Friday, December 14, 2018


I first became aware of yellow glazed earthenware when I saw an exhibit at the National Museum of American History - Smithsonian Institution in the 1980s.  The exhibit featured the collection of J. Jefferson Miller II, who wrote the book "English Yellow-Glazed Earthenware." According to Miller, "English yellow-glazed earthenware may be defined as a type of creamware or pearlware distinguished by an overall yellow glaze.  It was made in Britain during the final years of the eighteenth century and the first quarter of the nineteenth century."  Yellow-glazed earthenware is sometimes referred to as canary because of its bright color.  It is also called yellowware, but should not be confused with the pottery that has a clear glaze. Yellowware was made in both America and Britain throughout the 19th century (or earlier) and into the 20th century.  See the photos below.

A group of yellowware kitchen items

Hopefully, there will be no more confusion between English yellow glazed earthenware and English or American yellowware.

I fell in love with the bright yellow color of yellow glazed earthenware.  I particularly like the the small items intended for children. Here are a few. Some are from the collection of Dennis and Ann Berard and from the database of the Transferware Collectors Club.

Yellow glazed earthenware 2.5 inch mug, ca. 1820. The saying is from Proverbs 23:23.

Yellow glazed earthenware 2.5 inch mug, ca. 1820. This mug would have been a gift for a loved child.

Yellow glazed earthenware 1.88 inch mug, ca. 1820. It has a silver lustre rim.

There are many mugs, but plates were also decorated with a yellow glaze.

Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) 8.75 inch plate with a molded border. The pattern shows an English country house.

Enoch Wood & Sons 8.62 inch plate with a molded border. The pattern may depict a peel tower, a fortified house or keep commonly found in border regions of England and Scotland.

Not all of the yellow glazed items were made for children.

Yellow glazed earthenware jug featuring Sir Francis Burdett, who championed freedom of speech.

I am mainly interested in yellow glaze with transfer prints, but below are some items that are painted.

There is an excellent blog post titled "Big and Bright: New Ceramics at Historic Deerfield" that offers more detail on the reasons why and how yellow glaze was developed and used.  The post suggests the color was supposed to raise pottery sales at the end of the 18th century.  It also suggests that the reason you don't see an abundance of yellow glazed items is the color either wasn't very popular or it was difficult to make a consistent yellow glaze.

One more item shows two prints on a beaker.
Yellow glazed 2.62 inch beaker, "A Pretty Bird." Notice the damage didn't prevent me from buying it.
Other side of the beaker.. "My Sheep."

One more thing.  Are there any transfer printed yellowware items?  Of course.  In my experience, however, most yellowware is not printed.

A yellowware container transfer printed in black.

I would appreciate hearing about your yellow glaze items!

A close-up of a few of the items seen in the first photo.

Monday, November 5, 2018


I haven't seen very many complete smoker's (also spelled smokers or smokers') sets.  The one below, which is featured on pages 316 and 317 in R&R Halliday's "Extraordinary British Transferware 1780-1840," appears to have all of its parts. I am not sure what "all of its parts" actually means.  Here is a guess. Smoker's sets usually have a tobacco jar, a cup, a candlestick, a tobacco press, a snuff box, a snuff box lid, and a stand (which can be used as a ash tray). 

Smoker's set, 13 inches high, printed in a pattern known as Hawk Attack, ca. 1820.

Coysh and Henrywood on p. 340 in their 1982 book "The Dictionary of Blue and White Printed Pottery 1780-1880," say a smoker's set "is a set of pots which fit together in the form of a pyramid and serve a variety of smoker's needs." "Variety" may be the key word.

The parts of the smoker's set are from top left counter clock-wise): a goblet, tobacco press and snuff box, lid to snuff box,  ash tray, candlestick, tobacco jar, and dish (which also functions as a stand or ashtray or spittoon?). I assume the goblet or cup was used for wine.

I recently saw a splendid smoker's set in the stall of Fergus Downey in Portobello Road.

Smoker's set, 19 inches high, printed in the "British Cattle" pattern by, possibly, Bourne, Baker, and Bourne (ca. 1805-1830).

The parts of the smoker's set are from left: a stand, inkwell and sander that fit inside the bottom container and a tobacco press, snuff box and lid that fit inside the second container, which may be the tobacco box. Next may be a spittoon, a two-handled wine cup, and a candlestick. You can see I'm not sure what is what!

While most of the smoker's sets were probably printed in blue, I owned a set that was printed in teal.  The Romantic pattern dates the set to the mid to late 1830s. It is missing some of its parts, but does include a candle snuffer.

Smoker's set, printed in teal, ca. 1835.

The parts of this smoker's set include from the far left (clock-wise): a tobacco press with a built-in snuff box, tobacco jar, cup and candle stick (as one item),  candle snuffer, and the lid of the snuff box. There were probably more parts at one time.

The last smoker's set I'll show you is lacking nearly everything.  It only has the tobacco jar and the stand. I bought it because of the lovely floral pattern printed in pink and black. I envisioned using it as a plant pot. Which is exactly what I did.

Pink and black printed partial smoker's set: tobacco jar and stand only, ca. 1835.

The beautifully printed stand. The orange dots are detritus from my garden.

I hope you'll send me photos of more smoker's sets! More information too.

Thursday, November 1, 2018


"A Guinea Pig" child's mug, ca. 1830

I purchased this poorly printed and cracked child's mug because the pattern featured a guinea pig, which is quite unusual. The pattern reminded me of a loved 1972 photo of my son. He has always loved animals, and in the photo he is hugging a guinea pig.  Jonas was barely two, so the guinea pig looks very large.  I still remember the guinea pig's name, Goldie.  She was very gentle, and was very loved in the pre-school where she lived.

