Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Guest Post by David Hoexter 

I tend to ruminate a lot.  Perhaps we all do.  At any rate, I was out walking the dog Christmas morning.  Gorgeous, clear, perhaps 50 degrees (F).  Already around 10:30, yet hardly anyone around.  Occasional car passes, another dog walker, one bike. 
I passed two of our neighbor’s houses.  Long time friends.  Our friends in their 80s and 90s, each couple with one member in quite poor health.  The other member providing love and care.  Pretty much a full-time occupation for all four. 

So, I was ruminating about such things when I saw a car back out of a blind driveway in front of me, narrowly missing someone “walking” herself and her little dog.  Except that she wasn’t walking, she was in a wheel chair, propelling herself at quite a goodly pace with her feet, dog leash in one hand and the other hand occasionally in use to assist with propulsion or steering.  She looked to be at least 80.

What with our (me and dog) frequent stops to do the things dogs like to do, especially this one, it was quite awhile before we caught up to the lady and little dog.  Actually, she crossed the street, purposely I believe, to greet us and exchange Holiday and New Year greetings.  I recognized her from our previous walks, passing her house, except that on previous occasions she was not wheel-chair bound.

Wheel chair or not, though, she was just as bright and cheery as she had been the last time we chatted.  I thought of my own mother, 94 and not quite as spry but always of such good nature, cheer and loving.  And so I realized just some of the blessings of my life. 

Mary, David, and Dogozshi

Since this is ostensibly a pottery blog, and I am required to include at least one image, here are a few of my favorite early 20th century American calendar plates, advertising items given by merchants at the end of the year to thank their customers (and of course encourage their continued patronage).  As some of you know, I am documenting these plates, particularly the year 1910, the peak year for the practice.  

 Ringing Out the Old, Ringing in the New Year.  So far, I’ve documented 1,892 plates from 1910, produced in 232 patterns.  Of the total, 197 are this pattern (12%), by far the most produced example.

Angel Pulled by Moths.  Only 17 of this pattern.  For the life of me, I cannot fathom the message (is it some sort of myth?).  Maybe there is no message, just someone’s fantasy.  Any thoughts?

Canoemates.  Need I say more?  

Some cherubs.  Makes me think of the new year and renewal.  

Finally, The Old Swimming Hole.  Yes, I know, Winter just began.

Friday, December 23, 2016


"Genuine Bears Grease/Yardley & Statham/Wholesale Perfumers" 2.5 inch pot lid, ca. 1851. 

I went on a bears grease binge recently.  I purchased five 19th century pot lids printed with bears grease advertising.  After the holidays, I plan to write about them.  However, now I am going to write about a lid I didn't buy.  Not that I didn't want it.  I noticed that the bear's head was covered in bees.  I knew that this bear, assaulted by bees, was actually the bear used to illustrate the Aesop's fable: "The Bear and the Bees."  Here is the fable (you can skip it, but the moral is quite good): "A Bear roaming the woods in search of berries happened on a fallen tree in which a swarm of Bees had stored their honey. The Bear began to nose around the log very carefully to find out if the Bees were at home. Just then one of the swarm came home from the clover field with a load of sweets. Guessing what the Bear was after, the Bee flew at him, stung him sharply and then disappeared into the hollow log. The Bear lost his temper in an instant, and sprang upon the log tooth and claw, to destroy the nest. But this only brought out the whole swarm. The poor Bear had to take to his heels, and he was able to save himself only by diving into a pool of water.  Moral: It is wiser to bear a single injury in silence than to provoke a thousand by flying into a rage."  I don't know why the bear and the bees image was used to advertise bears grease.  Usually, bears grease lids show just a generic bear or two.  Perhaps the  engraver who copied the image didn't know about the fable.  Or didn't care.

The image on the above lid was copied from Francis Barlow's 1687 illustration for a book of Aesop's Fables.  If you enlarge the image, you can read the late 17th century version of the fable.

Francis Barlow's 1687 illustration "The Bear and the Bee Hives."

I knew the bear on the lid was from an Aesop's fable because I entered two patterns in the Transferware Collectors Club Database of Patterns and Sources that show "The Bear and the Bee Hives."  Or, as sometimes known, "Bear and the Bees."
Bailey & Ball (1843-1850) "Bear And Bees" 7.5 inch child's plate.  It is copied from Francis Barlow's illustration "The  Bear and the Bee Hives." See above.

"The Bear And The Bee Hives" 4.75 inch child's plate, ca. 1830.  It is copied from Samuel Howitt's  "A New Work of Animals: Principally Designed from the Fables of Aesop, Gay and Phaedrus,"  ca. 1811.  See below.

