Sunday, November 30, 2014


Here is a history of the expansion of America as seen through the giveaway plates of the early 20th century.  Although they are not transferware, they are dishes!

Guest Posting by David Hoexter

Those of you who know me are aware of my passion for advertising ceramics. Up to three or so years ago, this passion had been limited to 19th Century English transfer-printed containers.  Then one day I discovered a plate featuring a 1910 calendar and nice center pattern, offered as a complimentary gift to customers by a merchant in Berkeley, California.  Berkeley is my home town; a new passion was created! 

Charles Hadlen Berkeley, CA plate, 1910
These plates are American, produced primarily in East Liverpool Ohio and nearby towns, were all complimentary from local merchants, and were primarily distributed between 1906 and 1921, peaking in 1910.  I have documented approximately 1,300 plates from 1910 to date, mainly from eBay.  The patterns are printed from decals; I have identified 191 patterns thus far.  

Ringing Out the Old, Ringing in the New Year
However, to me the fascinating aspect of these plates is not their patterns or method of manufacture, but the stories one can elicit by researching the merchants and the towns where they sold their wares.  I have learned about the settlement of North Dakota by the railroads, who laid thousands of miles of track across the state in just a few decades, and then provided free passage and often free land in exchange for the expectation that the farmers would ship their goods to market by rail (there was no alternative!).  Hundreds of towns were established along the rail lines, and not a few no longer exist or at best have managed to maintain the same minimal population as existed soon after they were founded. 
1910 Ludwig Dorr, Gardena, ND plate

North Dakota railroad map

Google Satellite and map views of Gardena, ND
I learned about the French Arpent system of land surveying, employed in Louisiana to provide maximum river access to growers so they could ship their crops by barge.  All of the rest of the US is surveyed under the Public Land Survey System, based on square sections and townships.  

1910 Adrien Gonsoulin, Loreauville, LA plate

Nearby Mississippi River seen in a Google Satellite view

 Loreauville, LA vicinity
I’ve observed the devastation of coal strip mining in West Virginia, and the huge influence of petroleum in 1910 Wyoming.  

Guyan Furniture Co, Logan, WV 1910 plate

Google Satellite view of the Logan vicinity; gray areas denote strip mining

Image of Logan, WV ca. 1910

Greybull Bank 1910 plate, Greybull, WY

Google Satellite image of the Greybull vicinity
And I have “discovered” Snelling, a quiet, lovely town at the far eastern side of the Central Valley here in my home state of California, with tree-lined streets, historic Gold Rush era (1849-1860s) buildings, and a history of gravel tailings dredging of gold.  

J.R. Horsley & Son 1910 plate, Snelling, CA

Google Satellite view showing town and dredge tailings

 Historic Gold Rush era building in Snelling, CA
And finally, the Silva Store, Eleele, Kauai, Hawaii, decades before Statehood.  You couldn’t get more remote!   

J.I. Silva, Eleele, Kauai 1913 plate

Silva store ca. 1900

Thursday, November 27, 2014


"Peace And Plenty" child's plate, ca. 1840

The text on the plate above says the things I wish for all of us this year.  What could be better than that?

Maybe Mary's mincemeat pie.  Wish I could share it with you.  The crust is the best.  Mary has been making the pie since the '50s.  Notice the Willow sauce tureen behind it.

My 2013 Thanksgiving table features Spode "Blue Italian" plates.  My plates were new in the 1970s, but the pattern was made by Spode from about 1816 to 2009.  I never use a tablecloth.  I really enjoy the beautiful quarter sawn oak table top.  No need to hide it.

Ralph & James Clews "Peace and Plenty" 16 inch platter, ca. 1825
I am ending this post with another "Peace and Plenty" transferware pattern.  We can always hope for both.  If you want to see more Thanksgivingish patterns, read my Thanksgiving post from last year.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Winemakers pattern, ca. 1820

I recently posted a photo of the Winemakers pattern on the Facebook page of the Transferware Collectors Club.  It is one of my favorite patterns.  Take a look at the post I wrote about the Winemakers in May 2013.  To my pleasant surprise,  Becky Wallis of Great Britain found the source print for the pattern in the superb database of the British Museum.  The print is also in the Metropolitan Museum archives.  The engraver was Giovanni Girolamo Frezza (1659-1741) after the artwork of Carlo Maratti (1625-1713).  The print date is 1704.

