Monday, August 14, 2017


"For My Niece" 2 inch mug by an unknown maker, ca. 1830

Children's plates and mugs from family members were common gifts in the 19th century.  Mainly, the transferware patterns were intended as gifts from mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers, and sisters.  Less common were patterns from an aunt.  Here are a few.

"A Trifle for my Dear Niece" child's plate with a molded daisy border, ca. 1840

"For My Little Niece" child's mug, ca. 1820

"A Present From My Aunt" child's plate, ca. 1830

"For my Neice (sic)" 4.2 inch plate with a shell edge, ca. 1820. 

My Aunt Sylvia died yesterday.  She was 96.  For my entire life, she was someone who loved me unconditionally.  I will add that it easier, as her daughter Judy once said, "to be a niece!"

I was the baby born during World War ll that my aunt doted on (her husband, my uncle Herm, was in the Pacific and my father, her brother, was in Italy). I'll add that there were no other babies in the family in 1944.  I went to visit her every school vacation from the time I was ten. (I took the train from Philadelphia to Harrisburg on my own.)  I always knew I could tell her everything.  I asked her about clothes, books, and boyfriends when I was young.  I shared my successes and disappointments when I was older.  Aunt Syl always had comforting words and advice.  Her wisdom, intelligence, and kindness sustained me through my most difficult times.  I can't think of a better gift than the love of my Aunt Sylvia.

Rest in Peace Aunt Syl  (December 31, 1920-August 11, 2017).

L to R: Me, Aunt Sylvia's daughters, Debbie and Judy, and Aunt Syl

David, Judie and Aunt Sylvia at her grandson's wedding in 2012.

David and Aunt Syl's great great grandnephew Alex (our grandson) in July 2017. I took the photo.
One more thing.  I wondered if there were any patterns that were intended as gifts from an uncle.  There was only one in the Transferware Collectors Club Database of Patterns And Sources.

"A Present from my Uncle" 4.5 inch plate, ca. 1830. 

Monday, July 17, 2017


Ralph & James Clews (1814-1834) "Landing Of General Lafayette" platter.

I continue to learn new things from transferware patterns.  For example, I have always liked the "Landing Of General Lafayette"* pattern by Ralph & James Clews.  The color is usually a clear dark blue and the image is charming and naive:  boats float among cannon fire and clouds, and a large American flag flies over buildings that look as if they were drawn by a child.  However, I never thought much about the second line on the front of the platter, "In Castle Garden in New York 16 August 1824," until I took a ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  The ferry leaves from Castle Clinton, which was named in 1817 to honor DeWitt Clinton.  (Clinton was the Mayor of New York City, the Governor of New York State, and a United States Senator.)  It was renamed Castle Garden in 1824 when it was used as an entertainment area.  Castle Garden was the name of the fort when General Lafayette arrived in 1824 to be honored by a grateful United States for his service during the American Revolution.

Castle Clinton/Castle Garden was built on an island at the southern tip of Manhattan to protect New York during the War of 1812.  (You may remember that New York City was conquered by the British during the American Revolution, so the fort was deemed important for the city's defense.)  By the 1850s, Castle Clinton (no longer Castle Garden) was connected to the mainland by landfill, which created Battery Park.  It was used as an immigration station from 1855 until the Ellis Island facility was built in the 1890s, and later served as the New York City Aquarium. Although a lot of the buildings that surrounded the fort have been demolished,  the sandstone fort remains.  Today it is part of the National Park Service, and is known as Castle Clinton National Monument.  For more history about Castle Clinton, follow this link.

I wondered if there were other transferware patterns that feature Castle Clinton/Castle Garden, so I searched the Transferware Collectors Club Database of Patterns and Sources.  It is an excellent resource.

Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) "Castle Garden Battery New York," ca. 1825

Job & John Jackson (1831-1835) "Battery & C New York."  The "C" is for Castle.

I thought I'd show you both an old rendering of the Castle that is part of the exhibit at the site and a modern photo that illustrates how New York City has grown around Castle Clinton and Battery Park.  You can clearly see how the island was connected to the mainland by a causeway.

1831 picture of Castle Clinton

Castle Clinton National Monument.   No longer an island!  Castle Clinton is on the left at the front of the photo.

