Thursday, October 31, 2013


Tim Bobbin 5.75 in. creamware plate, ca. 1820
I purchased a child's plate during the show and sale at the Transferware Collectors Club annual meeting in Boston.  Its odd print and rhyme intrigued me.  I had never heard of Tim Bobbin before, so I saw an opportunity to do some research.

Tim or Timothy Bobbin was the pseudonym of John Collier (December 18, 1708 - July 14, 1786).  He was an English caricaturist and satirical poet who made fun of both the upper and lower classes.  His etchings were widely reproduced and some were featured on ceramics such as the plate above.  The text and illustrations are from The Human Passions Delineated, a series of illustrated verses satirizing the contrasts between rich townies and poor country people which was first published in 1773.   Although the size of the plate and the molded border were most often used for children's patterns, the Tim Bobbin subject matter appears intended for adults.  The text is as follows: "But here old merry Kate, and Nan, and Bess,/Find nearer ways to climb to happiness./Gin, punch, and flip, are all there (sic) sole delight./They laugh at th' world and swear they're only right."

Tim Bobbin print, 1773
One of my favorite books is Gifts For Good Children - The History Of Children's China 1790-1890 by Noel Riley (1991).  Riley shows four patterns that feature Tim Bobbin in the chapter titled Caricature And Humour.  Riley also feels that the patterns and verses are "not very childish."

Tim Bobbin close-up/Notice how faithful the copper plate engraver was to the original source print
Do you think a pattern making fun of gin (so cheap, a penny for a large quantity, that it was feared  the English population would collapse from drunkenness), punch (alcoholic to be sure) and flip (flip was made by mixing ale with sugar, adding eggs and a spice such as nutmeg or cinnamon and then a liberal portion of rum or whiskey) was intended for a child?   Or, is this just another inappropriate pattern for children?


Thursday, October 24, 2013


Boston State House, John Rogers & Son (1815-1842), 10 in. plate

The Boston State House today.  Still in use.  No cows.

Some of you know that I am one of the founders of the Tranferware Collectors Club.  This October we held our 14th annual meeting in Boston (October 17, 18, 19 and 20).  I thought I'd share some of the highlights of the meeting with the hope that you will be enticed to come to our 15th annual meeting in Mendenhall,  Pennsylvania and at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware next October (16, 17, 18, 19, 2014).

We toured Boston and the surrounding area.  We heard eight lectures* (for a list of the titles of the lectures, see below) and saw lots of pottery.  We visited the Boston State House, the Old State House, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and more. The weather was gorgeous (this was pure luck).
Picking up Fall Color near Boston

I didn't know there was an Old State House.  I photographed it sitting happily among the modern buildings that surround it. 
Old State House Boston
The Old State House was built in 1713 and was the seat of the Massachusetts legislator until 1798.   It is the oldest surviving building in Boston and today serves as a history museum.  You can see the Old State House in the print below which is titled "The Boston Massacre."  It was engraved by Paul Revere after a design by Henry Pelham.  The bloody skirmish between the British soldiers and the citizens of Boston occurred on March 5, 1770.  This information is totally an aside, but an interesting one!

"The Boston Massacre"/notice the Old State House in the background. 
Curators at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA) welcomed us with a tour of some of the collections that included transferware.

Teapots at the MFA/notice the transferware examples
These are just a few of the highlights of the Boston meeting.  I close with a child's mug that I wish was still available as a souvenir of Boston.

"Present from Boston" 2 in. by 2.18 in. child's mug, ca. 1830
*Lectures/Peggy Sutor: "Architecture As Seen on Historical Blue Transferware, 1815-1835, Part II: The New England States," Pam Woolliscroft: "The Josiah Spodes, Pottery Pioneers," Dick Henrywood: "English Views and Their Sources," Dick and Judy Wagner: "Frank and Sissie: Beardsmores, Bennetts & Pots," Pam Woolliscroft: "Pots of Orchids: The Spode Bateman Connection," Louise Richardson: "Starting Over at Fifty: A Northern Ireland Merchant's Move to Portsmouth, NH in 1796," Royce Walters: "Westward Ho! And the Transferware Market in the Early Midwest," and Terry Woolliscroft: "The Tale of the Toilet." 

Monday, October 7, 2013


I am going to visit Philadelphia.  I lived there for the first 22 years of my life.  Even though I have spent more that 40 years in California, I still feel like a Philadelphian.   I certainly still sound like one!

Although I don't generally collect tranferware printed with American historical views, I do collect Philadelphia views (or at least the more common and less expensive items).  The Transferware Collectors Club shows 31 Philadelphia views, but I shall show you three of my favorites.

The Dam and Water Works, Philadelphia by Henshall, Williamson & Co. (1790-1828), 10 in. plate

Fair Mount Near Philadelphia by Joseph Stubbs (1822-1834), 10 in. plate/Notice the eagles in the border
Below is a souvenir for a child.  It features a goldfinch.  I would love to find this mug in a souvenir shop!
Present from Philadelphia by Maker Unknown, ca. 1830, 2.25 in. mug

Thursday, October 3, 2013


I took a photo of a robin standing on the birdbath in my garden.  He posed for about five minutes.

An American robin perched on the rim of the birdbath in my garden
A close-up of the American robin
Robins were the first birds I knew as a child, so I thought I'd see how they appeared on 19th century British transferware.   Before I looked for photos on my hard disk, I checked online for information about robins.  I was surprised to discover that American robins and European robins are not the same! 
A European robin
According to Wikipedia, "the American Robin is a migratory songbird of the thrush family.  It is named after the European Robin because of its reddish-orange breast, though the two species are not closely related, with the European Robin belonging to the flycatcher family."  The study of transferware continues to lead me to new knowledge.

Here are some transferware robin patterns I found on mugs and plates made for 19th century children.  The birds all appear to be European robins.

Brownhills Pottery (1872-1896) "Robin" mug, 2.75 in.

"Cock Robin" 2.25 in. mug
"Little Robin Redbreast" 5.5 in. child's plate (charming despite the crack)

"Little Robin Redbreast" 2 in. mug (same pattern as above)
I thought I'd add a robin pattern that illustrates an old nursery rhyme.  It is one I included in my article titled "Inappropriate Patterns for Children," that can be seen on the  Transferware Collectors Club website. 
"The Death Of Cock Robin" 3 in. mug

"The Death Of Cock Robin"

"The Death Of Cock Robin"