Friday, June 28, 2013


A friend from San Diego brought me eggs from her chickens.  She is a transferware lover, and wondered if there were chickens on transferware.  I showed her a bunch of patterns.  Chickens were  useful barnyard animals in rural areas in 19th century Britain as well as the rest of the world (and still are).  They are experiencing a renaissance as useful pets in suburban and urban households today.  The last photo shows some gorgeous chickens in the backyard of a California suburban house.  Legally, you can have chickens in a non-rural area as long as you don't have a rooster.  I am tempted to buy a few.

Saucer, mother and child feeding chickens, c. 1825

Child's plate with girls feeding chickens, c. 1835

Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) child's plate, c. 1825

Child's mug with girl feeding chickens, c. 1840

Custard cup with girl feeding chicken, c. 1825

Pet chickens at home in suburbia

Monday, June 24, 2013


I have been reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's superb book, "Americanah."  It is about many things, but it got me thinking about prejudice and caricature.  It also made me reassess the few transferware patterns that I found too racially loaded, as well as disgusting to me personally, for the TCC Pattern and Source Print Database.  You need to know that I am not particularly squeamish about patterns that represent 19th century life and beliefs.  I do not believe in censorship.  However,  I think racially distorted pictures are offensive and can fuel the flames of prejudice.  Or, perhaps they are they a jumping off place to talk about prejudice (especially as the patterns shown here were made for children).

The pattern below is part of a series that makes fun of people and/or occupations while focusing on the craze of hobby riding that was popular in the 19th century.  (A hobby is a forerunner of the bicycle, invented by Baron Karl von Drais.  In 1818, a London coach-maker named Denis Johnson began producing an improved version, which was popularly known as the "hobby-horse."  Another name for this vehicle is the velocipede).   All the patterns are supposedly humorous, but the pattern below goes beyond humor to ethnic stereotyping.  The "Jew" is riding a bag of "Old Clothes" or perhaps it is a bag of money.  He has an exaggerated hooked nose and scraggly beard.  He reminds me of the 1930s Nazi propaganda caricatures of Jews.

"The Welchmans Hobby" is equally loaded with caricature, but the goat and cheese wheels soften the caricature.  Noel Riley in her book "Gifts For Good Children" shows 6 patterns in this series, including "The Jews Hobby."  The other patterns poke gentle fun at the sailor, the dandy, John Bull, the alderman, and the doctor.   Perhaps "The Jews Hobby" was considered funny in the 19th century.

Another series of patterns, which were made to teach arithmetic to children in a humorous way, uses caricatures of Africans to portray the subject.  "Subtraction," for example,  shows a child stealing a wallet from a man.  Both characters have exaggerated African features, and the act of stealing is a poor example of "subtraction."   At least to me.  Noel Riley shows six patterns in this series, including decimal, division, multiplication, improper fractions and division.

The last is a pattern with the words "Drink to me only with thine eyes & I will pledge with mine," which is an old English song.  The lyrics are from Ben Jonson's "Song To Celia" (1615).  The poem and song are lovely, but the exaggerated features of the African people on the plate are not.  Is this appropriate humor? Or, an appropriate pattern for a child?

I don't think the intent of the potters was to promulgate prejudice, but the stereotypes that they printed on plates for children fueled the flames of the ridicule of minorities.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Ralph Stevenson & Son (1810-1835) "Millenium" 10 inch soup plate

"Millenium" close-up

The first thing I noticed when I looked at the mark (I always look for a mark on the back) was that it was misspelled!   I always find misspellings amusing unless I happen to be the culprit.  The wonderful symbolism of the pattern more than makes up for a missing "n."  The pattern was so popular in the United States (I hear it is rare to find in Britain) that it was printed in every color except yellow.

