Wednesday, August 27, 2014


About a year ago, I wrote a post titled Collecting Pottery in Earthquake Country.   I have lived in California since 1971, so I have experienced a few earthquakes, including the Loma Prieta in 1989.  On Sunday, August 24, 2014, I was awakened by another earthquake.  Luckily, I had no damage, as I am located about 80 miles from the earthquake epicenter.  My friend, Diane, wasn't so lucky.  She lives much closer to Napa.   Here is a photo of a plate that was on a table.  A decorative wooden carousel horse fell from the top of a cupboard onto it.  Luckily, the cupboard was bolted to the wall!  There was no other damage.

Enoch Wood & Sons  (1818-1846) Commodore MacDonnough's Victory 10 inch plate broken because of the August 24, 2014 earthquake.  It is being held together by cellophane tape.
Diane's cupboard is bolted to the wall and the plates are attached to the cupboard with museum wax (notice the carousel horse on top of the cupboard before it was knocked off by the earthquake).
Diane's plate rack is bolted to the wall and the pottery is stuck down with museum wax.
I shall remind you again that a big earthquake is like a bomb, but it is still important to be prepared.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Child's mug 2.41 inch by 2.62 inch, Going To School, ca. 1830
Palo Alto children have returned to school this week, so I thought I would share some of the transferware patterns that have school as a subject.  Here are a few that illustrate going to school and coming home.

Child's 5 inch plate Going To School (hard to see the writing at the bottom of the print), ca. 1830 
Child's plate, 7.12 inches. The pattern is part of a series copied from The School-boy by William Upton (Darton, 1820).  The entire text reads: "GOING TO SCHOOL/The Satchel on his back you see,/The first in School the last to flee,/And says he ne'er a Truant be/THE SCHOOL-BOY!" ca. 1830
Thomas Patterson & Co. (1827-1847) child's plate, 7.75 inches. Going to School is part of a series of children's plates that depicts children's activities.
Thomas Patterson & Co. (1827-1847) child's plate, 7.75 inches Returned From School/ This is a companion plate to Going To School/The boy and his dog definitely look happier!

Child's plate, 7.12 inches He Returns from The School-Boy series (see above)

Coming Out Of School 7.12 inch child's plate

Some of the patterns were intended to be rewards for doing well in school.
Present for going to School 3 inch child's mug, ca. 1820

For Improvement at School 5.12 inch child's plate with a shell edge, ca. 1820

Some showed children playing school with their dolls and others showed the nursery or infant school.

Darning egg, Our Early Days, shows a girl teaching the alphabet to her dolls
The School 7.75 inch plate, ca. 1820

Source print for The School plate above.  It is an illustration from a book titled The Governess by William Upton, 1812. Although all of the children appear to be girls, 19th century boys this young would have had long hair and worn dresses. 
Twenty-first century school children and their teachers

Saturday, August 16, 2014


My brother-in-law gave me an embroidered animal alphabet that was made in 1944.  I love alphabet animals and I was born in 1944, so I love the gift. Animals have often been used to teach the alphabet, so I thought I would show you how animals and the alphabet were used by 19th century British potters to teach children their ABCs (I doubt I have ever used the words animal and alphabet so often in one paragraph!)

Animal alphabet embroidery 29 inches by 26 inches, 1944/Notice the strange "I" animal/  Is it an ibex?
Apple, Ape, Air, alphabet plate, 6.25 inches. The pattern was intended to teach the alphabet. It would have been part of a series that included all of the letters./Notice that the border is a molded alphabet

E begins Elephant, Eagle, and Eggs alphabet plate, 7 inches. This pattern was used as a teaching tool, and is part of a series that would have included the whole alphabet.

E Was an Eagle, and sat among Rocks alphabet plate, 7.5 inches. Patterns with letters were used as teaching tools for children.
H begins Horse, whose paces are swift alphabet plate, 5.12 inches. This pattern is part of a series that teaches the letters of the alphabet.

Lamb. Lion. Lamp alphabet or ABC plate, size unknown. The pattern would have been part of a series of all the letters of the alphabet.

