Monday, October 17, 2016


I recently purchased a transferware egg.  My first.  They are rather uncommon.  I wrote about transferware eggs in an article for the Transferware Collectors Club in 2012.  It was titled "Transferware Darning Eggs."*   The egg shaped transferware items were used for darning, but they were also bell pull handles,** and, perhaps, love tokens.  They were, arguably, mainly gifts for children, as the patterns found on many of the eggs were also used on nursery plates.

John Wilkinson's (1820-1867) "Our Early Days" is the name of a series of children's patterns.  The specific pattern here is "Now I'm Grandmother."  The  4.35 inch darning egg includes the name of the child for whom it was meant, as well as a pattern on the other side.
Notice that the series name, "Our Early Days," is printed above each pattern. In the center, see the name and initials of the child for whom the egg was intended.

The other pattern on the egg is "The Pet."

Below are "Our Early Days" patterns found on children's plates.  The Transferware Collectors Club Database of Patterns and Sources includes 10 patterns from this series.

John Wilkinson 6 inch child's plate "Our Early Days/Now I'm Grandmother."

John Wilkinson 5 inch plate "Our Early Days/The Pet." Notice that the plate was too small for the print, which runs over the molded border.

Here is a pattern on a transferware egg that is copied from George Cruikshank's popular illustrations for Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 edition of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." The patterns appear as a series on children's plates and mugs.

A 2.38 inch darning egg with an illustration from "Uncle Tom's Cabin."  The illustration shows "Eva dressing Uncle Tom."

The other side of the egg shows the title of the book, "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

Child's plate illustrating "Eva Dressing Uncle Tom."

Illustration by George Cruikshank from "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852.

The TCC Database of Patterns and Sources shows 15 patterns from "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

One of my favorite children's patterns is associated with the London Zoo, "Visit to the Zebra."  It is found on both a child's plate and an egg.  The egg below was intended as a gift for a girl.

Darning Egg with the "Visit to the Zebra" pattern.

The egg above is also printed with a floral group (see a bit of it on the right) and the words"A Present For A Good Girl." 

"Visit to the Zebra" 6 inch child's plate. 

Boys were also given darning eggs as gifts.  Perhaps, the egg below was intended to be used by the boy's mother to darn his socks!  I think the girl's egg above was probably used to teach a little girl how to darn.  I am not being sexist.  I am thinking about the egg in the context of its time.

Child's 2.5 inch long by 2 inch diameter darning egg.

"A Present for A Good Boy" printed on the egg above.

Another pattern on the above egg.

I couldn't find the patterns on a child's plate, but obviously, they were made for a child.

Here is one more egg.  It is illustrated with patterns copied from "The Mother's Picture Alphabet," which was published in London in 1862. 

John Wilkinson (1820-1867) Darning egg, 4.25 inches. The pattern illustrates the letter "N."  See the picture sheet below.

Initials between the two pattern on the egg.

Train pattern on the other side of the egg above.

"Mother's Picture Alphabet N begins News-boy, etc."

Here is the egg I purchased.  It has a rather utilitarian design.  It doesn't appear to have been made for a child.  Perhaps I'll use it to darn socks.  Does anyone darn sock anymore?

Transferware 2.25 inch by 1. 75 inch darning egg

*Many thanks to Tony Calvin of Cumbria, England for sparking my nascent interest in transferware eggs.

**See p. 137 in "West Cumberland Potteries, Volume II" by Florence Sibson. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Notice the Shipping Series plate inside the small display table.

I was thinking about calling this post "You Never Know!"  I recently visited Filoli, a property of The National Trust For Historic Preservation, with my sister, my brother-in-law, and my husband.  The house is filled with many treasures, but no transferware (I thought).   Suddenly, my sister said "there's one of your things!"  A "Shipping Series" plate was nestled in a display table intended for small objects d'art, not a 19th century blue transferware plate. I wondered what this plate was doing in a house filled with more formal items.   Luckily, my brother-in-law knew that the former owner, Lurline Matson Roth, was the daughter of William Matson, who founded the Matson Shipping Corporation. 