Jonas and Goldie the Guinea Pig.
Usually, transferware patterns lead me on a intellectual search, not down memory lane.  I am glad this one did.

Sunday, September 30, 2018


Does this sweet-faced buffalo look enraged? Is it a bison or a buffalo?

Did you know that Bison and Buffalo are not the same species? (Although they are in the same family.)  I just learned this fact in North Dakota (a beautiful and underrated state).  That said, the two names are used interchangeably in North America.  The U.S. national mammal is a bison, but most people call it a buffalo.  There are cities named Buffalo, the buffalo nickel, and buffalo burgers.  Really, they should be called bison!

Do you want to know the difference between the bison and the buffalo?  Take a look at this link.  In case you don't want to look, a male bison has shorter horns and a hump on its back. As for the animal on the mug, it is probably a buffalo (although misspelled "Buffallo").  It was copied from an engraving by Jean-Baptiste Pillement (1728-1808).  Below are a few more transferware buffalo patterns.

Pillement engraving of a buffalo
Edward Challinor (1819-1824) 9.63 inch chestnut basket stand "Battle Between A Buffalo And A Tiger." You can see the long horns of the buffalo.  Also, it is in India!

The source print is an etching by Samuel Howitt, ca. 1807, "Exhibition of a Battle Between a Buffalo and a Tiger" from Thomas Williamson's "Oriental Field Sports."

Spode (1770-1833) platter featuring "Hunting a Buffalo." Notice those long horns.  Again, this buffalo is in India.

The Spode pattern is copied from another Howitt etching titled "Hunting an Old Buffalo."

Is there a bison on transferware? Yes.  The 19th century Native Americans (also known as Indians) are hunting bison. It's a bit hard to see, but notice the furry hump and the shorter horns. 

Here's a rather fuzzy close-up of the center of the above pattern.

Some Bison I saw at the Dakota Zoo in Bismarck, North Dakota. This photo is a non-sequitur, but these are bison I saw in person.

Bison. Notice the short horns and hump of the large male.

Buffalo Bill. Bison Bill?

A Buffalo (think bison) Hunt on Buffalo Pottery. American, not English, transferware.  But, a good example of a bison.

One more photo.

North Dakota is really a place where "the buffalo roam."

Monday, September 3, 2018


"Napier" basket, 12 inches by 8.75 inches and undertray or stand, 10.5 inches by 8.75 inches.  It was possibly made by John & George Alcock (1838-1848). The color looks blue, but it is purple.  Scroll down to see the center pattern.

"The Dictionary of Blue and White Printed Pottery 1780 - 1880" says baskets are "Decorative dishes with pierced or woven sides usually supplied with a matching tray or stand. They were used for serving chestnuts or fruit."  I use my basket and stand to hold bananas.  The piercings allow air flow that prevents premature ripening. You can use the baskets for any kind of fruit. Or, chestnuts.

Baskets and stands, also known as undertrays or trays, were made in many different shapes, patterns, and colors.  The piercings or cutouts vary a lot too.  I was told the cutouts were done by hand when the clay was like leather.  Most of the baskets seen in this post are found in the Transferware Collectors Club Database of Patterns and Sources and in the free online exhibit Printed British Pottery & Porcelain 1750-1900.   Some are from kind eBay sellers.

Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) 11.6 by 8 inch pierced basket "Kenmount, Dunfrieshire" from the Grapevine Border Series.

Here is a side view of the basket for a clearer idea of the piercings.

"Adelaide's Bower" basket stand by an unknown maker, ca. 1835
"Adelaide's Bower" basket and stand

John Hall & Sons (1814-1832) "Oriental Scenery" basket and stand.  Imagine cutting these large diamonds without ruining the basket!  The pattern is "Hindoo Pagoda" from the large "Oriental Scenery" series.

The "Oriental Scenery" basket and stand. Notice the piercings in the stand and the basket.  Are they the same? You can click on the photo to make it larger.

John Hall & Sons (1814-1832) "Oriental Scenery" with the view "Part of the City of Moorshedabad." This stand is from the same maker and series as above, but the shape and piercings are completely different.

Thomas & John Mayer (1838-1842) "Nonpareil"10.5 inch by 8 inch stand.

Thomas & John Mayer (1838-1842) "Nonpareil" 10.5 inch basket. Notice that the central pattern is different from the stand.

Nonpareil basket and stand. You can see that the pair would be lovely on a table.

William Smith (& Co.) 1825-1855 "No. 16" 11 inch by 7.5 inch pierced basket.

Ralph Stevenson (& Son) 1810-1835 pierced 11.5 inch by 8.5 inch basket. It shows Seaton Lodge, Northumberland on this side and Rivenhall Place, Essex on the other side (not seen). 
Ralph Stevenson (& Son) 1810-1835 "Compton Verney" pierced stand for the basket above. Notice the round piercings.

Hicks, Meigh & Johnson (1822-1835) 12 by 9 inch basket printed in the "Priory" pattern.

Basket and stand  printed with the "Priory" pattern

West Acre House, Norfolk from the Foliage Border Series by an unknown maker 9.5 inch stand. Imagine the skill to make these piercings!

One more photo.  Here's my basket and stand without the fruit. Although it looks bluish, it is really purple.

One more thing. This type of piercing is also known as reticulated. When used to describe porcelain or pottery, the word reticulated means interlacing lines, especially of pierced work, forming a net or web.  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "reticulate" comes from Latin "reticulum" meaning "small net."