Wednesday, July 31, 2013


To paraphrase Dylan Thomas,  "Today is my sixty-ninth year to heaven."  The beginning of my seventieth year.  I am a war baby, not a baby boomer.  Born during the nadir of the 20th century,  I came of age during the affluent fifties.  My life has been blessed with mostly good things.  I have plenty of comforts;  family, friends, love, and work.   My mother is hosting my birthday lunch.  My granddaughter will be there.  Life is good.  (Kinehora!)*

"A Birth Day Gift" child's mug/iron red transfer with yellow glaze, circa 1820

Nineteenth century child's plate with a molded alphabet border.  The words are Dutch for "Happy Day Of Your Birth." 

* Kinehora is the Jewish equivalent of "Knock on Wood."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I always think of the end of July as the apex of summer.  All of the fruit, flowers and vegetables are at their biggest and juiciest.  Some of my favorite transferware patterns that express this fullness were made by Stubbs & Kent, Joseph Stubbs, and Davenport in patterns known today as  Fruit and Flowers.  Sometimes the ampersand is used in the title (Fruit & Flowers).  The fruit and flowers vary on each size.  The Pattern and Source Print Database of the Transferware Collectors Club shows six patterns by Stubbs & Kent (1822-1830), two patterns by Joseph Stubbs (1822-1834), and 9 patterns by Davenport (1794-1887).  The Davenport patterns are circa 1825.

Stubbs & Kent Fruit and Flowers 19 inch by 15 inch platter

Davenport Fruit and Flowers 18.5 inch by 14.75 inch platter

Wall of Davenport Fruit and Flowers/Notice how each size has a different selection of fruit in the center
Although the Stubbs and Davenport patterns are similar, have you noticed the differences?  The Stubbs and Stubbs & Kent pattern are the same (except for the variations in the center from size to size).

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I purchased a damaged 1830s purple transferware platter with a cartoon-like pattern that looked like it would be interesting to research.  The words "Cadiz Puerto Franco" and the date "1829" helped me to find some information on what appears to be a rather obscure piece of European history (at least to me).  Of course, that is no surprise since my knowledge of European history is a bit sketchy.

"Cadiz Puerto Franco Plus Ultra 1829" 20 inch by 16 inch platter, c. 1830

The design commemorates the creation of the Puerto Franco de Cadiz or Free Port of Cadiz by decree of the Spanish King in 1829.   The man has his hands on two lions, always symbols of power.  He is wearing what appears to be a lion's mane and ears!  Nautical symbols of an anchor and sails on the left mix with the caduceus on the right, which is the symbol of commerce.  I read that the caduceus is often mistakenly used as a symbol of medicine, especially in North America, due to historical confusion with the traditional medical symbol of the rod of Asclepius.  The Rod of Asclepius has only a single snake and no wings. 

Cadiz close-up

It is probable that the pattern was made as a special order for the Free Port of Cadiz.  Both James & Ralph Clews and John & William Ridgway used the border and inner stringing seen above on their Tuscan Rose pattern, so it is not clear as to the maker.  However, John Du Croz was a retailer/wholesaler in London in the early 1800s and was at Skinner Street from 1811-1837.  The shape and the color of the platter, as well as the subject matter, date it to the early 1830s.

Du Croz wholesaler mark on the back of the Cadiz platter

Monday, July 22, 2013


It looked like a baby bath or a large flower pot.  I learned it was a foot bath (sometimes spelled footbath).  Even though I didn't need a foot bath, I bought it anyway.  A use can always be found for something beautiful.  I use mine for dried flowers, needlepoint canvases that I'll never finish, TV remotes, newspapers, and children's books.  It is really a gorgeous container for the detritus of my life. 
My foot bath is a beautiful container for everything!
It is 18 inches by 14 inches by 9 inches high and weighs a lot.  The pattern is Maxstoke Castle, Warwickshire, a fortified manor house or castle that was built circa 1365.  The foot bath dates from around 1825.   It is part of what is known as the Foliage Border Series by the ubiquitous Unknown Maker.  The great Unknown copied the pattern from a book titled "Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland," published in 11 volumes (1818-1829) by John Preston Neale.

You can buy a foot bath today.  Amazon has one that offers "soothing heat and power hydro jets" for your tired feet.  It is made of plastic and metal and is not very pretty, but it probably does a better job on your feet than my foot bath!

"Maxstoke Castle, Warwickshire" foot bath, circa 1825

"Maxstoke Castle, Warwickshire" pattern mark

Source print for "Maxstoke Castle, Warwickshire" foot bath

Maxstoke Castle, Warwickshire today
Inside the foot bath/A mess contained!

Friday, July 19, 2013


I purchased a very charming but very damaged plate in 1982.  As I have said before, condition is a moot point when a pattern is lovely and rare (See Mona's Isle And A Lesson In Transferware Condition,  I was never able to learn anything about the pattern until I read John Griffin's book "The Don Pottery" in 2002 (published in 2001).  There on p. 113 was a photo of my pattern!  The plate in the book is marked with the transfer printed lion mark.  John told me it was a rare pattern, and he hoped "that the roses were the thornless variety."