"Bear and the beehives" from Samuel Howitt's  "A New Work of Animals: Principally Designed from the Fables of Aesop, Gay and Phaedrus,"  ca. 1811.

The fable is also found on some 19th century tiles.  Both are copied from Samuel Howitt's "A New Work of Animals." See the source print above.

Minton & Hollins & Co. (1868-1962) 6 by 6 inch 19th century tile that illustrates the Aesop's Fable "The Bear and the Bees."
Minton Hollins & Co (1868-1962) 6 by 6 inch 19th century tile "The Bear and the Bees."

When I received my pot lids, I asked the dealer what he knew about the bear and bees lid.  He said he knew the bear and bees pattern was from an Aesop's Fable.  Later, my husband found the pattern in Ronald Dales 1977 book, "The Price Guide to Black and White Pot-Lids."  The text reads: "Bear and Beehive picture on a small to medium lid from the forerunners of Yardley's c. 1860s." So, I didn't discover anything new.  However,  the pot lid did lead me to find some source prints.  Now I have to enter them into the TCC database!

One more thing.  Here's a photo of the lids that were the inspiration for this post.  The bears are quite nice, but rather generic.  Except for one.

Five Bears Grease Pot Lids.  I wonder if the pattern in the center top is also from a fable by Aesop?  I'll have to check.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


A 19th plate and two mugs that say "A Grandmother's Gift." 

It is a busy time of year, but I am never too busy to be a grandmother!  It is much easier than being a mother.  Not just because you get to send the grandchildren home at night, but because all of the day to day and year to year concerns are really the responsibility of your children (aka the parents).

Grandparents were the subject of many 19th century transferware patterns.  However, today, unlike the 19th century, grandparents are still young (ish) at 60 and 70.  In the 19th century, grandparents were old at 45!

Above, you can see three items that were obviously gifts from a grandmother.  Below is a gift from a grandfather.

Nineteenth century 2 inch mug, "A Grandfather's Gift."

I have written about grandparents before, and have shown you many photos of patterns that celebrate them: "A Grandmother's Gift and Transferware,"  "Happy Mother's Day," and Fathers And Grandfathers On Transferware.   Most of the patterns I showed you illustrated a mother, grandmother, or father, so I thought I'd show you some more that feature a grandfather. 

The first five patterns below were copied from "My Grandfather," an illustrated poem by William Darton, junior, ca. 1812-1815. Grandfathers are shown doing the same loving things that they still do today.

Child's plate, "My Grandfather," also titled "The Boat."  The text reads: "The Boat. Who made for me a little Boat/ And did my joy-struck eye denote/ To see it on the water float?/ My Grandfather"

Child's plate, "My Grandfather."  The text reads: "Who when I could both read and spell/ And in my writing got on well/ Bought me a watch, the time to tell?/ My Grandfather."  I suggest making the photo bigger so that you can see the details (like the watch).

Child's plate "My Grandfather."  The text reads: "Who when a Babe in leading strings/Would haste to me on pleasure's wings/And brought me many pretty things/My Grandfather."

Child's plate, "My Grandfather."  The text reads: "Who when he saw me sad or cross/Would spin the top, or trap ball toss/And let me make his cane my horse/My Grandfather."

Here are two more grandfather patterns that are not part of the above series.  Grandfathers looked more decrepit in the 19th century.  Grandmothers too.

Child's plate, "The Old Grandfather."  I love his luggage!

"Our Early Days" 9 inch plaque "Now I'm Grandfather" shows a child wearing glasses, reading a newspaper, and sitting in Grandfather's chair.

Although some things have changed,  twenty-first century grandfathers are still entertaining and loving grandchildren.

Grandpa and Maya at the dinner table.  Notice the paper plates.  Quelle horreur!

Grandpa reading to Joey

Grandpa playing with Liam on the computer.

Saturday, December 3, 2016


"The Commandments/Thou shalt do no murder" 19th century child's plate.

I rarely see transferware patterns that feature murder.  I shall qualify this statement by saying I did write a post about the sixth commandment: "Thou shalt do no murder."  Arguably, the murder of Abel by his brother Cain is the first and most famous murder.  It appears on a plate intended for a child, one of a series illustrating the Ten Commandments.  However, the pattern of a unattractive building with a sign over the door, seen below, was an enigma.  Luckily, the words on the sign were a key to searching the Internet.  I learned that the  pattern showed the Bills o'Jacks pub or inn, where a double murder was committed.

"Bills O Jacks April 2nd 1832" 3.12 inch souvenir child's mug

Old photo of the Bills o' Jacks Inn (later called the Moor Cock Inn).  The Inn was demolished in 1937.

On April 2, 1832, the landlord of the Bills o' Jacks Inn, Thomas Bradbury, and his son, William,  were violently murdered.  The popularity of the murder, or shall I say infamy of the murder, was  because it was so grisly, and the crime was never solved.  After nearly two hundred years, the mystery of the murders is still exciting interest.  I know this because I have seen many sites on the Internet dedicated to the Bills o'Jacks murders. The inn no longer exists, it was demolished in 1937, but the grave of the victims can still be seen in the churchyard of St. Chad's Church in Saddleworth in Yorkshire, England. 

If this mug was really intended for a child, I could add it to my list of inappropriate patterns for children.  (For other examples of inappropriate patterns,  you might like to see my blog post titled "Inappropriate Or Frightening Patterns For Children.")  If you are interested in more history of the murder, take a look at the blog post, "Bills o'Jacks" from the blog titled "Wessyman."

I wrote this post because after collecting and studying transferware for more than 30 years, I am still surprised by some of the patterns.   Please let me know about patterns that have surprised you. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) "Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast Africa" 16.5 inch platter, ca. 1825.  Although hard to see, the title of the pattern is printed on the left near the bottom of the center of the pattern.

One of the reasons I started writing this blog was to share what I have learned from studying transferware patterns.  I was always curious about an Enoch Wood (1818-1846) pattern, "Cape Coast Castle On The Gold Coast Africa."  It is part of a series known as the Irregular Shell Border Series, which mainly includes American and British views.  An African view didn't seem to fit in.  I learned that Cape Coast Castle was a major British trading post located in the Gold Coast (a British Colony) from the 17th through the 20th centuries.  As such, the pattern falls into a British colonial category, rather like a lot of transferware patterns with views of India.   I learned that merchants from all over the world, including America, came to Cape Coast Castle to trade.  If you look carefully, you'll see that the ship in the foreground is flying an American flag.

Cape Coast Castle functioned as an important British market between the natives of the Gold Coast (now Ghana)* and British, American, and other merchants.   Some of the major commodities exchanged were slaves, gold, mahogany, blankets, spices, sugar, and silk.  The castle was also a notorious prison for the slaves who were waiting to be exported.  For many reasons,  it seems odd (to me) that a slave trading post is featured on a transferware platter.  Although the platter is beautiful, its subject is morally repugnant. Also, by the time the platter was made around 1825, British slave trading had been abolished.   Still, perhaps the pattern was used because Cape Coast Castle, however infamous, continued to be a major trading post for nearly another hundred years.

Cape Coast Castle today. It is now a tourist attraction.
I thought I'd add a second pattern in the Irregular Shell Border Series that depicts a Gold Coast trading post.  The pattern features a Danish-Norwegian trading post, "Christianburg on the Gold Coast Africa."  Christianburg Castle was the headquarters for Denmark-Norway's** commercial activities on the Gold Coast:  presumably, slaves as well as gold.

Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) "Christianburg Danish Settlement on the Gold Coast Africa" 20 inch platter, ca. 1825.

I'm reading a novel, "Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi, that begins in the late 18th century at Cape Coast Castle.  The book is the impetus for this post.  Although I had knowledge of the slave trade between Britain and its colonies, the book fleshes out the story of the actual business of slavery.  It is painful to think of people as commodities.

Obviously, this is a transferware blog, not a slavery history blog, but I thought I would direct you to some slavery information.  If you want to know more about British slave trading, follow this link.  An interesting history of slavery in America is found here.  For more information about Cape Coast Castle, visit "Ghana's Slave Castles: The Shocking Story of the Ghanaian Cape Coast.

*The Gold Coast was a British Colony that became the independent nation of Ghana in 1957. The Gold Coast is to the left of Nigeria.

The Gold Coast is printed in red to the left of Nigeria.

** Denmark-Norway was one country from 1523-1814 except 1533-1537.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


"Jefferson" 2.35 inch by 2.5 inch child's early 19th century child's mug.

I recently visited Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826).  Among his many illustrious accomplishments,  Jefferson was the main author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States.  He was also a slave owner.  It is still difficult for me to fathom a slave owner writing: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."  What I learned at Monticello, is that Jefferson was in debt, and his slaves were an economic necessity.  While he was alive, his slaves were needed to run the plantation. When he died, his slaves were sold to pay his debts.

Jefferson wasn't the only American Founding Father and President to own slaves: George Washington and James Madison were also slave holders.  However, this is not going to be a post about the evils of slavery, that too is self-evident.  My visit to Monticello inspired me to look at anti-slavery transferware.  Much of anti-slavery or abolitionist transferware patterns were meant for children.  Remember, that children's pottery was intended to instruct as well as delight.

"Perish Slavery/Prosper Freedom" child's mug.  "Perish Slavery" indeed! 

Early 19th century mug illustrating a slave sale.

The other side of the mug above includes the poem: "Like cattle to a fair,/They sell us, young and old/From mother too they tear-/For love of filthy gold."
Here is a close-up of the slave sale.  The child on the barrel has been asked to dance.  This was to demonstrate to buyers that he was in good health.

Close-up of the scene on the mug above.
At the Reeves Center at Washington & Lee University, I saw an interesting juxtaposition of the pattern above with a creamware jug commemorating Jefferson.

An interesting juxtaposition

Also seen at Washington & Lee University.

"Remember them that are in Bonds" child's plate.

Not all anti-slavery transferware patterns were intended for children.  Here is one of my favorites. The poem on the other side of the jug was written by William Cowper (1731-1800) in 1788. 

"Am Not I A Man And A Brother" jug with lustre decoration.

The other side of the above jug includes the words of William Cowper's "The Negro's Complaint: Fleecy locks and black complexion/ Cannot forfeit nature's claim;/ Skins may differ, but affection / Dwells in white and black the same./ Slaves of gold whose sordid dealings/ Tarnish all your boasted powers:/ Prove that you have human feelings/ Ere you boldly question ours." Here is a link to the entire poem.

When I visited Monticello as a child, there was mention of slavery, but no condemnation of it.  Luckily, times have changed.  Sort of.


Monday, October 17, 2016


I recently purchased a transferware egg.  My first.  They are rather uncommon.  I wrote about transferware eggs in an article for the Transferware Collectors Club in 2012.  It was titled "Transferware Darning Eggs."*   The egg shaped transferware items were used for darning, but they were also bell pull handles,** and, perhaps, love tokens.  They were, arguably, mainly gifts for children, as the patterns found on many of the eggs were also used on nursery plates.

John Wilkinson's (1820-1867) "Our Early Days" is the name of a series of children's patterns.  The specific pattern here is "Now I'm Grandmother."  The  4.35 inch darning egg includes the name of the child for whom it was meant, as well as a pattern on the other side.
Notice that the series name, "Our Early Days," is printed above each pattern. In the center, see the name and initials of the child for whom the egg was intended.

The other pattern on the egg is "The Pet."

Below are "Our Early Days" patterns found on children's plates.  The Transferware Collectors Club Database of Patterns and Sources includes 10 patterns from this series.

John Wilkinson 6 inch child's plate "Our Early Days/Now I'm Grandmother."

John Wilkinson 5 inch plate "Our Early Days/The Pet." Notice that the plate was too small for the print, which runs over the molded border.

Here is a pattern on a transferware egg that is copied from George Cruikshank's popular illustrations for Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 edition of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." The patterns appear as a series on children's plates and mugs.

A 2.38 inch darning egg with an illustration from "Uncle Tom's Cabin."  The illustration shows "Eva dressing Uncle Tom."

The other side of the egg shows the title of the book, "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

Child's plate illustrating "Eva Dressing Uncle Tom."

Illustration by George Cruikshank from "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852.

The TCC Database of Patterns and Sources shows 15 patterns from "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

One of my favorite children's patterns is associated with the London Zoo, "Visit to the Zebra."  It is found on both a child's plate and an egg.  The egg below was intended as a gift for a girl.

Darning Egg with the "Visit to the Zebra" pattern.

The egg above is also printed with a floral group (see a bit of it on the right) and the words"A Present For A Good Girl." 

"Visit to the Zebra" 6 inch child's plate. 

Boys were also given darning eggs as gifts.  Perhaps, the egg below was intended to be used by the boy's mother to darn his socks!  I think the girl's egg above was probably used to teach a little girl how to darn.  I am not being sexist.  I am thinking about the egg in the context of its time.

Child's 2.5 inch long by 2 inch diameter darning egg.

"A Present for A Good Boy" printed on the egg above.

Another pattern on the above egg.

I couldn't find the patterns on a child's plate, but obviously, they were made for a child.

Here is one more egg.  It is illustrated with patterns copied from "The Mother's Picture Alphabet," which was published in London in 1862. 

John Wilkinson (1820-1867) Darning egg, 4.25 inches. The pattern illustrates the letter "N."  See the picture sheet below.

Initials between the two pattern on the egg.

Train pattern on the other side of the egg above.

"Mother's Picture Alphabet N begins News-boy, etc."

Here is the egg I purchased.  It has a rather utilitarian design.  It doesn't appear to have been made for a child.  Perhaps I'll use it to darn socks.  Does anyone darn sock anymore?

Transferware 2.25 inch by 1. 75 inch darning egg

*Many thanks to Tony Calvin of Cumbria, England for sparking my nascent interest in transferware eggs.

**See p. 137 in "West Cumberland Potteries, Volume II" by Florence Sibson.