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.
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Elvis Presley's record-player is star turn in Penzance auctionThis is Cornwall, December 8th
Likely to cause a stir are the 500 pieces of blue and white transfer-ware pottery collected by Michael Hickman while the massive Liverpool Spring Cup, a tour-de-force of Edwardian silversmithing, was presented in 1903 to 'Fighting Furley', a highly...Read more
Century-old Bungalow in Huntsville's Twickenham has layers of design (Cool ...al.com, December 5th
Two more Alan Davis paintings grace the walls of the dining room along with antlers and brown toile transferware plates. Two silver-plated altar candles stand on one of her painted furniture pieces. “I am big into abundance and a mix of things...Read more
Destination Design: Holidays in MiddleburgWashington Post, December 4th
The Middleburg Antique Emporium (107 W. Washington St.) has multiple dealers displaying plenty of the hallmarks country houses are known for: brass andirons, English transferware, silver candlesticks and horse paintings. Hastening Design Studio (116 W...Read more
Martin Lawrence Bullard-Style Influencer and MixxMaster Featured On ...PR Newswire (press release), December 4th
Martyn Lawrence Bullard mentions. "From 19th century pink transferware plates to 1940s tropical fruit printed fabrics, I could spend hours musing through these well-priced and totally fun decorative objects." Martyn Lawrence Bullard Designs uses...Read more
Chickasaw Christmas Tour of Homes set for Dec. 14Press-Register - al.com (blog), December 3rd
Johns will display her heirloom Windsor Fruit Transferware china, which is a fine example of a decorative technique developed in England in the mid-18th century. A huge holly tree is the focal point of Johns' wooded backyard. Country living is the...Read more
The Birth of a CollectorMaine Antique Digest, December 3rd
Her mother collects purple transferware, and Ruth's excitement grew as she found pieces of purple transferware. Soon she could identify mochaware, majolica, flow blue, Fiesta, Bennington, Leeds, and sewer pipe. She began to ask questions about patterns ...Read more
Thanksgiving feast of collectiblesMarconews, November 29th
On the road as I present my antiques appraisal shows, I have evaluated many objects that highlight the holiday including the traditional transferware turkey platter with an image of turkey and all the trimmings at its center, Napco ceramic salt and...Read more
Collectors Corner: Thanksgiving CollectiblesEcommerceBytes, November 16th
By 1870, English transferware makers were manufacturing plates and platters with Thanksgiving motifs for export to the growing American market. Romanticized depictions of Pilgrims, Native Americas, and - yes - turkeys were soon gracing holiday tables ...Read more