Sunday, September 28, 2014


Brown-Westhead, Moore & Co. (1862-1904) Fables 12 inch platter featuring the Tortoise and the Hare, ca, 1880

I have loved Aesop's Fables since I was a little girl.  One of my favorites and one of the most popular is The Tortoise and the Hare.  I liked that the possibility of winning could come to a slow runner (me).  At five I thought of the race as a foot race, now I think of it as life.  The moral of the fable is "Slow and steady wins the race."  Or, perhaps it is that hubris can cause you to lose the race.  Sometimes a moral can be ambiguous.

The Tortoise and the Hare is also a popular transferware pattern.  It features on patterns for children as well as on dinnerware items.

Brownhills Pottery (1872-1896) 6.25 inch plate printed with Aesop's Fables The Hare And The Tortoise

William T. Copeland (1847-1970) soup tureen lid printed with The Fox, the Hare and the Tortoise, ca. 1880. I guess the fox is the judge of the race.  Or, perhaps, this is a totally different fable!
I have written about Aesop's Fables in other blog posts.  See The Fox and the Grapes and The Dog in the Manger.  The fables are as enjoyable to me today as they were when I was little.

Five year old Judie

Saturday, September 20, 2014


The Play Fellow 7.5 inch dish/notice it is held together with masking tape (broken during the shipping)
I bought a lovely dish* printed with The Play Fellow, which shows a young girl admonishing her cat who is lusting after a bird.  I think a dog would be a better play fellow than a cat.  I have lived with cats for nearly 50 years, and I have never had one that I would describe as a play fellow.  Perhaps a kitten.  I noticed that a child's plate in my collection was printed with the same pattern, but the text was quite different; "Who tould (sic) you of all things death/Should never be Forgot/My Grandfather." I guess the cat is going to succeed in getting the bird.  Thus the warning. 

The pattern on the 4.5 inch plate is the same as above.  The poem My Grandfather is from a picture sheet published by William Darton, Jr., ca. 1812-1815.  The poem was written by William Upton.
I doubt most twenty-first century parents or grandparents would give a plate with this text to a child.  I wrote about inappropriate patterns for children in another blog post as well as for an article for the Transferware Collectors Club Bulletin.  See the link here.

*You may have noticed that the dish (a large saucer-shaped piece) is broken.  It arrived via USPS in four pieces plus flakes.  I taped it together.  I never throw out pieces of 19th century pottery.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Another of my favorite transferware patterns is Arctic Scenery.  I find it amusing that arctic scenes are paired with non-arctic animals (perhaps not all are African).  As the editor of the Animals category of the Transferware Collectors Club Pattern and Source Print Database, I really enjoyed researching (this is a continuing project) the animal borders.  There are different animals on the borders of nearly each size and shape, and many natural history books served as repositories of source prints.

Arctic Scenery 10. 5 inch plate, ca. 1835/maker unknown
The border animals on the 10.5 inch dinner plate above are clockwise from the top;  a pied goat or harnessed antelope, a lion, a jaguar, and an axis or ganges stag. The pied goat (also called a harnessed antelope) is copied from Thomas Bewick's A General History of Quadrupeds, which was first published in 1790.  The jaguar and the axis/ganges stag are also copied from Bewick.  The lion is copied from The History of the Earth and Animated Nature by Oliver Goldsmith, which was first published in 1774.   I was familiar with Oliver Goldsmith who was the author of The Vicar of Wakefield and She Stoops to Conquer.  I didn't know he was also a naturalist.  The History of the Earth And Animated Nature appeared in print in eight volumes in 1774.  It proved to be very popular and stayed in print throughout the 19th century.

The Lion and The Lioness from The History of the Earth and Animated Nature by Oliver Goldsmith*
In case you wondered about the lioness, she and her cubs are on the border of the platter seen below. However,  she was copied from William Jardine's Naturalist's Library, ca. 1833.  The Naturalist's Library was published in 40 volumes between 1833 and 1843.

Arctic Scenery platter

The Lion  from Naturalist's Library by William Jardine, ca. 1833

I am still looking for the source print of the man riding an ostrich.  So far I have only found a child's plate with the same pattern!

Child's plate illustrated with a man riding an ostrich/same as the pattern found in the border of the platter above

The sauce tureen undertray features a kangaroo in the border.  It is from Bewick.  I need to research the other animals.  A job for another day.

Arctic Scenery sauce tureen undertray/notice the kangaroo in the border

The Kanguroo from Thomas Bewick's A General History of Quadrupeds
These are all of the border patterns I have researched so far.  Stay tuned.  If you are interested in information about the center patterns and their source prints, see the Transferware Collectors Club Facebook page, where some of the Arctic Scenery patterns have been illustrated and discussed.  If you are a TCC member, search the database where 14 Arctic Scenery patterns are listed.

* If The Lion and The Lioness source print looks familiar, it appears in my blog post titled Lions.  Benjamin Adams copied the print for their Lions pattern, ca. 1820. 

Lions pattern 10 inch plate by Benjamin Adams, ca. 1820

Sunday, September 7, 2014


While listening to an NPR (National Public Radio) segment about beavers, I learned that the Eurasian beaver was coming back from the brink of extinction in Europe.  I also learned that the North American beaver is very different from the Eurasian beaver.  It doesn't even have the same amount of chromosomes! North American beavers have 40 chromosomes and Eurasian beavers have 48.

As the editor of the Animals Category for the Pattern and Source Print Database of the        Transferware Collectors Club,  I have entered a few beaver patterns.  I now assume that the beaver on the interior of the wash bowl in the Enoch Wood & Sons Sporting Series is an Eurasian beaver.  It is copied from A Cabinet of Quadrupeds by John Church, which was published in 1805.  The engraver is James Tookey and the artist is Julius Caesar Ibbetson.

Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1847) wash bowl with the Sporting Series Beaver pattern, ca. 1825/The pattern is also found on a compote
Beaver from A Cabinet of Quadrupeds by John Church, 1805
One of the pleasures of looking at patterns is finding the unexpected.  I owned a reticulated tray in the Indian Scenery series by William Hackwood (1827-1843) which featured a beaver.  I realized that the beaver, which was nearly hidden in a Chinoiserie landscape, was copied from the same source print found above!
William Hackwood (1827-1843) Indian Scenery 10.5 inch pierced undertray
 The beaver that appears in the center of the Maple pattern by Thomas Furnival & Sons (1871-1890) is probably a North American beaver, as the beaver and maple leaf are traditional symbols of Canada.  
Thomas Furnival & Sons (1871-1890) Maple pattern 10.25 inch plate
North American Beaver/Caster canadensis

Eurasian Beaver
I write this blog so that I can share some of the things I learn from studying transferware patterns.  Beavers are very important to our planet.  I suggest that you follow the links to learn more about beavers.

Monday, September 1, 2014


Minton (1793-1872) Arabesque pattern treacle jar, ca. 1840
I purchased a jar with a flat screw lid because I liked the floral pattern. I hadn't a clue as to its use, but I knew I would enjoy the research.  I learned that the jar was used to store treacle, which is the English word for what Americans and Canadians call molasses.  The screw top, which is unusual for 19th century pottery, was necessary to keep out ants and other insects.

Minton Arabesque pattern treacle jar showing both sides of the screw lid

Hunting pattern treacle jar

Treacle jar Cattle pattern

Treacle jar

Treacle jar

Aesthetic Movement pattern treacle jar
As you can imagine, the earthenware screw lids  (and threading on the inside of the jars) were delicate.  If you screwed the lid on too tightly, it could break! 

The threading on the inside of the Minton jar/Notice that it is cracked in places