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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Recent News: Transferware

Source: Google News

Unique pieces of history get to show off at VHFs Anique Market
Bristol Herald Courier (press release) (blog), August 3rd

Oma's and Opa's Fun came all the way from Gainesville, Texas to sell their fine china, including Masons Vista, Blue Willow, Brown, Mulberry, Green Transferware and Fostoria American Crystal. Vicki Clark and her husband, Kenneth, began antiquing after a ...Read more

Old things to love, July 30th

If my house was on fire, I would run back in for my transferware dishes. A quick snatch of history: Transferware was developed in England in the 1750s as a way to mass produce dinnerware so it was accessible and affordable for middle-class folks. It's...Read more

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Fine Books & Collections Magazine, July 27th

The ceramics are well preserved and include late 18th and early 19th century Staffordshire examples from makers such as Pratt, Clews, Hall, and Wood & Sons and several different styles including flow blue transferware, Crimean war lusterware, slipware ...Read more

Park Rangers investigate artifacts found at Washington on the Brazos State ... (blog), July 24th

They include a Jew's harp, an English transferware plate and some bones. These items have been excavated by professionals, and Failor said he wants to get people excited about the finds, but doesn't want people to start trying to find artifacts on the...Read more

Style at Home: 7 old things I love
The San Luis Obispo Tribune, July 20th

If my house was on fire, I would run back in for my transferware dishes. A quick snatch of history: Transferware was developed in England in the 1750s as a way to mass produce dinnerware so it was accessible and affordable for middle-class folks. It's...Read more

Dallas: Inn on the River Is The Perfect Spot for a Weekend Getaway
Haute Living, July 8th

Once you've settled in you'll be satiated with warm muffins and breakfast breads along with the main course which changes often. We enjoyed a perfectly prepared Eggs Benedict and would have happily licked the beautiful blue transferware plates if...Read more

How Vintage English Transferware Saved Nancy Roberts From Financial Hardship ...
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 Foreclosure ...
Huffington Post, November 16th

When Nancy Roberts' husband lost his job, their home, where the couple and their six kids lived, was in danger of being foreclosed. She and her family began holding garage sales to try to make any money they could. And Nancy's main contribution to the ...Read more