"Millenium" pattern mark

The word "Millennium" comes from the Latin "mille" meaning thousand and "annus" meaning year. It refers to the second coming of Christ who would rule for a thousand years before the Last Judgment. At the top of the plate is the all-seeing eye of God. Below is the Bible opened to Isaiah's prophecy, Ch.XI:6: "The wolf also shall dwell with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them." This describes the scene in the center of the plate. The dove and the olive branch are symbolic of "Peace on Earth" which is written below them. The man beneath the center scene is a follower of Christ reciting the "Lord's Prayer," which includes "Give us this day our daily bread." The lush fruit, flowers, and sheaves of grain in the border symbolize the fertility of nature that will abound during the Millennium.  It is understandable that the meaning of the symbolism as well as the charm of the pattern made for a best seller in 19th century America.

I have added a photo of a 6 inch plate to show you how the pattern was made to fit the smaller size.  It's up to you to figure out what is missing!

"Millenium" 6 inch plate

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


"The Learned Dog" 2 inches high by 1.75 inches in diameter
Dogs are popular transferware patterns.  They are particularly popular on patterns made for children.  The pattern here has a dual purpose; to delight and to teach.  The dog stands on the entire alphabet on this tiny 2 inch by 1.75 inch mug.  I doubt the mug is big enough to hold much liquid (which is probably why it still is here nearly 200 years after it was made).  But it is big enough for young eyes to pick out all of the letters of the alphabet.  What a fun way to learn them!

I used this pattern on the cover of my book, "Dishy Animals ABC."  You probably noticed that the pattern on the mug below is printed on a white ground instead of yellow.   I would be happy to have the pattern in any color! 

"Dishy Animals ABC" (I am shamelessly promoting by book again!)
"The Learned Dog" 2.56 inches high by 2.38 inches in diameter

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Joe Rudolph, circa 1942

When I was born in July, 1944, my father Joseph Rudolph was in Italy as part of the U.S. Italian Campaign (World War II).  He was a doctor in the front lines.  He earned a purple heart and a bronze star.  He was 27.  I didn't see him until I was 15 months old.

He was a war hero.  He was an excellent pediatrician and subsequently child psychoanalyst.  He was an omnivorous reader (he passed that on to me), a card player (poker), a fisherman (he took me along on many of his fishing trips), a lover of mysteries, a fanatic John Wayne fan and movie lover (actually any cowboy movie), a superb storyteller,  and a life-long student of everything.  He was the best of husbands (ask my mom) and the best of dads and grandpas.  I was so lucky to have him for 59 years. 

There are many transferware patterns that celebrate fathers, but I thought I'd show the patterns that remind me most of my dad.

John Rogers & Son (1815-1842) 6 inch child's plate

Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) "Fisherman" pattern 10 inch plate

Enoch Wood & Sons "Fisherman" pattern mark/Notice the creel and net

Joe Rudolph with his grandson, Jonas Halpren, at his 80th birthday party in 1997

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Spode (1770-1833) "Aesop's Fables The Dog In The Manger" 19 inch platter, c. 1831 (Notice the fox heads in the border)
Spode (1770-1833) "Aesop's Fables The Dog In The Manger" printed mark

As the oldest of three children under the age of four, my mother often reminded me not to be "the dog in the manger."  It can be hard for a little kid to share, but the Aesop's Fable that went along with my mother's warning taught me a valuable lesson.  And, what little kid could resist a story about a dog.  Or wonder about the meaning of the word "manger."

As a collector of transferware, I was delighted to find that Spode and its successors made a multiple pattern dinner service titled "Aesop's Fables."   My favorite pattern, of course, is the 19 inch platter with a scene of "The Dog In The Manger."  A fierce looking dog is sitting in a manger or trough filled with hay while a defeated ox looks on.   The fable is as follows:  "One afternoon a dog lay down to sleep in a manger.  On being awoken, he ferociously kept the cattle on the farm from eating the hay on which he chose to sleep, even though he was unable to eat it himself.  The moral of the fable: People often begrudge others what they cannot enjoy themselves."   I will say that I was often the "doginthemanger" (I thought the four words were one!) around my two younger siblings.  I still remember that I wouldn't let my little sister have my glass of chocolate milk even though I didn't want to finish it!

