which is celebrated on many transferware patterns (there are 71 Boston related patterns in the Pattern and Source Print Database of the Transferware Collectors Club).  It is probably why the murderers targeted this particular race, as it struck at two of the things that Americans hold nearly holy; the cradle of liberty and the freedom and safety of congregation.

"State House, Boston" 14.5" by 12" platter made by Joseph Stubbs, circa 1825

Thursday, April 18, 2013


My late husband's post doc (in chemistry) gave him a plastic flamingo as a joke in 1977.  I think it had something to do with the Queen of Hearts playing croquet in "Alice in Wonderland."  As it is made of plastic, the flamingo has weathered well in my garden for the past 36 years.  It is so tacky, that I love it. As I always seem to focus on transferware, I wondered if I could find a flamingo printed on a piece of 19th century English pottery.

I didn't find anything from the early 19th century, but I did discover a jug in the Transferware Collectors Club Pattern and Source Print Database with a lovely Aesthetic transferware pattern made by Burgess & Leigh (1851-1999) named "Flamingo."  It features two flamingos in a natural bamboo setting (I am not sure that bamboo and flamingos go together).  Aesthetic patterns are all about nature.  This one was made around 1888.

Flamingos are very popular at zoos.  I love the flamingo enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo (one of my favorite zoos).  Below are two of my grandsons, Alex and Ben, enjoying the flamingos.  My granddaughter loves them too, but she loves anything pink!

For your own amusement, you might want to take a look at a link to the Smithsonian's history of the plastic pink flamingo.

Plastic pink flamingo in my garden

"Flamingo" pattern by Burgess & Leigh, c. 1888

Alex and Ben admiring real flamingos at the San Francisco Zoo

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I thought the zebra on my transferware child's plate, "Visit to the Zebra," had the wrong amount of stripes.  It's not as if I am a zebra expert, but its hind quarters looked a bit sparse.  When I googled zebras, I discovered an animal, a subspecies to the zebra, called a quagga.  Its stripes looked a bit like the animal on my plate.  I learned that the quagga was plentiful on the plains of South Africa in the early 19th century, but was hunted to extinction by the end of the century.  One of the last quaggas in captivity lived in the  London Zoo (also known as the London Zoological Gardens or the Regent's Park Zoo) in the 1870s (see the photo below), and the last one in captivity died in the Amsterdam Zoo in 1883.  (The quagga from the London Zoo was stuffed and placed in storage in the British Museum).  Here is where the story becomes magic or science fiction!  There is a Quagga Project that recreated the quagga or a zebra that looks like a quagga by 2005.  The process is called selective breeding.   Quagga DNA was extracted from preserved quaggas in 1984, but the technology to use the DNA for breeding does not yet exist.   But, perhaps, we will be able to have a real visit to the quagga someday.

Child's Plate, "Visit To The Zebra," circa 1840
Photo of a quagga in the London Zoo, circa 1870

Saturday, April 13, 2013


My interest in toast racks began in 1966 in the antiques department at Marshall Field's department store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.  I saw a silver plated charming thing, and I had to have it.  I hadn't a clue as to its use.  When told that it was a toast rack, I decided that I would use it for mail.  Many years and many trips to England later, I encountered my first transferware toast rack.  The idea of actually using it for toast was remote (for me), but I thought I could use it for business cards or even more mail.  (The British actually use these things for toast).  My original silver plated toast rack is still working hard trying to contain my mail (see the last photo below).

1. English silver plated toast rack/late 19th or early 20th century/look at the last photo to see it filled with mail!

2. English silver plated toast rack

1. Transferware Toast Rack/"Peace" by Robinson, Wood & Brownfield, 1837

2. Transferware Toast Rack/"Peace" pattern, 1837

3. Transferware Toast Rack/"Peace" pattern, 1837

1. Transferware Toast Rack/Sheet pattern, c 1840

2. Transferware Toast Rack/Sheet Pattern, c. 1840

The toast rack as letter holder

Thursday, April 11, 2013


It is always lovely to hear from the readers of my blog.  They are mainly my friends or family (I guess they feel obligated to support me).  My friend, Dora Landey, sent me a photo of her lovely Spode Convolvulus pattern plate outlined in gold.  We both thought you might enjoy seeing it.  Pam Woolliscroft, who was the Curator of the Spode Museum in Stoke before it closed in 2008, sent a link to information about the Convolvulus pattern.  It is part of her excellent Spode History blog, (scroll down to Sheet Patterns).  Pam also mentioned that she eats off of Convolvulus pattern plates  every day.  Of course, she uses the newer versions that Spode made at the end of the 20th century.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