Source print for the Winemakers pattern, 1704

The Latin text is from Proverbs 3:9-11; "Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase; So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine."

A lovely proverb for the Holiday Season! 

Friday, November 14, 2014


Early 19th century transferware custard cups

Here are some questions I have asked myself about custard cups, as there appears to be some confusion.  What is a custard cup?  It is not a syllabub cup or a punch cup.  Does it have a saucer?  No.  What is custard?  It is a smooth and creamy dessert made with eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla.  Is it what Americans call pudding?  Yes (sort of).  According to the The Dictionary of Blue and White Printed Pottery 1780-1880, Vol. I by Coysh and Henrywood,  p. 100, "Up to and including the early 19th century it was common practice to serve custard as part of a sweet course in separate little glass cups with handles.  Pottery custard cups, some of which have lids, are not uncommon and examples are known from major factories such as Spode and Wedgwood.  These cups are made in a variety of shapes; one is shaped like a comma."

Etruscan pattern comma-shaped 2 inch by 2.5 inch custard cup, ca. 1820/Notice the wraparound pattern and serrated edge
Another view of the Etruscan pattern custard cup
Another view of the Etruscan pattern custard cup
A Spode  (1770-1833) Greek Pattern (border only) 3.5 inch high custard cup with lid, ca. 1820

Chinoiserie pattern 2.5 inch by 3 inch custard cup
Ralph Hall (1822-1849) Select Views 2.5 inch by 3.25 inch custard cup/only the border is used/see the other side in the group photo above
Feeding Chickens 3 inch by 3 inch custard cup
Dark blue 2.5 inch by 2.5 inch custard cup
I have one more question.  The spoons must have been small.  Is there a custard spoon?

If you are tempted to make custard, here is an easy and delicious recipe. If you want to learn some custard/pudding history, look here.

Friday, November 7, 2014


Child's 2.5 inch mug For My Dear Boy, ca. 1820/What is the dog doing to the preacher?

Liam is one today.  I wrote about his birth in Present For My Dear Boy, where I showed some children's patterns intended as gifts for loved boys (Christening, doing well in school, good behavior and just because).   Here are some more patterns.  All are from the first half of the 19th century.

Child's 2.68 inch alphabet mug For A Good Boy

Child's 2.62 inch mug A Present for A Good Boy

Child's 2.5 inch mug For My Dear Boy

Child's 2 inch mug Present For My Dear Boy/A fox carrying off a goose by its neck is to me an inappropriate pattern for children!

Child's 7.5 inch plate For a good Boy
My Dear Boys

Saturday, November 1, 2014


I bought three things at the Show and Sale at the Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Transferware Collectors Club; The Rabbit On The Wall, Cameleopard, and Godiva And Peeping Tom Of Coventry.

Ralph & James Clews Rabbit On The Wall 7.75 inch by 5.25 inch pie or vegetable dish.  The sides are printed with pieces of The Errand Boy.  Both patterns are part of the series titled From Wilkie's Designs.  Sir David Wilkie (1785-1841) was a Scottish painter.

Cameleopard 4.25 inch child's plate

Lady Godiva And Peeping Tom Of Coventry 7 inch plate
I have already written about The Rabbit On The Wall and Cameleopard, which are two of my favorite patterns.  However, this is the first time I have seen a Lady Godiva pattern.  It is printed in black on porcelain with Lady Godiva's famous ride through Coventry in the 11th century.  She was the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia.  Godiva is an historical person who is mentioned in the Doomsday Book.

The legend of the nude ride appears around the 13th century and is not considered plausible by historians, but the story was interesting enough to survive retelling for more than 8 centuries! It is also the subject of several Hollywood movies.  The people of Coventry suffered under the oppressive taxation of Godiva's husband.  She appealed to him to reduce the taxes, which he finally offered to do if she would ride naked through Coventry.  The caveat was that if anyone looked or jeered, the taxes would not be removed.  Because Lady Godiva was held in such high esteem by the people, no one looked except Tom (now known as Peeping Tom).  Tom, by the way, was struck blind!  Read more about the legend of Godiva, her ride, and Peeping Tom here.

My friend, Michael, said this is just the kind of pattern to get adolescent boys interested in transferware.  What do you think?