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."