Thursday, December 17, 2020



This 3.75 inch saucer depicts a scene from one of Aesop's Fables: "The Cock, the Hen and the Fox."

I have liked "Aesop's Fables" since I was a little girl and "The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer since I was a teenager. So, I was delighted to find a small saucer from a child's tea service with a pattern that combined two of my favorite story tellers. 

The pattern shows a cock (rooster) and a hen perched high in a tree. There is a fox beneath the tree. The story is one of Aesop's Fables, but it is also told in the "Nun's Priest's Tale" in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales." In Chaucer, the cock's favorite hen, Partelote, accuses him of cowardice because he is frightened by a bad dream. When a fox comes calling, the cock decides to show the hen that he is fearless, so he flies down to greet the fox. The fox flatters the cock by telling him he has the most beautiful voice. When the cock stretches his neck and closes his eyes to sing, the fox grabs him by the throat and runs off! Partelote and the other hens arouse the farmer and his wife, who give chase. However, the cock sees that they will never reach him in time. Reacting well under extreme pressure, the cock flatters the fox by suggesting that he should stop and tell the farmer and his wife that they will never catch him. The vain fox turns and opens his mouth to speak, and the cock flies out! The moral of this fable is vanity blinds one to danger and stupidity!

The little saucer illustrates a fable I did not remember.  I have read "The Nun's Priest's Tale," but I have forgotten the details of the story (I read it when I was 19). One of my favorite things about the study of transferware patterns is what I learn from them, or what I relearn. Vanity certainly can blind one to danger and stupidity!


Here's a close-up of the pattern. Can you see the hen?


Tuesday, November 17, 2020


An Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) Sporting Series Knife Rest (top) featuring a Gnu

Gnus are not common animals on transferware. There are lots of sheep and cows, but not too many gnus.  A helpful transferware collector sent me a photo of a knife rest with the gnu on one side and a grys-bok  (also grysbok) on the other side. The gnu and grys-bok are unusual to find on a piece of transferware, but it is also unusual to see a knife rest printed on both sides.

Enoch Wood Sporting Series Knife Rest (bottom) featuring a Grys-Bok


 Both patterns are copied from Thomas Bewick's 1790 book "A General History of Quadrupeds."


I wondered if the gnu appeared on any of the patterns in the Transferware Collectors Club database of patterns and sources. I found a gnu in the border of an "Arctic Scenery" platter.  For TCC members, this is pattern #10689.

The gnu is in the border at the top of the "Arctic Scenery" platter.

I also wondered if the gnu appeared on any other items in Enoch Wood's Sporting Series. I found a basket among my many thousands of photos that showed a gnu printed on the outside under the piercings.


Enoch Wood Basket with Gnu

What is a gnu? A gnu is an antelope. It's also known as a wildebeest.  A grys-bok is also an antelope. I haven't found another grys-bok on transferware yet. I shall keep on looking!

One more thing. What is the difference between an antelope and a deer. A male deer has antlers which he sheds and grows every year while an antelope has horns that are permanent.

And another thing. The center of the basket is the Polar Bear pattern.


Sunday, November 15, 2020


J. Dimmock & Co. (1862-1904) "Japanese" 16 inch platter

We are fortunate to harbor numerous snowy white egrets in the South San Francisco Bay environs. I admire these commonly solitary fishermen and fisherwomen, as they patiently await and then pounce upon small fish and other fare. One even dropped into our backyard one day (no fish). On a recent walk in the Palo Alto Baylands, we spotted one nearby.

I wondered how and if egrets were portrayed on transferware, so I looked at the Transferware Collectors Club Database of Patterns and Sources. The results were a bit surprising. The only egrets depicted on transferware in the database were from the Aesthetic period (let's say 1860-1900, more or less). Only four patterns have thus far been documented with "egret" in the pattern name, interestingly, all produced by W.T. Copeland (& Sons).

Ignoring pattern name and using the General Search for "egret" in the database, I found only ten patterns, with several additional makers. Searching the Aesthetic/Bird sub-category, the results indicate 259 recorded patterns! I am only showing you a few patterns. Let me know if you know of others. Also, let me know if some of the birds aren't egrets!

W.T. Copeland (& Sons) Egrets and Fans 10.12 inch plate

W.T. Copeland (& Sons) undertray

Powell & Bishop (1876-1878) "Aquatic" 17.5 inch platter

Brown-Westhead, Moore & Co. (1862-1904) "Alexandra" 9.25 inch plate

Ridgway, Sparks & Ridgway (1872-1878) "Indus" 10.62 inch plate or soup plate


G.L.Ashworth & Bros. (Ltd.) 1860-1968 "Melrose" plate

Sunday, November 1, 2020



Percy Big Cat and a Blue Transferware Teapot, ca. 1825

Percy Big Cat died on April 30, 2020. I didn't post about him because his death seemed irrelevant at the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic.  In the midst of all the chaos and human deaths, it seemed wrong for me to mourn a cat. 