The pattern known as "The Shipping Series" is one of my favorites.  It is a serial pattern printed with  a different ship or ships on nearly each size and shape.  Here are a few items from the series (the collection is not at Filoli).

A collection of the circa 1820s Shipping Series transferware pattern

Below is a larger photo of the pattern that is displayed at Filoli.  By the way, the name Filoli is derived from the first two letters of each of the following sentences: Fi/Fight for a just cause, lo/love your fellow man, li/live a good life. 

Shipping Series dinner plate, ca. 1820

The former breakfast room at Filoli is now known as the Ship Room.  It is filled with shipping memorabilia as well as model ships. 

The Ship Room (Breakfast Room) at Filoli is filled with ship memorabilia.  Notice the ship behind the glass.  It is carved from ivory.

Model ships in the Ship Room. 
I could stop here as this is the end of "you never know," but I thought I'd show you a bit more of the house.


Dining Room

Drawing Room/Notice the display table with the Shipping Series plate.

Dishes and Me!  I am reflected in the glass. The plates appear to be Chinese.

The End for now.  The gardens are magnificent, so I may do a post about them someday.

A tiny bit of the gardens at Filoli

Friday, September 23, 2016


I have written about recognition of the familiar before.   So I was happy that I immediately recognized the fox stealing a goose on a pattern posted by Rob Hunter on the British Pottery And Porcelain Discussion Group facebook page.

Shell edge plate printed with a fox carrying off a goose, ca. 1810

As the editor of the Animals Category for the Transferware Collectors Club database, I also knew the source print.  It is from "The Cabinet Of Quadrupeds" by John Church, which was published in 1805.

"The Fox" print is from "A Cabinet Of Quadrupeds" by John Church, 1805.

Look carefully on the right, and you'll see the fox making off with the goose.  The larger fox has already killed a hen, and the rooster is calling for help!   Now, take a look at how the source print was used by different manufacturers.

Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) vegetable tureen from the Sporting Series, ca. 1825.  Here you only see the fox making off with the goose.
Job Meigh (& Son) 1805-1834 "Zoological Sketches" tureen lid.  Here, you see most of the source print.  But where is the rooster?

Plate, 5.5 inches, shows only the large fox, the rooster, and the dead chicken.

"A Present For My Dear Boy" child's 2 inch mug shows the fox carrying off the goose.  This seems like a unsuitable pattern for a young child.

John Hall (1814-1832) "Quadrupeds" basket. Only the fox and rooster were used.  No dead chicken! No fox in the background.

Thomas Elsmore & Son (1872-1887) 7.5 inch child's plate with a molded alphabet border. This pattern may be a much later interpretation of the source print.  I wonder if the manufacturer was even aware of the source.
One of my greatest transferware pleasures is recognizing patterns used by different manufacturers.  Such fun!

Friday, September 16, 2016


Child's 7.25 inch plate with a molded alphabet border.
I have often been curious why the donkey and elephant are the symbols of the two major American political parties.  The animal symbols of the Democratic and Republican parties were initiated in the 19th century: the donkey during the presidential campaign of Andrew Jackson in the 1820s and the elephant during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln in the 1860s.  Both animal symbols were popularized by the political cartoonist, Thomas Nash, in the 1880s.

Many of the elephant and donkey (also known as an ass) patterns are found on children's items.  Here are a few of my favorites.

"Come Up Donkey" 4.75 inch child's plate

Child's 2.62 inch mug featuring a circus elephant.  A bit like what is going on in politics today.

Child's 4.5 inch plate featuring an ass or donkey.  No political criticism intended by me!  The TCC database says "A band box was originally a small oval box in which a clergyman's collar bands would be kept, etc." It is possible that the pattern refers to anything that is inadequate for its purpose, such as a bandbox to hold an ass. A similar American expression is "my ass in a sling."

