Transferware is about as close as you can get to printing on ceramics. Developed in Staffordshire, England in around 1760, the technique consists of transferring a print from an engraved and inked copper plate to a sheet of paper.

The paper is then applied to the unfired clay, be it earthenware or bone china, which absorbs the ink from the paper. After the paper is removed, the clay is glazed and fired.

Staffordshire had long been a center for fine ceramics, but the Industrial Revolution made the area a center for mass-produced wares for England’s growing middle class. Transferware permitted potteries to produce far more than if they were hand painting everything, which Wedgwood and especially Spode capitalized on.

The sources for the earliest transferware designs were 18th-century blue-and-white porcelain platters and plates from China, which were very popular in England at the time. Italian scenes were also replicated in blue on white. During this early period in transferware, patterns such as Willow were introduced and quickly became entrenched in the form’s visual vocabulary.

After the War of 1812, Staffordshire potteries produced imagery calculated to appeal to American customers. Around 1820, a pottery called Ridgeway created a series of what is today regarded as Historical Blue Staffordshire, or Old Blue as it’s sometimes known, called “Beauties of America.” These handsome, patriotic pieces depicted important U.S. buildings such as City Hall in New York.

Other potteries turned out jugs and platters bearing pictures of Boston Harbor and Niagara Falls. And potter Thomas Mayer produced a highly collectible series of transferware pieces known as the “Arms of America,” which featured coats of arms for many American states.

By about 1830, some potteries were pushing the limits of blue on white by adding lime or ammonia to a kiln during firing, which made the blue glaze run or flow. These “flown” pie...

English manufacturers of antique flow blue included Wedgwood, Johnson Brothers, Minton, Royal Doulton, and Swansea. Patterns ranged from Blue Danube to Idris to the classic Willow. As for the objects themselves, they ranged from teapots to platters to vases. Even dog bowls were produced in flow blue.

One interesting subset of flow blue is the blue-marble effect. All-over patterns such as Lazuli lent itself to this look: When given the flow-blue treatment, the pattern would blur so that from afar the object resembled a piece of carved, blue-veined marble.

Today, collectors choose transferware based on the pottery, the subject, or even the border. Some like to collect only pieces with “Crown, Acorn, & Oak Leaf” borders, others prefer “Tulips,” or “Pineapple,” or “Grapevine.”

Use is the last major transferware-collecting category. Plates and bowls, of course, are good examples of objects designed for everyday use, while platters where often reserved for special occasions, which means their transferred patterns are often more elaborate and intricate.

Dessert items can range from pierced plates and baskets to footed serving dishes. Teapots and cups are also popular, as are jugs, ladles, and a category of specialized items delicately described as toilet ware.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

This gallery showcases highlights from the 5,000 items in the museum's ceramics collection dating from 1500-1900. I… [read review or visit site]