Here is a photo of the sandstone walls of the Castle today.  It is now the Visitor Center.

Castle Clinton in 2017
Although I grew up near New York and visited it many times,  I never knew anything about Castle Garden/Clinton.  It was the connection between the "Landing Of General Lafayette" platter and my visit to Ellis Island that opened me to more history.  And to more transferware historical patterns!

One more photo.  Below is a 3.5 inch cup plate made by Enoch Wood & Sons. You'll see that the pattern is part of the larger Enoch Wood platter above.  Notice that the focus here is on Castle Garden/Clinton.

Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) 3.5 inch cup plate known as Castle Garden Battery, New York.

One more thing, here's some information about the source print for "The Landing Of General Lafayette" pattern.  I found it in the Transferware Collectors Club online Exhibition titled "Patriotic America."  If you like transferware, you might want to look at this free website. And, thanks to the New York Public Library for the image.

*General is abbreviated on the platter as Gen.  Also note the different spelling arrangements of Lafayette's name.  Sometime it is "La Fayette" and sometimes it is "LaFayette."  I used Lafayette.  You may have a favorite spelling.

Sunday, June 11, 2017


Detail of a hummingbird from an Aesthetic Movement pattern, ca. 1880.

A hummingbird in my garden sent me to the database of the Transferware Collectors Club to see if there were patterns that featured hummingbirds.

Male Allen's Hummingbird (I think).  It is sitting on a rose in my garden.

I didn't find a lot of patterns, and all of them were Aesthetic patterns from the late 19th century.

Maker Unknown 3.75 inch miniature plate from a child's dinner service, ca. 1880.  It shows a hummingbird and flowers.
Maker Unknown 6.5 inch water pitcher with a pattern number of 8923, ca. 1880.  It shows a hummingbird feeding from a flower.  The other side is seen below.  The pitcher is both printed and painted.
Maker Unknown pitcher, pattern number 8923.  It is the other side of the pitcher seen above.

Maker Unknown plate with hummingbirds, ca. 1880.

Samuel Moore & Co. (1803-1874) "Fern Leaves" 10 inch plate.  There are both ferns and raspberry plants.

There were a few more patterns in the database, but you get the point.   The patterns were fairly similar.

If you want to know what kind of camera was used to take the photo of the hummingbird, it was an iPhone.  My husband took the photo. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017


Mid 19th century 2.5 inch child's mug "Blind Man's Buff"

Lots of common children's games appear on transferware plates and mugs: for example, blind man's buff (or bluff) and marbles.
Mid 19th century 2.5 inch child's mug "Playing At Marbles"

These games were still common when I was a child in the 1950s, but I wondered if the games are still played today.  I showed my seven year old granddaughter some of the patterns.  She knew about blind man's buff, marbles, charades, leap frog, rope jumping, and kite flying.

Child's 6 inch plate with the following text: "Charades/My first is productive of the light/My second to wood has affiance/My whole is high polished and bright/And my first on its aid has reliance/Candle-Stick." Maya didn't feel this was a good example of Charades. 

Child's 2.44 inch mug "Leap Frog"

"Children's Play The Rope" 4.38 inch plate

"Trimming The Kite" 5 inch child's plate

She also knew some top games, although not Whip-Top.

"Whip-Top" 3 inch child's mug

She and I were totally puzzled by Puss in the Corner, so I thought we'd do a bit of research. 

"Puss in the Corner" 2.5 inch child's mug

Wikipedia is my go-to encyclopedia, although I still have my late 1970s set of World Books.  Here's a link to Puss in the Corner.  Maya thought she'd teach the game to her school friends.

She was also unfamiliar with "Thump Away Jack," but she felt "Thump Away Jack" wouldn't and shouldn't be allowed anymore.  I agreed.

Child's 6.25 inch plate"Thump Away, Jack"  The entire verse, which is difficult to see, reads: ""Thump away Jack -- take care of his head/ It's all in good fun -- now hit him hard Ned."

We were both surprised that there were no plates that feature Hop Scotch.  It was such a popular game when I was a child and continues popular today.  However, Maya and I were very happy to see a plate that showed children reading books to one another.

Mid 19th century child's mug featuring children reading aloud

She was shocked last year when I told her there were no iPads when I was a little girl.  Her pity was touching.   However, now that reading is a passion for her, she no longer feels sorry for me.