"The Dog In The Manger" is one of the most popular of Aesop's Fables.  I found two more examples of the pattern on plates intended for 19th century children.  They would be good gifts for a 21st century child!

Unknown maker, "Aesop's Fables The Dog In The Manger" child's ABC 7.88 inch plate

Brownhills Pottery (1872-1896), "Aesop's Fables The Dog In The Manger" child's ABC 7.38 inch plate


Saturday, June 8, 2013


"From Mona's Isle" 5.5 inch child's plate demonstrating "Quocunque Jeceris Stabit"

"From Mona's Isle" 5.5 inch child's plate close-up, c. 1830s-40s.  Notice the terrible condition of the plate.

I purchased this extremely damaged 1830s child's plate because I was intrigued with its pattern.  It is poorly repaired with gloppy yellow glue and has pieces of pottery missing.  However, I wanted to study it, not sell it or display it, so I thought it was a worth having.  The price, $8, was reasonable.  I have learned that something rare and interesting gets a pass in the perfect department. 

Mona's Isle is the name of the first ship of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company (circa 1830).  Where is the Isle of Man?  It is located in the Irish Sea between Britain and Ireland.  I wasn't sure, so I looked it up.  I do know about Manx cats because they have no tails (apparently a spontaneous mutation).  I digress.

I was intrigued by the three legged symbol at the center of the plate, and the Latin words surrounding it.  The symbol is known as a triskelion, which is the symbol of the Isle of Man.  The steam packet company took the logo as their own.  I read there are many variations of the triskelion, which is an ancient symbol, but the Manx Triskelion has three bent legs, each with a spur, joined at the thigh.  They (the legs) refer to the island's motto (found on the plate): Quocunque Jeceris Stabit which means "Whichever way you throw it, it will stand." It is an education to look up treskelion on the Internet. 

I originally started the "Dishy News" blog to share the information I learned from collecting and studying transferware.  Here I offer a short lesson in the triskelion, the whereabouts of the Isle of Man,  and transferware condition. And some Latin.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Or Magenta, Lavender, or Mulberry?

"What's in a name?"   My answer here would be that purple includes a lot of shades.

Ralph Hall (1822-1849) "Parisian Chateau" 8.5 inch plate, c. 1835

Unknown Maker, Cat with Cream 7.25 inch plate,  c. 1830

Thomas Fell & Co (1817-1890), Antiquarian pattern 9.75 inch plate, c. 1835

James and Ralph Clews (1813-1834) "Zoological Gardens" 8 inch plate, c. 1830

Unknown Maker "Sheep" pattern 5.62 inch child's plate, c. 1840

Unknown Maker, saucer showing a girl with a lamb and a sheep, c. 1830

Saturday, June 1, 2013


What is a cameleopard?  I saw a funny spotted animal on a small plate owned by my friend Dora Landey.  Perhaps it was an imaginary creature like a unicorn.  When I did a bit of googling, I discovered that "cameleopard" was the old name for a giraffe.  The ancient Romans used the word and so did the British in the 19th century.  The scientific name for the giraffe is Giraffa Camelopardalis.  Eventually it was called a giraffe after the Arabic word "zirafah" which means "tallest of them all." 

"Cameleopard" 4.25 inch plate with a molded border of alternating animals and birds

The source print for the Cameleopard is probably copied from Georges-Louis LeClerc Comte de Buffon's (1707-1788) "Histoire Naturelle" (1749-1788, in 36 volumes).  Buffon was a French naturalist who greatly influenced the study of natural history.

"The Cameleopard" from Buffon's 18th century work "Histoire Naturelle"
 I liked the cameleopard plate so much that I used it to represent the letter "X" in my book, "Dishy Animals ABC."  I couldn't find an "X" animal, so I used the word "Exotic."  The cameleopard (giraffe) was definitely an exotic animal in the 19th century.

"X" from "Dishy Animals ABC"
You can read more about my book here: