Saturday, April 30, 2016


Moses in the Bulrushes 6.25 inch saucer, ca. 1825.

I just attended two Passover seders.  One was short and child friendly (lots of very young children) and one was filled with young adults (20 somethings).  The purpose of the Seder is to tell the story of the Exodus.  It is commanded that it be read.  If you have never attended a Seder, or if you don't remember, the word Seder means order.  There is a ritual order to the telling of the story.  It is read from a book called the Haggadah, which means the telling.  The story starts with a new Egyptian pharaoh who does not remember Joseph and the good things he did to save Egypt.  This pharaoh only sees that the Israelites (known at different times as Hebrews or Jews) have increased in number, and he is afraid that they will overrun Egypt. He commands that the Israelites be enslaved, but they still multiply.  Then, he orders that all new Israelite babies be killed.  If you don't know the story, click on a summary of the Book of Exodus here.  Why are we commanded to tell the story every year?  In short,  the telling of the story of the Exodus is to remind us that the world hasn't changed much in the last three thousand five hundred years. There are still people who are enslaved and murdered.   There are still cruel leaders.  However, there are also brave men and women who risk everything to save these people; Moses and Pharaoh's daughter in ancient times,  and hopefully one of us today.  It says in the Haggadah that no one is free as long as there is injustice in the world.

I have written about Passover before.  Take a look at Had Gadya And Goats On TransferwareMosesThe Ten Commandments, and The Story Of Joseph.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Ridgway, Morley, Wear & Co. (1836-1842) 7.5 inch plate printed in brown and painted in green in the "Caledonian" pattern. 

April 6 is National Tartan Day in the United States (the date was established by Congress in 1997 to recognize Americans of Scottish descent).  I wondered why it wasn't called National Plaid Day, as tartan and plaid are used interchangeably in the United States.  My friend, Arlene, who is from Scotland, told me that a plaid is a tartan pattern (a tartan pattern consists of crossed horizontal and vertical bands in two or more colors in woven cloth) slung over the shoulder as a kilt accessory.  In Scotland, only the word tartan is used for everything else.  I have learned something new. 

There are many transferware patterns that feature Scottish subjects and tartan and plaid.  For example, the "Caledonian" pattern.  (Caledonia is the name the Romans gave to northern Scotland).  The Transferware Collectors Club Pattern And Source Print Database says: "The added painted colors of the "Calendonian" pattern are painstakingly executed in each example as if to replicate the color and line of woven Scottish tartans. But it is perhaps the soup plate with its denser coloring that best relates this pattern to the colorful and distinctive family tartans worn by the Scottish clans in the Highlands of Caledonia."  I think the teapot and the plate above show wonderful tartan colors too.

"Caledonian" soup plate

"Caledonian" teapot

The Scotland Highlands, along with men wearing kilts, tartan and plaid, feature in a series titled "Caledonia."  It was made by both William Adams IV & Sons (1829-1861) and the Middlesbro' Pottery Co. (1834-1887).

William Adams IV & Sons (1829-1861) 10.5 inch plate in the "Caledonia" pattern.  Do you see the plaid?
Middlesbro' Pottery (1834-1887) "Caledonia" pattern.

The patterns above show that Adams and Middlesbro' used some of the same patterns, but remember that "Caledonia" is a series, so many different patterns were made (The TCC shows 15 Caledonia patterns in its database).  However, I digress.  Back to tartan and plaid.  Below is an Adams jug with a clearer look at a plaid.  Remember, it is the fabric wrapped around the hunter's shoulder and waist.  "Plaid" is Gaelic for blanket.  Was it used to keep a person warm? 
Adams jug in the "Caledonia" pattern.  Notice the plaid on the hunter.  You can make the photo larger by clicking on it.

Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) made a pattern titled "Plaid."  Just when I thought I understood the difference between plaid and tartan, I discovered this pattern.  It should have been called "Tartan."  Perhaps it was intended for the American Market.

Enoch Wood & Sons 10.5 inch plate in the "Plaid" pattern.  Notice that unlike most transferware patterns, the title describes the border rather than the center. 

Enoch Wood "Plaid" mark.

Here is a pattern to test what you have learned.  Is there a plaid in this pattern?

John Benton Bagster (1823-1827) 9.75 inch plate from the "Vignette" series.

 Just for fun, I'll show you tartan and plaid on Staffordshire figures. 

Where is the plaid?

Who is wearing a plaid?

Rob Roy is definitely wearing a plaid! 
The End

Sunday, April 3, 2016


April 2 is National Ferret Day.  I thought it might be a challenge to find ferrets on transferware, but I  found two patterns plus their source prints.

Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) 11 inch ewer from the Sporting Series, where nearly each size and shape depicts a hunting or hunted animal.   The ferret is used by the rat catcher to catch rats.  The man's sash displays rats along with a crown.  He may be a royal rat catcher!  Remember to click on the photo to make it bigger.

"Ferret" from "A Cabinet of Quadrupeds" by John Church, 1805.  It was engraved by James Tookey after the work of the artist Julius Ibbetson. 

Toy teapot, 3.5 inches high, by an unknown maker. 

"The Ferret" from "The General History of Quadrupeds" by Thomas Bewick, 1790.  Bewick also created the wood block prints.
I am still amazed at the huge amount of transferware patterns.  The Transferware Collectors Club Pattern And Source Print Database has recorded more than 13, 000 so far.  However, I have yet to see a yak!