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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What's it Worth? Wedgwood container, Metro Electric radio speaker, Kutani ...OregonLive.com, 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, informationBloomington 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 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
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
U of L transfer Ware hops up from hard fallThe 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