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.

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Early 19th century teapot with a center pattern depicting a child reading a book.  It is known as "The Reader."  I have been called that too. 

A close-up of the center pattern.

I should tell you that I read the the New York Times Book Review (paper copy) every week.  Every review.  I have been doing this since high school.  One of my greatest pleasures is reading, so I am always looking for something new to read.  So, you can imagine my pleasure when I discovered online book sites, which review (and sometimes sell for amazingly low prices) new and old books that have been digitized.  I signed up with my email address for book notices.  I didn't realize that an email would arrive every day!  Even Saturday and Sunday.   Bookbub, the first site I discovered, was followed by Bookish and BookperkShelfAwareness, NetGalley, and LiteraryHub soon followed.   I felt duty-bound by my love of books to read about every book.  I was tyrannized by book sites!  Deleting a site without reading it felt like book burning!  I shall add that my iPad overflows (or it would if it weren't a computer) with books waiting to be read.   (I have given you links to these sites.  Follow them at your peril!)

There aren't a lot of transferware patterns that show books and reading.  Most, as you may know, were used on mugs and plates that were gifts for children who were mastering the art of reading. I wish I owned one.

Child's 1.94 inch mug "For Loving A Book," ca. 1830.  What a charming gift for a child who loves to read.  Or anyone who loves to read.

"For Loving A Book" child's 2.38 inch high mug, ca. 1830.

One more thing.  Pottery and books go well together.  As you can see, pottery and books are cluttering up my shelves as much as eBook sites clutter up my in-box. 

Pottery and books go well together!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Darla Roberts Barclay (1940-2010)

August 7 is National Friendship Day, so I thought I'd write about Darla Barclay, who was my best friend.  I met her in June 1971 when I moved from Philadelphia next door to her in Palo Alto.  I knew no one.  She befriended me immediately, and showed me around town and Stanford University: the Co-Op Market (no non-union grapes),  Bing Nursery School at Stanford (my oldest son and her daughter were 3), and Foothills Park (Palo Altans only!).  She introduced me to many of the wonderful things the Bay Area had to offer (and still does): the Oakland Museum, the Oakland and San Francisco Zoos, the Stanford Art Museum (now the Cantor), and all of the art museums of San Francisco. We visited gardens and beaches, and we hiked in state parks.  Through the years, she helped me navigate a painful divorce, a new marriage, a difficult pregnancy, and the death of my young husband. She celebrated with me when I married yet again.  She loved my sons as if they were her own.  Our friendship lasted nearly forty years, until she died of esophageal cancer at the age of 69 in 2010.  Darla was an only child, which she said gave her the right to choose her siblings.  I became her sister.

One thing we didn't have in common was my love of 19th Century English pottery.  She  liked modern, simple things.  She loved me despite my passion for pottery.

There are a few transferware patterns that are about friendship. The sentiment on the plate below sums up my friendship with Darla.  She would have liked the concept, but would have hated the plate.

"Friendship without Interest and love without Deceit" child's plate or lover's gift, ca. 1820.

I once gave her a mug similar to the ones below.  She gave it back!

"More Friends And Lefs (Less) Need of them" 3 inch mug.  The saying is from an old drinking toast. 

"A Present from a Friend" 2 inch child's mug.

"A Token Of Friendship" 2.12 inch child's mug .

"A Present for a Friend" 2.25 inch child's mug.

A few more things.  Darla was smart and beautiful.  She had a terrific sense of humor.  She was an outstanding gardener, an interior designer (her vocation), and a loving mother, daughter, and friend.  I miss her every day.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


There is a National Rat Catcher Day!  Really.  It is celebrated on July 22,  and it commemorates the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin (the rat catcher of Hamelin).  I found two transferware patterns that depict rat catchers.  I already showed you one pattern when I wrote a post about ferrets.  The rat catcher used ferrets to catch the rats. 

Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) 11 inch ewer from the Sporting Series, where nearly each size and shape depicts a hunting or hunted animal.   The ferret is used by the rat catcher to catch rats.  The man's sash displays rats along with a crown.  He may be a royal rat catcher!  Remember to click on the photo to make it bigger.

Here is another pattern.  It is quite humorous. The woman is holding her nose as she hands over the rat to the rat catcher.

Jug printed with a rat catcher and his client, ca. 1830.  Notice that she is holding her nose.

Here is my own rat catcher.  The feline kind.  If she were hungry (she never is in my house), I know she would catch rats.

Charlotte, the rat catcher

I read on the National Calendar Day's website that July 22 is also a day to thank all exterminators.  As someone who has suffered with flea and termite infestations, I'll second that!