Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Spode Italian dinner plate, ca. 1976/The plate is from the wonderful dinner service my parents gave me as a wedding present in 1976.

One of the most famous manufacturers of English ceramics is Spode.  The factory was in business on the same site (see the history of the factory ownership here)  for almost 250 years, and made some of the most enduring and beautiful transferware patterns;  Italian, for example, was made from circa 1816 until the factory closed around 2009.

I have a long history with Spode's  Italian.*  I was given 133 pieces (new) as a wedding gift in 1976.  The dishes have appeared at all of my Thanksgiving dinners since November 1976!

Spode Blue Italian on my Thanksgiving table.

I have other Spode patterns too.  For example, I spotted a Spode platter at an antiques shop in 1977 that reminded me of my honeymoon in Rome.  The pattern is actually called Rome!  The platter has resided on my dresser for nearly 40 years.

  The Rome pattern Spode platter has been on my dresser since 1977.  The platter dates from the early 1820s.  The dust on the shelf is old too.

This is a preamble to explain why I was happy the  TCC  2015 tour included a visit to the old Spode factory site, which is now known as the Spode Works Visitor Center.  The visit included a demonstration of the transfer process by Paul Holdway,* and a look at a collection of transferware items and copper plates.

Paul Holdway inking a copper plate/Notice the Italian pattern tissue pulls on the right.

Paul pulling the tissue away from the copper plate/ To see a YouTube video of the whole transfer process follow this link.

Some of the items in the transferware display.  The bidet on the bottom right is printed in the Tower pattern, above is a tureen in the Greek pattern, and the jug on the top right is Woodman.  If you want to know the rest of the patterns, an excellent resource is Spode Exhibition Online.  You can go right to the printed designs here.

Spode display/The item on the top left is a leg bath. 

More Spode

Greek pattern copper plate
Floral pattern copper plate.

Why was Spode so important? Why should the site be preserved?  The factory made useful and beautiful things for more than 200 years, but the poster below illustrates that not only beauty, but science, historical material, and community were fostered at the site.   It is part of English history.

The text on this poster explains the importance of saving the Spode factory.

I have been to the factory site many times, and hope I can visit again.

I look forward to visiting again!

*If you want to know more about Spode's Italian pattern, follow this link to the Pam Woolliscroft's blog posts titled Spode & Italian on her blog Spode History.  You can also see a link to Richard's Halliday's 2013 book, The Italian Pattern.

*To see a You tube video of the transfer process by Paul Holdway which was produced by Richard Halliday, click here.

Take a look at the TCC England Tour 2015 Parts One, Two, and Three.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

PARIS: FRIDAY 13, 2015

I have already written about another attack on the innocent; the Boston Marathon massacre of 2013.  I am sad that I am writing this kind of post again.  The murder of civilians in Paris on Friday 13, 2015 was a heinous crime. 

Jug, 5.12 inches.  The personifications of Peace and Plenty flank a large monument with the inscription "Peace of Europe Signed at Paris May 30, 1814", surmounted by the GR initials of George III.
There really isn't much 19th century transferware with a Paris pattern, but I did find "Peace of Europe Signed at Paris, May 30, 1814" in the Pattern and Source Print Database of the Transferware Collectors Club.  It illustrates both the sadness and the irony of a fragile peace treaty.  The pattern commemorates what appeared to be peace when Napoleon abdicated as Emperor in April 1814, and the Treaty of Paris was signed by the Allies; Britain, Prussia, Russia, Austria, Sweden, and Portugal.  Instead, in February, 1815, Napoleon escaped from exile on Elba, and was welcomed back by the French.  War broke out again, and didn't culminate until Waterloo in July, 1815.  There was a second Treaty of Paris that was signed in November, 1815.   Thus,  two peace treaties in little more than a year with, of course, war in between.   Notice that the second treaty was signed in November, 1815;  two hundred years before the recent killings in Paris.  I am meandering around what I wanted to say in my first sentence; plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same).

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose)
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose)

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Red Deer

What is this deer doing in the Potteries Museum And Art Gallery?  The museum is filled with all kinds of things; decorative art, fine art, and even natural history.  I always go to the second floor to see the pottery, for which the area became known, but there is so much more.  Like any good museum, there is something for everyone.

I love the cow creamers.  There are 667 of them in the Keiller Collection at the Potteries Museum.   The caveat when the collection was donated was that two thirds always had to be exhibited.  That is a lot of cows!  If you want to read an excellent and detailed article about cow creamers,  see "Transfer Printed Cow Cream Jugs: A Breed All Their Own" by Loren Zeller in the Transferware Collectors Club Bulletin.

Cow Creamers

More Cow Creamers
There is so much pottery at the museum that I can only give you a taste.  If you want the whole meal, I suggest you go in person.





Useful stuff

More useful stuff

 Minton  (Not as useful as the items above)


I have shown you some of upstairs ceramics, but here are some of the downstairs items (i.e. the reserve collection).   Notice that the items are really just in storage.

The storage shelving is not fancy.  It appears to be unfinished particle board.

Lovely Turner posy vases/the plain storage shelves don't detract from the beauty of the pottery.

Plates of many colors.

Lots of interesting items; a flask, a jug, and smoker's sets.

Mainly Willow/Any guesses as to the pattern on the cheese cradle?

The storage shelves are rough, but the transferware basket and undertray are delicate and gorgeous!

David peeking through the other side of the glass storage shelves.
Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

If you haven't seen my posts on the TCC Tour 2015 - Part 1 and Part 2, click on the links.  We visited many museums, so there is more to come.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Continuing with the TCC England Tour 2015, we visited Keele Hall in Staffordshire, the ancestral home of the Sneyd family, that houses the Raven Mason Collection of Porcelain and Ironstone China.  The building looks Jacobean, but it was actually built in the 19th century.