Although, she does love her apps.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Since it's the middle of May, it's past the time to write this post about April transferware patterns.  I suppose I'd better get started on May too!

As I have said before, patterns with months make nice birthday presents.  My children have more than one.

I'll start with a Wedgwood plate printed with the April tile pattern.  Remember that the month patterns were originally made for tiles, but proved so popular that Wedgwood adapted them for plates.  Wedgwood paired the tiles with borders already in use.  Here, the "Ivanhoe" border was used.  Not surprisingly, the border is mainly found with centers that depict the Sir Walter Scott story of "Ivanhoe." 

Wedgwood (1759-2005) Month plate "April," ca. 1880.  The April center is paired with Wedgwood's Ivanhoe border.

I added a photo of an "Ivanhoe" plate to make my text clearer. 

Wedgwood (1759-2005) soup plate from the "Ivanhoe" series designed by Thomas Allen, ca. 1882.  The border was popular, so Wedgwood used it with their month tiles too.

Below is an April pattern that is part of a series known as "Seasons."  The word "April" is found in the circular cartouche in the bottom of the center of the pattern.  Here, the month of April is illustrated by a man who is hawking, not the usual rainy scene with an umbrella.

William Adams IV & Sons (1829-1861) 10.62 inch plate printed in the "April" pattern from the Seasons series.

Many of the April patterns were made for children.  They were popular gifts in the 19th century and continue popular today.

Child's plate printed with a figure representing "April."  It looks as if he is doing the Spring pruning.
Child's 7.25 inch "April" plate by an unknown maker. Notice that is is nearly the same as the pattern below.
Scott (1800-1897) "April" 6.5 inch plate.  Although the pattern looks the same as the pattern on the plate above, this one has the sign of the zodiac for April behind the girl.  The head of Taurus, the bull, is next to the girl's left arm, and its lower body and tail are near her right arm. 

"April" child's plate showing two children with the ubiquitous April umbrella.

Let me know if you have any April transferware patterns.

Sunday, April 30, 2017


Canada Geese and Goslings

Despite their messiness, I've always liked Canada geese   I saw some recently during a walk in Shoreline Park in Mountain View, CA.  They made me wonder how many transferware patterns feature geese.  There are quite a few, but none that look like Canada geese!

Many of the patterns were made for children.

"Goose" pattern cup, 2 inches high by 2.75 inches in diameter. The text says "Goose," but the bird is probably a duck!  I thought I'd include it because it looks a bit like a Canada Goose.
Known as Geese Attack, this 5.5 inch plate shows a family attacked by geese.  I was bitten by a goose when I was a child.  They look adorable, but can be quite mean.
Some patterns are humorous (sort of) like the one above, and some were designed to educate like the patterns on the mugs and plate below.
Children's patterns were often teaching tools.  This 2.75 inch mug is an alphabet mug: "Gg/G for Goose and Gardener too."
Alphabet 6.25 inch plate with a molded alphabet border: "Goose, Gate & Gun."
Alphabet 2.5 inch mug: "G stands for Gander, for Goose, and for Gift."

Some patterns illustrate Nursery rhymes and fables.

"Nursery Rhymes" 7.5 inch plate "Goosey Goosey Gander."  The plate has a printed alphabet border.

Maw & Co. (1852-1979) 6 inch tile printed with an illustration of the unfortunate end of the fable "The Goose Which Laid Golden Eggs."

Hunting patterns often include geese. 

Enoch Wood & Sons (1818-1846) 10 inch plate from the series known as "The Sporting Series," ca. 1825.

Hunters are not always human.
J.F. Wileman (1869-1892) "Sporting Scenes" 8.25 inch plate featuring a fox and its kill.  Would you want to eat from this plate?

Thomas Elsmore & Son (1872-1887) child's 7.5 inch plate with a molded alphabet border.  It is titled "Fox And Goose." 
One more photo of the Canada geese.  The child is rather close to the geese.  I hope they don't bite!

 Below is a large bronze sculpture of geese near the entrance to the Children's Zoo at the San Francisco Zoo.  Maya looks concerned, but these geese don't bite!

Bronze Goose sculpture at the San Francisco Zoo
Do you have any favorite transferware patterns that feature geese?