Wild Animals, The Lion alphabet plate, 7.25 inches.  Made by Brownhills Pottery (1872-1896), the series includes 8 animal patterns

Pig, Pigeon, Pins alphabet plate, size unknown.  The pattern is surrounded by a molded alphabet border

Octagonal alphabet plate, 6.5 inches. Children's patterns with alphabet letters were used as teaching tools. The above pattern may have been part of the entire alphabet. However, it is hard to imagine a child receiving 26 plates or mugs as a gift! Perhaps, a pattern was chosen with the child's initials in mind.
You may already have noticed that A, L and P are part of the same series.  Try not to let the border or color confuse you.

Below is the cover of my alphabet and china book for children and adults.  I wrote about it in my blog post Dishy Animals ABC.  I am really passionate about animals and the alphabet.  Thank you Frank!

Dishy Animals ABC

Saturday, August 9, 2014


Saucer, 4.25 inches, printed in black with a pangolin, ca. 1820

A close-up of the saucer/The word pangolin is found among the leaves at the bottom of the photo

The source print for the pangolin is found in Histoire Naturelle by Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, ca. 1788

A photo of a saucer printed with an animal called a pangolin was sent to me to enter into the Transferware Collectors Club Pattern and Source Print Database.  I actually wondered if the animal was real.  Research showed that the pangolin is similar to an armadillo and an anteater. It has large plate-like scales, and in the past was thought to be a link between mammals and reptiles.  It is, however,  a mammal.  Pangolins are an endangered species as it is thought that its ground up scales are a cure for cancer or asthma. They are also considered a delicious exotic food. Their plight is similar to that of the rhinoceros which is hunted for the imagined magical and erotic properties of its horn.

Recently I saw video about pangolins on the Facebook page of the London Zoo (Zoological Society of London or ZSL).  It is an old truth that once you learn about something you see it everywhere.  The video is graphic and disturbing, but makes the point that using animals for selfish purposes is wrong.  Pangolins shouldn't go the way of the quagga (see my quagga post here), the carrier pigeon, or the dodo.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Nineteenth Century British Imperial Measures
The British Weights and Measures Act of 1824 standardized measuring quantities. The system of imperial units or the imperial system is also known as the British Imperial or Imperial Measure.  Happily for lovers of blue and white,  many mugs and jugs that conformed to these new standards were transfer printed.  According to The Dictionary of Blue and White Printed Pottery 1780-1880, Volume II by Coysh and Henrywood, they are usually marked with the words Imperial Measure and often include the Royal coat of arms.

Imperial Measure mug, 6 inches high by 4.25 inches in diameter/No printing on the sides/holds a quart of liquid
1 Quart Imperial Measure mug, 6.25 inches high by 4.12 inches in diameter
 1 Quart mug with a romantic scene on the side/it is the same on the other side

Imperial Measure quart jug, 6 inches high by 3.5 inches in diameter with the initial V R for Victoria Regina/The view is Bear Forest, Cork, Ireland

Side of Imperial Measure quart jug, Bear Forest, Cork, Ireland jug

Side of Imperial Measure quart jug, Bear Forest, Cork, Ireland jug
Imperial Measure pint mug 4.75 inches high by 3.5 inches in diameter /The view is Bear Forest, Cork, Ireland/This is an earlier version of this pattern (no VR for Victoria Regina)

Side of Imperial Measure pint mug, Bear Forest, Cork, Ireland jug

Side of Imperial Measure pint mug, Bear Forest, Cork, Ireland jug
Bovey Tracey Potteries (1842-1957)/The Gem pint mug/notice the absence of the Royal Coat of Arms/The mug illustrates three of the season/here, summer

Bovey Tracey Potteries (1842-1957)// The Gem pint mug/notice the absence of the Royal Coat of Arms/The mug illustrates three of the season/here, spring (Notice the Maypole)

Bovey Tracey Potteries (1842-1957)// The Gem pint mug/notice the absence of the Royal Coat of Arms/The mug illustrates three of the season/here, autumn
Britain is mainly on the metric system now, but not in pubs.  You can still buy a pint (or two)!  Probably not in a transfer printed mug.