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.