Don Pottery (1801-1839) Cherub And Roses 10 inch plate/Notice the extreme wear to the center
I would like a perfect example, but in the last 31 years I have not seen another plate in this pattern for sale.  In the meantime, I have enjoyed looking at this charming cherub!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


What kind of a bird is this?

"Pintado" 5.25 inch plate

A guinea fowl.  The pattern was probably intended as a gift for a child.  The border has a particularly elegant combination of colors; blue, green and black.  It features a classical design of Greek keys, Vitruvian scrolls, grapes and grape leaves.

Seen below are two more patterns from what appears to be an odd assortment for a series.

Classical figure of Faith (always shown holding a cross) on a 4.5 inch cup plate. "Faith," along with 'Hope" and "Charity," features often as a pattern on a child's plate

Horse pattern on a  6.12 inch plate

Is it possible the patterns were intended for adults?

Sunday, July 14, 2013


I own a plate with a bucolic English scene titled "Cattle & Scenery" by Thomas Mayer (1826-1838).  The scene is charming, but I purchased it because of the intriguing label transfer printed at the top of the plate with the words "Jesse Brown, Washington City."  I learned from an excellent article written by Michael Weinberg for the Transferware Collectors Club Bulletin that Washington DC was known as Washington City for a short time in the first half of the 19th century,  and that Jesse Brown was the owner of a Washington hotel

Jesse Brown  purchased the Davis hotel in 1820 and renamed it Brown's Indian Queen. The Indian Queen was Pocahontas.  Brown ordered a dinner service from Thomas Mayer of Stoke-on-Trent & Longport in Staffordshire.  Each size of the pattern has a slightly different arrangement of cattle. (The word "cattle" is used in the old way to denote all domestic farm animals and not just cows).  Jesse Brown had his name and location printed at the top of each item.  Such good advertising!

"Cattle & Scenery" 10 inch plate by Thomas Mayer (1826-1838).  Note the transfer printed name of the hotel owner at the top of the plate.

"Cattle & Scenery" printed Mayer mark

Jesse Brown's hotel in Washington City (DC) in 1832.  Photo from the Library of Congress

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


My friend, Dora, has a lovely display of 19th century pepper pots.  You might think they could also be salt shakers, but they were only intended for pepper.  You would have used a salt dish or what is  known as a salt cellar for the salt.  Additionally, unlike today,  pepper and salt containers were not sold as pairs.   Although the pepper pots vary in shape and size, they are similar to today's pepper shaker.  Look carefully, and you'll see that the holes are on the top and on the sides near the top.  The pot is in one piece and has a hole in the bottom where you can fill it with pepper.  I assume you had to grind it first!  Sometimes the old cork for the bottom hole is still with the pot.

Early 19th Century Transferware Pepper Pots

English Pepper Pot circa 1830

I didn't have a good photo of a salt cellar,  but you can see its general shape.  You would have
used a salt spoon or your fingers.

English Salt Dish or Salt Cellar, Willow Pattern Border, Circa 1840

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Cambrian Rose by C.M. & C.J. Mason (1813-1826)
Roses are probably the best known and most popular flower.  I am sure not everyone will agree, but I love them!  They are also popular transferware patterns.  Here are a few among many.  It was hard for me to choose.

"Moss Rose" by Job & John Jackson (1831-1835)

Pattern #48 by Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846)

Cabbage Roses on a child's plate with molded border, c. 1830

Rose pattern on an arcaded plate by Thomas Lakin (1810-1817)

Rose pattern by Josiah Wedgwood, c. 1825

Roses on a Spode Botanical platter, c. 1820

Roses in my July garden

Wednesday, July 3, 2013



One of my favorite American Historical patterns was made by James and Ralph Clews (1813-1834) around 1825.  To me it epitomizes the hope and innocence of the new United States.  Known as Peace and Plenty (the words seen on the shield along with the seal of the United States), the scene is one of abundance.  Flowers and fruit overflow from the border.   The figure is supposedly Cincinnatus (519 BC-430 BC), the Roman statesman who was created dictator of Rome in order to defeat Rome's enemies.  After completing the task, he resigned his office and went back to being a farmer (albeit an aristocratic one).  George Washington has been compared to Cincinnatus as he refused the offer to be the lifelong ruler of the United States (think king).  When his term was up as president, he went back to his farm at Mount Vernon.  Washington certainly added to the peace and plenty of the United States both literally and figuratively.

Peace And Plenty by James & Ralph Clews/I took the platter off my wall, so I left the hanger on.

Peace and Plenty Close-Up
When I look at this pattern, I think about what the United States meant to my maternal grandfather, Samuel Berenson.  One of my earliest memories is seeing him put the flag out to celebrate July 4.  I asked him why he did it.  He explained the history of the holiday, and why his own history made him love the United States so much.   He was from a poor Jewish family in Tsarist Russia.  Jews weren't allowed to be Russian citizens, but they did have to pay taxes and serve in the Russian army.  They weren't protected by law.  He was told that the United States was a place of opportunity.  That all people were protected by law (as we know now, not all people).  He still had to pay taxes and serve in the military, but he could become a citizen.  He called the United States the "Promised Land." 

He died on July 5, 1952.  He didn't want to miss celebrating July 4.

Sam Berenson circa 1902

Sam Berenson's great great granddaughter