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.