Sunday, July 24, 2016


There is a National Rat Catcher Day!  Really.  It is celebrated on July 22,  and it commemorates the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin (the rat catcher of Hamelin).  I found two transferware patterns that depict rat catchers.  I already showed you one pattern when I wrote a post about ferrets.  The rat catcher used ferrets to catch the rats. 

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.

Here is another pattern.  It is quite humorous. The woman is holding her nose as she hands over the rat to the rat catcher.

Jug printed with a rat catcher and his client, ca. 1830.  Notice that she is holding her nose.

Here is my own rat catcher.  The feline kind.  If she were hungry (she never is in my house), I know she would catch rats.

Charlotte, the rat catcher

I read on the National Calendar Day's website that July 22 is also a day to thank all exterminators.  As someone who has suffered with flea and termite infestations, I'll second that! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Mintons (1872-1950) late 19th century 6 inch tile from the "Animals on the Farm" series designed by William Wise.

The last time I read "Animal Farm," I was about 14. I thought the story too babyish for me. Now I see it as a brilliant animal fable that skewers politics and people. The saying: "If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh," sums up the story. Do you remember the words "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others?" "Animal Farm" is a wonderful book to read in these political times (2016 Presidential Primary). Actually, any time.

This is the cover used on the copy of "Animal Farm" that I read a long time ago.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


"Symptoms of Angling" 7 inch plate by an unknown maker, ca. 1830.  The pattern pokes fun at the new mechanization that was part of the Industrial Revolution.  Notice that the man is free to read while his machine does the fishing!
There are patterns on small plates, probably made for children, that poke fun of the 19th century's new industrial age.  The titles include the words "Symptoms of."  I was reminded of these patterns when I visited a show of old machines in Cayucos, California.  The juxtaposition of the two, plates and show, made me think that what would have been fantastical and humorous to an early 19th century person was just the beginning of what would become the Machine Age (1880-1945).  First powered by hand and steam, and later powered by electricity and gas.  Below is an early 20th century washing machine.

Early 20th century washing machine powered by electricity

And a  corn husking machine.

Corn husking machine powered by electricity.

And a tractor.

And a car.

And a mine hoist.

Here are a few more humorous "Symptoms of" early 19th century plates.  I particularly like the steam powered vehicle in the shape of a teapot below.

"Symptoms of Going in Style" 5.88 inch plate, ca. 1830.  The pattern shows a man driving a steam powered tea kettle!

"Symptoms of Wholesale Trade" 6 inch plate, ca. 1830.  Here, men are shaved jointly by a steam powered shaving machine!

The last plate is a bit ominous!  I hope the shaving machine doesn't cut anyone.

When I look at the machines around my house, I think about the progression of machines.  What early 19th century man or woman could imagine a washing machine controlled by electricity or a vehicle powered by gas.  What 20th century man or woman could imagine a machine, called a computer, that not only runs the washing machine, but all of the appliances in the house!  Actually, I am a bit amazed.