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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Brenner Estate Collection Marks End of John Russell's Material LegacyMaine Antique Digest, March 24th
On the whole, French transferware fared poorly, with much of the material simply passing and other pieces selling between $11 and $44. There were exceptions: four pieces of English black transferware in the “Canadian Sports” series did quite well—two ...Read more
As days get warmer, springtime tables go pastelLos Angeles Times, March 20th
Sveback, who has designed a collection of faux bois bone china plates, mixes in patterned china and old-fashioned transferware to make a bolder statement. Alongside the crockery, the experts recommend flatware with a cutting edge. "Silver feels very...Read more
Garth's Eclectic Auction Comes Alive with a Big Top VibeArtfixDaily, March 19th
On Friday, April 3rd, Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers will host their spring Eclectic auction where 900 items will be offered including: postcards, lighting, primitive furniture, Victorian, painted chairs, early chests, a Brunswick 9 foot pool table...Read more
WARREN COUNTYDayton Daily News, March 17th
Explore four different antique and collectible topics including collecting fountain pens, English transfer ware china, ancient Chinese jade and collectibles and Disney memorabilia. Admission is $20 per lecture or all four lectures and lunch for $75...Read more
Digging Into History: A boarding house's history unearthedFirst Coast News, March 9th
A piece of brown and white transferware china caught the crew's eye on Monday. The piece of brown and white transferware pulled from the dirt. (Photo: St. Augustine Archaeological Association). "This is really cool," someone said. Halbirt said, "It...Read more
Inside Circus Collector Howard Tibbals' Colorful HomeSarasota, March 2nd
The glass-fronted bookcase is filled with antique blue and white English transferware, cobalt glassware, and a few antique Chinese blue and white pieces. Sharp eyes will spy two wooden plaques that read “Private” and “Wisconsin”: they're test samples...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