Ceramics at The V&A

Ceramics at The V&A

A great reference on ceramics from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Learn about different ceramics techniques and st… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Medium Dark Blue Staffordshire Transferware Platter Pearlware Glaze19th C Antique Staffordshire Blue Transferware Teapot W Bird & FlowersRed Staffordshire Transferware Pitcher Chess Playing Antique Circa 1835Antique Maitland Brown Transferware Lidded Serving Bowl,ladle & Sm Plate.great!C1835 Pekin Red Staffordshire Ironstone Pottery Coffee Pot E. Wood TransferwareEstate Lot 19thc Victorian French Creamware Transferware Plates Creil DechoisyAntique Cobalt Blue Transferware Lidded Jar Tureen George Washington NrAntique Dark Blue Staffordshire Transferware Saucers/bowls Syllabub Cup C. 1825Antique Blue Staffordshire Transferware Tea Strainer Blue Willow Typ View 182521 Pcs Stag Blue Transferware Child's Tea Set - EnglandScarce Mark Goodwins & Harris Red Staffordshire Transferware Dish Canova AntiqueChilds Porcelain Tea Set Red White Transferware Chinoiserie Antique Vintage Crown Ducal Bristol Teapot Red TransferwareCopeland Spode Tower Blue Historical Transferware Creamer & Water PitcherAntique Staffordshire "clyde Scenery" Purple Transferware Plate By JacksonsBlue Transferware Platter, Return From The Hunt6 1/4” Unmarked Early Staffordshire Red Child's Transferware Bread PlateRobinson Crusoe Soft Paste Octagonal Plate - Ca 1830 -staffordshire TransferwareAntique Staffordshire "sower" Red Transferware Cup & Saucer By AdamsTwo Antique Small Brown Transferware Handled Trays. Clews Transferware Plate, Greenwich PatternAntique Red Staffordshire Transferware Sauce Tureen Ladle Circa 1835 ChinoiserieAntique Ironstone Transferware Blue Willow Large Tureen With Lid J & M P B & Co.Wedgwood Romantic England Black & White Transferware Large Oval Platter EucAntique Black Transferware Pitcher Creamer, Indus Birds, Nest, 5", Ridgway?Antique Ironstone Transferware Blue Willow Tea Pot With Lid John Steventon Engla 1830-1850 Antique Staffordshire Blue Transferware Creamer PitcherCopeland Spode's Tower Transferware England Teapot And Sugar BowlBeatrice Wedgwood Brown Transferware 2 Pieces Cake Plate & Small BowlTransferware Plate Enoch Wood Wardour Castle, Wiltshire PatternTr Boote Tournay Brown Transferware Ironstone Small Platter, 7 1/8”x4 7/8”, 1885Antique Buffalo Pottery Blue Transferware Water Pitcher Canton Blue Willow Early 19th Century European Scenery Blue Transferware Plate Enoch WoodHistorical Staffordshire ~ Moulin Sur La Marne~ Blue Transferware Plate C1830 NrAntique Ironstone Transferware Blue Willow Tureen With Lid And Under Plate NrAntique Corinth G. Phillips Blue And White Ironstone Transferware Cup PlateYe Olde Curiosity Shop Transfer Ware The Bosphorus Ralph Hall Red Staffordshire Pottery Transferware Pitcher C1840sAntique Spode Camilla Pattern Blue Transferware Porcelain Coffee Pot W/ LidAntique Staffordshire "andalusia" Red Transferware Large Plate By AdamsPair Antique Black And White Transferware Ironstone TeacupsVintage Transferware Blue Willow Child's Toy Dish Covered Casserole W/ PlatterTwo Aesthetic Movement Wedgwood Plate ~ Brown Transferware Daisies ~ 1880Antique Blue Transferware 9” Plate Clews Staffordshire Peace & PlentySet Of 7 Antique Staffordshire Blue Transferware Plates Bowls Wild Rose PatternAntique Historical Staffordshire "columbus" Red Transferware Plate By AdamsHistorical Staffordshire ~ Pains Hill, Surrey ~ Blue Transferware Plate C1830 NrAesthetic Brown Transferware Plate ~ Pot Of Flowers ~ Palmyra ~ 1883Antique Black Transferware Ironstone TeapotAntique Platter Tower Copeland Spode English Transferware Dk BluePearlware Staffordshire Butterfly Cup Plate Green Transferware C1830C1880 Cinderella + Prince Charming Childs 2pc Tea Set Derbyshire TransferwareStaffordshire Childs Red Transferware Cup & Saucer Fruit Girl J R Godwin C1835 Pair Early 19th Century Staffordshire Blue Transferware Flat Rimmed Soup BowlsAntique J.h. Davis, Aesthetic Brown Transferware 'chatsworth' Stoneware PlatterAntique Spode Camilla Pattern Blue Transferware Porcelain Sugar & Creamer Set1830s Damascus Red English Staffordshire Pottery Scenic Transferware Creamer Staffordshire Adams Red Transferware Bowl Caledonia Scottish Hunt Xc 49.99Large Antique Doulton's Elaine Floral Transferware Platter 17.50 Inches Hall Asiatic Pheasants Blue Transferware Ironstone Sauce Tureen Underplate 1840s

Recent News: Transferware

Source: Google News

Inside Circus Collector Howard Tibbals' Colorful Home
Sarasota, March 2nd

The glass-fronted bookcase is filled with antique blue and white English transferware, cobalt glassware, and a few antique Chinese blue and white pieces. Sharp eyes will spy two wooden plaques that read “Private” and “Wisconsin”: they're test samples...Read more

What's it Worth? Wedgwood container, Metro Electric radio speaker, Kutani ..., February 9th

It is in the Fallow Deer pattern and is commonly called transferware, a style that uses transfer printing to produce fine lines similar to the engraved prints in old books. Retail prices of other Wedgwood pieces of similar size are currently ranging...Read more

Appraisal show brings laughs, information
Bloomington Pantagraph, February 8th

The large pitcher, whose size and swan motif drew praise from Moran, was transferware made in Bavaria and currently worth about $30. Tamar Lange, an assistant at the library, was pleased with the turnout and expected even more people for the afternoon ...Read more

Ceramics Crack the Contemporary Art Market
New York Observer, January 24th

Works by Italian designer Piero Fornasetti now represent a sizable portion of his sales, said veteran New York dealer Earle D. Vandekar. Few slices of the art market have changed as radically, or, surprisingly, have been taken more seriously, in the...Read more

Browsing at Metro Curates and the Ceramics and Glass Fair
New York Times, January 22nd

Paul Scott, an English artist at Ferrin Contemporary, has updated English transferware, with its romantic evocations of American scenes, in the rudest possible way. “Turnpike No. 3,” a rectangular tray showing a toll plaza on the New Jersey Turnpike...Read more

U of L transfer Ware hops up from hard fall
The Courier-Journal, September 22nd

Extra time away from the basketball court healing his leg has Kevin Ware healthy again. An early test proved that. The former University of Louisville basketball player now at Georgia State had a close call in his first game back on the Panthers...Read more

How Vintage English Transferware Saved Nancy Roberts From Financial ...
Huffington Post, October 2nd

Though it can date back to the early 1700s, English transferware has become a hot item on the vintage marketplace. (If you have any, it might be the right time to sell.) Nancy Roberts, who runs the English Transferware store on Etsy, fell in love with...Read more

Her English Transferware Etsy Shop Saved Her Family''s Home From ...
Huffington Post, November 16th

And Nancy's main contribution to the sales were her beloved English Transferware dishes. She started selling the dishes online, and realized just how much she could make. Roberts continued to buy and sell Transferware, and eventually, turned it into a ...Read more