I have had many months to think about what it means for me to mourn Percy. He was the second of three loses, sandwiched between my beloved friend Dora at the end of January and my beloved mother-in-law at the end of September.  I did post about their deaths. It was important that friends and relatives were informed. I even wrote a Dishy News post about Dora.

So, here is a post for Percy Big Cat. Constant companion. Giver of love bites and kisses. Spreader of huge amount of fur.  Winner of the loudest purrs!  Lover of pottery! See the photos below.


One more thing.  Percy's love for me was simple: food, affection, and a bed (mine) to sleep in. My love for him was simple too. It was unadulterated by all of the complicated ways I love other humans. I miss him. Even his fur.


My beautiful twenty-seven pound Ragdoll Cat (2007-2020)



Saturday, August 8, 2020

DARLA 8/8/20

Today, 8/8/20, would have been Darla's 80th birthday. I made a needlepoint picture of an iris (Darla's favorite flower) for her 40th birthday.  She thought that turning forty on 8/8/80 was terrific! Not one to moan about aging, she threw herself a fabulous party that included all of her family and friends.

One of the many things Darla and I shared was a love of Shakespeare, so I thought I would include something from Shakespeare on the back of the needlepoint (which I had framed). "Antony and Cleopatra" seemed apt, as Darla was as beautiful and as flamboyant as the Queen of the Nile.  The handwriting is John Siddall's. His handwriting was much better than mine.

I have the needlepoint picture now, as Darla's daughter gave it to me when Darla died in 2010. (John died in 1981.) This one little piece of needlework is a memory of two of the people I loved so much.  I'll add that they loved me too.

Who was Darla?  Look at my post titled Friendship. You'll see some transferware too.

Who was John? See my post In Memoriam.  Also shows transferware.

Darla Roberts Barclay 8/8/40-1/27/10

Wednesday, July 15, 2020


Hunting Series 18.75 inch platter known as Fox Hunting - The Death.  Notice the many foxhounds surrounding the hunters. And the fox!

An afternoon walk led to a serendipitous discovery. David and I thought we'd take a detour through my old neighborhood, where I lived in the 1970s.  In front of my old house, there appeared a dog and two people. When I said that I used to live in their house, they treated us like old friends. (They would have welcomed us into the house, but Covid-19 prevented this.) We talked about neighbors we both knew, gardens, Palo Alto, and their dog. I thought the dog was a beagle, but I learned she was a foxhound. The old saying about a "light bulb going off in your head" actually happened to me! My brain went immediately to a dark blue transferware series known as the "Hunting Series."  It mainly features scenes from a fox hunt. The dogs looked like beagles with long legs, but I realized they were foxhounds.

Hunting Series 16.25 inch platter known as Fox Hunt - The Start

Hunting Series 14.6 inch platter known as Fox Hunting - In Full Cry

There are thirteen patterns from this series in the Transferware Collectors Club database. Not all feature foxhounds and foxes.

One more thing. What kind of bird is in the border? Is it being hunted too?

Hunting Series border. What kind of bird is this?

Sunday, June 28, 2020


I recently entered a sauce boat pattern into the Transferware Collectors Club database. It featured a reindeer, and was part of Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) dinner service known as the Sporting Series.

The Sporting Series is one of my favorites.  For a lover of animals, what could be better than a dinner service that shows a different animal on nearly each size and shape? I put a question mark at the end of the previous sentence, but I really didn't need to.  There seemed to be a lot of items from this series in the database. I counted, and found there are thirty-eight different patterns! The Sporting Series may be the series with the most patterns in the entire database. Or, the most patterns of any transferware series.

I have written about this series in other posts: Polar Bears on Transferware.

 Ferrets on Transferware

 And, Lions on Transferware

Below is the pattern that initiated my love for the Sporting Series: Setter.  

The dog looked so much like my sister's beloved golden retriever. However, I learned that the breed didn't exist in 1825. (I love learning new things because of my study of transferware patterns.) I have owned my Setter soup plate since 1977, but I found another to give my sister for her birthday.

I have shown you four patterns from this series. If you want to see more patterns, search Sporting Series in the TCC database (TCC members only), or the free online exhibit "Printed British Pottery & Porcelain 1750-1900."

One last thing.  Here's a few of the Sporting Series patterns in a private home. Wish they were mine!

Tuesday, June 2, 2020


I love the saying on this pot and mug, "No handicraft can With our art compare/We make our pots of What we potters are," so I wanted to know more about it. It is obvious what the saying means, but I wondered about its genesis. I thought it might be Biblical, as the relationship between clay, God and humans appears in Genesis, but the best I could discover is that this is an old potters' saying. On the few items I have found, the wording is similar, but the word handycraft is spelled in different ways.

Davenport child's plate printed with a popular potters' saying, "No Handycraft can with Our art compare/We make our Pots of What we Potters are." Clay, of course!

A yellowware pot printed with the potters' saying on the base and the alphabet on the lid. 

A 2.5 inch high beaker printed with the potters' motto

A child's mug printed with the potters' saying. Notice that handicraft is two words.

