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

Putnam-Phillips to exhibit work
The Manchester Journal, September 26th

"Using the notion of 'serving' I create objects associated with serving a meal depicting military women serving their country, combining military iconography with traditional elements of transfer-ware patterns. This re-imagining subverts the once...Read more

ASU Art Museum announces new ceramics curator
ASU News Now, September 23rd

His writing and work will be featured in a new book by Paul Scott, “Horizon: Transferware and Contemporary Ceramics,” to be published by Arnoldsche this winter. Johnson is currently a director-at-large on the board of the National Council on Education...Read more

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

Kevin Ware (5) didn't play during the Red-White Scrimmage game but shared a light moment with Chris Jones (right) at the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday. Oct. 12, 2013 (Photo: David Lee Hartlage/Special to the CJ)Buy Photo. 7 CONNECT 12 ...Read more

Historical society unearths 150-year-old tomato seeds
SaukValley.com, September 18th

Also discovered were medicine bottles, clay marble, part of a clay tobacco pipe stem, and “a lot” of dishes of the blue transferware style, in addition to tomato seeds – though at the time, no one was sure what kind of seeds they were. “[The diggers...Read more

Material Culture to auction Silver, Jewelry from Princeton's Silver Shop, Sept ...
EcommWire (press release), September 17th

The selection of antique porcelain is led by a tall 19th-century Belleek tankard, a set of 12 painted Belleek cider mugs, a large group of Princeton transferware plates, and an original set of 19th-century Lenox Exhibition Plates from the original...Read more

Gingerbread House a model of 19th century decoration
San Jose Mercury News, September 11th

English china called transferware from around 1825 is displayed in a niche in the dining room wall and might have been used by a well-off family like Seymour's. McKiernan started with one piece, and within two years she'd built a collection of 54...Read more

Weymouth's Gingerbread House is centerpiece of tour
Akron Beacon Journal, September 5th

English china called transferware from around 1825 is displayed in a niche in the dining room wall and might have been used by a well-off family like Seymour's. McKiernan started with one pice, and within two years she'd built a collection of 54 pieces...Read more