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.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
The Bowes Museum: Ceramics
Ceramics at The V&A
Clubs & Associations
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Transferware
Source: Google News
Ceramics Crack the Contemporary Art MarketNew 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 FairNew 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
The Musselmans of Murrell: Pioneer Dealers in Pennsylvania German and Early ...Maine Antique Digest, January 14th
An undated printed broadside mailed to prospective customers lists a pine Dutch cupboard for $50 and a cherry one for $100, a “Residence of the late Richard Jordan” transferware platter in mulberry, 18½" long, was $7.50; 12 tallow candles, 60 years old...Read more
Throw a party with 'Downton Abbey' pomp and styleDetroit Free Press, January 9th
MacPherson said the Edwardians loved expensive hand-painted china and decorative transfer ware, which was new at the time. So patterned china would be most appropriate. Haul out Grandma's dishes, or borrow some from a friend. You can probably also ...Read more
Emily Sutton: Town And Country, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, until February 22The Press, York, January 1st
mugs, a silk scarf and a cut-and-sew tea towel. • Town And Country coincides with the publication of Transferware Treasures, a limited-edition, hand-bound, fold-out book of Emily Sutton's watercolours of Victorian transferware, published by Fleece...Read more
Auction Watch: Sales ring in the new year in grand styleTribune-Review, December 28th
8, the sale brings the wonders of the Far East with a collection of Orientalia that features vases, figurines, snuff boxes, bottles, prints transferware plates, furniture and fans in more than several dozen lots. Among the items with European origins...Read more
Antiques & Collectibles: You'll be seeing red in holiday glasswarePost-Bulletin, December 26th
This time of the year you can't walk through any consignment, thrift, antique shop or flea market without seeing red glassware and red transferware. This time of the year is a great time for collectors to pick up pieces, since some antique dealers...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