Keele Hall, Staffordshire

Here is a bit of an aside.  I sometimes get confused as to which Mason is which. For example, who is Miles Mason, William Mason, George Miles Mason, or Charles James Mason?  Also, Francis Morley and George Ashworth?  Confused?  Take a look at the Mason's Chronology link here.

The Raven Mason Collection has cases filled with beautiful ironstone and porcelain patterns.  I mainly focused on the ironstone.

Japan Patterns

More ironstone patterns

Mazarine and Gold

It is hard to see different patterns in the cases shown above, so I'll show some bigger photos.  Here is arguably the most well-known Mason's ironstone pattern; Water Lily.

G.M. & C.J. Mason's Water Lily Ironstone pattern.  It has an impressed line mark on the back, "Mason's Patent Ironstone China."  The mark was used between 1813-1826.

"Mason's Patent Ironstone China" impressed line mark.
Shown below is a less well-known pattern printed in blue.  It is know as Chinese Dragon, and also has an impressed line mark on the back.   This mark refers to the type of Welsh clay; "Mason's Cambrian Argil."   The Mason's factory appears to be the only one to incorporate the name "Cambrian" into the factory mark.

G.M. & C.J. Mason's Chinese Dragon has an impressed line mark on the back, 1813-1826.

"Mason's Cambrian Argil" impressed mark/Really hard to see!  The plate is earthenware rather than ironstone.

I thought I'd show you the vivid blue and gold decoration on this jug.  It is hard to see in the case above.

G.M & C.J. Mason (1813-1826) mazarine blue and gold hydra-shaped jug.  The photo above gives you a better idea of the rich colors that are not seen in my photograph of the items in the case full of mazarine blue and gold.

Just a few more patterns.  These were made by Charles James Mason after his brother, George Miles, retired from the partnership; if you look at the marks,  you'll see they appear to be from two different business operations. 
Charles James Mason & Co. (1826-1845) Basket Japan Pattern

Charles James Mason & Co. mark (1826-1845) /Are there any differences between this crown and the one below?

Charles James Mason (1845-1854) You'll see this pattern in the middle of one of the cases above/Look carefully!  The TCC database says the pattern was continued later under G.L. Ashworth.

Charles James Mason mark (1845-1854)
The visit to Keele Hall whetted my interest in Mason's Ironstone China in particular and Mason's china in general.   The Transferware Collectors Club Pattern And Source Print Database has lots of information about Mason's patterns.   I also looked at one of the books in my own library; Mason's -  The First Two Hundred Years by Gaye Blake Roberts.  There are many more.

I see that I have digressed as usual.  The TCC Tour was much more organized than my brain!  I shall continue showing you some more of the highlights of the tour in my next blog post.

If you haven't seen the TCC England Tour 2015:  Part One, look here.

Monday, November 2, 2015


"A Present From The Staffordshire Potteries" 7.25 inch pearlware plate, ca. 1825.  The plate is obviously an early souvenir!

I just returned from the Transferware Collectors Club Tour and Meeting in England.  We started in London and ended in the Staffordshire Potteries.   I thought I'd show you some of the highlights (to me).  I took 1324 photos, so I had to choose just a few.  This was hard, so I tried to focus on the pottery.  I also decided to cover the tour in more than one blog post. 

The Victoria And Albert Museum has a huge ceramics gallery (they also have a huge amount of everything else).   The ceramics are displayed as visible storage.

Sign in the V&A Ceramics Gallery

Glass cases filled with ceramics/A museum worker can access the pottery from the center of the storage/display.

This is what the display looks like from the outside (where we are). Lots of stuff! 

Mainly painted 18th century creamware teapots and printed 18th century creamware tea canisters and creamware plates. 

Early blue printed hollow ware and a variety of colored plates and pots lids.

A design and color mixture.  Can you spot the Wedgwood Water Lily plate?

One of my favorite pieces is this 30 gallon jug.  I first saw it in 1987.   

Thirty Gallon Jug, ca. 1830.  It was probably intended for display.  The pattern is known as Wild Rose for the border or Nuneham Courtney for the building in the background.  Nuneham Courtenay is located on the river Thames about five miles southeast of Oxford.

David is standing near the jug to give you a bit of perspective as to its size.

The museum showcased a special exhibit titled Blue and White: British Printed Ceramics.   It highlighted the connection between antique and modern printed ware.  The V&A sign gives you a bit of blue and white history.

Here is a case from the exhibit showing old and new transfer printed pottery.

A juxtaposition of old and new transfer printed pottery.

Below is a close-up of a pair of juxtaposed old and new transfer print.

John & Richard Riley soup plate on the left, "Goggerdan, Cardiganshire," circa 1825, shows an idyllic country scene with grazing cows.  The modern platter by Paul Scott, "Foot and Mouth no. 5," references the major foot and mouth outbreak of 2001.  "The motif of cows' legs pointing skywards on pyres of cattle became a defining image of the crisis.  The image is given additional potency (I would add poignancy) by its application to a meat serving plate made of bone china, a material of which animal bone is a constituent."

Take a look at the iconic and probably most recognizable blue transfer printed pattern; Willow.

Willow Pattern

Below see a case of both traditional Willow pattern ceramics, as well as modern interpretations.

Old and New/Notice the modern renditions of the traditional Willow pattern.  

A case filled with old and new flower and bird transfer printed ware.

Not all of the ceramics at the V&A are transfer printed (just kidding).

Redware and more

Creamware and more

More pots!


Non-English ceramics

One last thing.  The entrance to the V&A has a gorgeous Dale Chilhuly glass sculpture hanging from the ceiling.

To Be Continued...