A child's yellow printed brownware mug featuring the potters' saying.

I wish I had more to show you. Let me know if you have any patterns with this saying.

Friday, May 22, 2020


"Present from New York" 2.5 inch mug, ca. 1825, maker unknown.

I saw this small mug at an antiques fair many years ago. I liked the horse, but liked the text, "Present from New York," even more.  When I was a child, I was used to getting glass flamingos from my grandparents when they visited Florida, or a box of salt water taffy when they returned from Atlantic City.  However, they never brought me a pearlware mug that said "Present from Miami Beach." I wondered if there was a mug that said "Present from Philadelphia," which is my home town.  I did find a Philadelphia mug, but unfortunately, it wasn't for sale.

"Present from Philadelphia" 2.25 inch mug. The bird is goldfinch.

Now that I knew there were two mugs, I searched for others.  I found three more.

"Present from Delaware" 2.5 inch mug

"Present from Carolina" 2 inch mug

"Present from Boston" 2 inch mug

I have found three cities and two states, although Carolina could be either North Carolina or South Carolina. (By the way, all five of these mugs are in the Transferware Collectors Club Database.)  In the last twenty-five years, I haven't found another.  Do you know of any?

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


by David Hoexter and Judie Siddall

Parts of plates plastered to a wall in the Junagarh Fort in Bikaner in India.

Notwithstanding the title of this blog, we (Judie and David) are not going to discuss the current health emergency. We are only going to say that we hope all of our transferware friends are staying healthy and are following expert advice, in particular, isolate and stay at home if at all possible! And, wash your hands!

But we do want to tell you about what we are doing while we isolate. As previously disclosed (see the March 2020 post), we were recently in India (our trip ended on March 4, just in the nick of time). We are truly thankful we were able to make the trip, one of those "once in a lifetime" events, although perhaps we will be fortunate enough to return. Also, as previously disclosed in the earlier post, we visited the extraordinary Junagarh Fort in Bikaner, west Rajasthan, where we observed early to mid-19th century English transferware attached (literally plastered) to both interior and exterior walls at four locations.

A host of transferware drainers plastered to a wall in the Junagarh Fort. The areas between the drainers are smaller pieces of transferware plates (or other pottery items). The drainers at the bottom of the wall are Chinese Export. Click on the photo to make it larger.

A number of our 13 member group photographed the transferware. We had little time and poor lighting conditions, and one of the four locations is high on a wall, with most of the transferware at least 15 to 20 feet above the adjacent ground. So the images are less than perfect. But, nevertheless, we were able to document the displays.

The surround of this window is composed of parts of transferware plates. Click on the photo to make it larger.

But now, the real work has begun, and this is how the Coronavirus gets involved. We are utilizing our enforced isolation to identify as many of the transferware patterns as we can. It's a challenge, particularly as the pieces range from nearly whole to only a small part of the original piece. (It's a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle.) All the items are flatware of some sort, primarily drainers, but also plates and platters. A few of the patterns are just a maker's mark or other symbols. There are no indications that any of the pieces are tiles.

Willow drainer surrounded by Willow shards. You can see bits of other drainers that abut the center Willow drainer.

Thus far, we (with help from others) have identified 91patterns. We have at least 15 to 20 yet unidentified. There is some notable overlap of patterns between the three primary locations (the fourth location, which we call the Blue Room, has a large volume of Willow, but little else in terms of transferware, although it demonstrates exquisite Indian tiles, sculpture, and painting). The patterns include a large variety of pattern categories and makers, as well as age of production. Included in the 91 so far identified patterns (primarily transferware) are three Chinese export drainers, and we also have two painted creamware patterns, not yet identified.

Shown is a painted creamware drainer. Possibly Wedgwood. Notice all of the surrounding transferware bits and pieces.

Well, we can't help one little connection between Coronavirus and transferware. And it is minimal, to say the least. We searched the Transferware Collectors Club Database of Patterns and Sources for patterns which exhibited illness in humans (thus the Coronavirus connection). The current database count is 16, 232 (April 14, 2020). We found just one pattern "Virginia Attending the Sick." There are a few related subjects (mainly death), and a number whose subject is hospitals (but these are primarily actual historical buildings). And, there are a few showing sick animals. Our meager findings are shown below.

William Smith (& Co.) 1825-1855 "Virginia attending the Sick Poor" 6.6 inch plate

"The Orphan Child" 7.44 inch plate by an unknown maker, ca. 1830

Ralph Stevenson (& Son) 1810-1835 "Hospital Boston" 9 inch plate, ca. 1825

Scott (1800-1897) "The Sick Donkey" 7.5 inch plate, ca. 1840

We do plan to publish our identifications of all of the patterns, as well as further research and findings. Stay tuned. It may take awhile.

Lots of patterns to identify! Notice the hand painting between the drainers. Sometimes there is hand-painting and sometimes there are small pieces of transferware plastered between larger pieces. See the Willow drainer photo above.