I didn't know anything about my backyard birds until I hung up a bird feeder.   Among all of the colorful birds that appeared, my favorite was the canary yellow goldfinch (the males are yellow with highlights of black and the females are brown).  It didn't seem possible that such colorful birds could have lived in my garden for thirty years without my ever having seen them!

The transferware connection is one of my favorite patterns:  The Goldfinch.   A bird sits on a branch surround by roses, convolvulus, and other flowers.  I learned that the goldfinch printed on the plate is an English or European goldfinch which has white feathers decorated with highlights of yellow, black and beige. Its head is capped with red. The goldfinch in my garden is an American goldfinch which is mainly gold with accents of black and white.  I fed my goldfinches for about a year.  I would have fed them forever, but the squirrels arrived.  I added a dome over the bird feeder (see the photo I took from my kitchen window) which was supposed to discourage the squirrels.  It did not.  They learned to climb the side of my house and leap onto the bird feeder!  Still, I like squirrels, so I purchased more bird food.  Then the rats appeared.  Many of them.  I felt I had created a health hazard rather than a bird environment, so I removed the feeder.  Sadly.

I did learn a lot about California native birds, squirrels and their persistence, and rats.  I may also have learned a life lesson.  If you put out a bird feeder, you don't always know who will come.  Or how it will turn out.
"The Goldfinch" 9.75" plate, circa 1820, maker unknown

Bird feeder outside my kitchen window.  There are two goldfinches feeding, but they are hard to see.  Notice the dome over the feeder.

American Goldfinch

English Goldfinch

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Imagine a zoo without a giraffe!  In 1827, George IV was given a giraffe (the first ever in Britain) by Mehemet Ali, the Viceroy of Egypt, for his menagerie at Windsor Park.  The poor giraffe did not live long, as it died in 1829.  Had it lived, it would have been donated in 1830 by the new king, William IV,  along with the other animals from the Royal Menagerie, to the London Zoological Gardens.  (For information about the London Zoo, see my January 19 and January 21 posts).  The Zoological Society commissioned a M. Thibaut to go in search of a giraffe.  He captured eight giraffes, four of which died quickly from the cold,  but the other four, three males and a female, reached England on May 25, 1836.   The giraffes were taken to the London Zoo, where they were met with a huge amount of enthusiasm by both the zoological community and the general public.

The Staffordshire potters, always quick to capitalize on what was popular, created patterns that celebrated the gentle and exotic giraffe.  John Ridgway's (1830-1841) "Giraffe" pattern copied a print titled "The Giraffes with the Arabs who brought them over to this Country" by the engraver for the London Zoo, George Scharf.  It shows the giraffe handlers plus the three male giraffes.  The female giraffe appears on the tea service, but that is a story for another day.  All of the sizes and shapes in this pattern have the same center.  I think it was printed in every color except yellow, although I personally haven't seen a black or pink printed example.  However, I did own a cheese stand in gray.  One can never say never when it comes to transferware.

For more information about Ridgway's "Giraffe" pattern, see the delightful article, "Giraffomania," by Nancy Barshter in the Summer 2006 Transferware Collectors Club Bulletin,

"Giraffe" pattern platter by John Ridgway (1830-1841)

Source print for Ridgway's "Giraffe" pattern.  The artist is George Johann Scharf (1788-1860)

"Giraffe" mark (1836)/It is interesting because it is an example of a mark that includes copyright information before the Copyright Act of 1842

"Giraffe" in teal transfer

"Giraffe" in brown transfer