Category Archives: Transferware

English “Transferware” Cups (and more)

My taste in cups — and most objects — tend to be simple designs using natural materials.  I am not into glitzy things, bling on my clothes or overly ornate objects.

My favorite cup at the moment is this blue-green little stoneware beauty, which came from a thrift store (I do not know the manufacturer, only that it is from Japan).

Current Favorite Cup marked from JapanNow that I have an Etsy store, it is easier to expand my appreciation for more ornate objects, since I am curating these for the store.

And although I am taking the item home, I know that my relationship with the object is short-lived… that is of course, if I am successful in selling the item.

I can love the object and know that eventually, it will go to someone who will love it even more than I do.  And if it is going to a home of an avid collector, then even better as it will have many companions!

Take this cup for instance…

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While this cup may not be something I would want to use everyday, looking at the intricate details of the image certainly gave me an appreciation for the artwork.

The image on this cup is applied via a process called  “transferware”.   Transferware also refers to a particular style of pottery and dinnerware ceramics.

The cup is made in England —- the place were transferware originated.

Cup Transferware Image Details

The beautiful image is first engraved by an artist on a copper plate.

Wet ink is then applied on the copper plate and pressed onto very thin, tissue paper.  The tissue paper is then transferred  to the blank cup (or plates and the myriad of tableware items) and then dried in a kiln to permanently set the image.

The story behind how transferware was started is nicely done on Nancy Roberts’ blog Nancy’s Daily Dish.   Here is an excerpt from Nancy’s article:

Although John Brooks, an Irish engraver is credited with having the first patent for the transferware printing technique in 1751, it was John Sadler and Guy Green of Liverpool, who independently discovered  the process, who are credited with perfecting the technique in 1756.

…Like his father, John was a kind man who showed compassion to the less fortunate. He would give extra prints he had to the children living nearby who would in turn go the local potteries and ask for the ‘wasters’ which were broken or un-saleable pots and pottery.

The children would affix the prints to the pottery and use them as decoration in doll houses and play.

When John saw the decoration he wondered, “What if pottery could receive an impression from a wet print, and then be fixed by firing afterwards”.

This thought sparked what would later come to be known as one of the greatest stories of mass production ever.

John, who had apparently developed a close relationship with Guy Green, probably like that of brothers, upon envisioning the idea of a piece of pottery with a print upon it, immediately and confidentially called on Guy Green to explore the possibilities of his new idea… (click here to read the complete article)

Here is my Etsy Store listing for this cup:

Etsy Listing Transferware
You can click on the image to see the listing at the Etsy website.

 

And actually… I had another transferware item — a plate — that I listed over a month ago (before I learned more about transferware).

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You can click on the image if you want to see the listing on my Etsy Shop

The castle image is what attracted me to this particular piece.

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You can click on the image if you want to see the listing on my Etsy Shop

The plate is by Johnson Brothers of England, in the Old Britain Castle Series .

This particular plate is the Blarney Castle 1792, with stamps on back and “Stoke-on-Trent England”.

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The city of Stoke-on-Trent is located in the county of Staffordshire, England — and Staffordshire is known as the area where the transferware technique was developed.

Interestingly, the famed English potter Josiah Wedgwood — founder of Wedgwood — was born in this area.

Because the Staffordshire area has an abundance of fine clay, a pottery industry has existed in this region since the 12th century.  Wow!

Though with so much manufacturing going to the Asia region these days, I do wonder if the pottery  industry will continue in this area, in this century.  Will we see less and less “Made in England” pottery?


So at least now, when I see this type of pottery and ceramic images, I will know a bit more about its history.

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