I realize I didn't tell you much about the origin of the symbols, so if you want to learn more about the United States Republican and Democratic animal symbols, follow this link.

I can't wait for this election to be over!

Thursday, September 8, 2016


Summer vegetable and queso tostadas with fairy tale eggplants and spicy crema on a Spode Sunflower pattern blue and white plate.   

My family and friends know I hate to cook.  When David asked me to marry him, I told him I didn't cook.  He married me anyway.  That's not to say that I didn't feed my family, although my sons still let me know that eggs aren't really dinner food.  That said, I found that David and I, older adults, were eating in a rather unhealthy and boring way.  We bought prepared foods at our local deli, and often picked up burritos, Chinese, and pizza (all delicious, but heavy on salt and fat).  I wondered what it would be like to try one of the many websites that offered to deliver fresh food and recipes, and promised delicious, healthy meals without a lot of prep time and waste.  After reading lots of good reviews about the Blue Apron,  I  joined two weeks ago.  Last Friday, a box filled with lots of food was delivered.  We had dinner plans on Friday and Saturday, so I was concerned about how long the food would stay fresh.  I needn't have worried. The vegetables were incredibly fresh.  We made our first meal on Sunday, a pasta dish.  It has been a long time since I made anything from a recipe so David and I were a bit like a kitchen comedy act.   Neither of us had a clue what we were doing, so the next night (you get three dinners for the week), I did the prep work before we began.  The second meal went more smoothly, and the results were astounding.  I have never eaten a more delicious porchetta sandwich, and I don't even like pork.  The ciabatta roll was perfect (you toast it in the over with a bit of olive oil drizzled on top), and the spices that come with the meat were perfect too.  The pesto, made from kale, cheese, capers, lemon zest, and garlic lemon mixture, was the best I have ever eaten.  You make the pesto with these ingredients.  Nothing is from a bottle. The third night, we made summer vegetable and queso tostados.  The vegetarian recipe sounded as if it might be boring, but the play between the cheese, lime, and vegetables was perfect.  Again, this was one of the best dishes I have ever tasted.  Am I a gourmet?  No.  Have I eaten in many superb restaurants around the world.  Yes.

Obviously not a transferware plate, but I hadn't thought about a food post before I bit into the sandwich.  This is the porchetta sandwich with baby kale and marinated cucumber salad.  The plate is Arabia's  hand-painted Valencia pattern, ca. 1970. 
The food was delicious, and cooking with my husband was delicious too (this may be a new hobby we share).   My mother always said that "everything tastes better on a blue plate."  I think this saying could be amended to "everything looks better on a blue plate."  The taste is a whole different thing.  I look forward to making more Blue Apron meals and photographing more food on transferware.   I just have to grab my camera before I start eating!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Black printed brick-shaped money box, 6.3 inches by 4.3 inches by 4.1 inches high.  It is illustrated with five patterns designed for children; "The Pet Lamb" and "The Polka Dancer" are seen here.
I have only seen two brick-shaped transferware money boxes.  They were probably made for children, and didn't include a hole to remove the money.  So, not many survived.  One is owned by my friend, Dora.  It is printed with five patterns that are also found on nursery plates.  The other money box is owned by me.

Notice the hole on the bottom of the money box.  At least the whole box wasn't smashed to remove the money!  Dora's box has four molded feet.  You'll notice later that someone removed the feet from my money box.

 The money box has five different patterns.  Here is "The Butterfly."  Below is "The See-Saw."  

The top of the money box shows "The Market Cart."  Notice that this money box has only one slot for coins. 
Below is my money box.  It has two slots, perhaps for coins of different sizes.  The pattern shows a romanticized tiger hunt.  Any ideas as to the maker?

Brown printed 5.25 inches by 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches high money box.  Notice that this money box has two slots, perhaps for coins of different sizes.  The pattern is the same on all sides.

The bottom of my money box (seen above) shows that no one tried to remove any money,  but someone removed the feet!

The box is attractive even without its feet.