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Vol. 15 November 2003
Does Thanksgiving Sell?
We wondered if items in traditional Thanksgiving shapes sold well on eBay.  While we found a whole lot of turkeys and pilgrims that were not selling, we also found a few classics.
From the Editor...

Well, here it is Thanksgiving already!  We were curious if Thanksgiving related articles sold well in the glass and pottery categories.  We found a few items that caught our interest, so we thought we'd share them with you.

Last month's Plate of the Month article inspired one reader to ask if we could define "transferware" for her.  This month's article explains the process used to create the original transferware, and to describe the items now frequently referred to using that term.

And, a quick reminder that it's Shazaam time again!  Don't miss the GPSA's anual $1 opening bid sale going on now!

Large turkey platters were selling well, especially early transfer pieces by Spode.  One pleasant surprise was this 20th century Mason's Vista platter in pink which sold for $592.11
Pilgrim items aren't generally good sellers, unless they were made by Florence Ceramics of California.  This figurine of John Alden and Priscilla Mullin recently sold for $260.99.
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What's Thanksgiving without pie?  This terrific Knowles utiltiy pie set with underglaze decals went for $202.17
We went looking for an example of a cornucopia to round out our Thanksgiving article.  We know these aren't the traditional Thanksgiving style, but they were so fabulous we just had to include them!  This pair of Moser cornucopia shaped vases sold for $995.
What is Transferware?
by wgpaul
Last month, our featured plate of the month was a beautiful transferware plate by Jackson's.  This prompted one of our readers to ask for a further definition of transferware.  A recent search of active items on eBay in the Pottery category came up with over 2100 items listed as transfer or transferware.  So are all these pieces transferware? 

Let's take a look at the types of items found listed as "transferware" or as having "transfer" decorations.  We found three general types.

1.  Transfer Printing

Original transferware was made from about 1830 to about 1900, primarily in the Staffordshire section of England, but also in other countries such as France and the US. It was made by a several step process. First, scenes were engraved on copper. Then, the engravings were inked. Next very thin tissue was placed over the ink. Then the inky tissue was placed onto the piece, transferring the print.

This explains some things about transferware. It's why sometimes the prints seem slightly askew or two parts don't match up exactly right. It was caused when the transfer tissue was placed on the piece.  

It also explains flow blue - the transfer was moved, causing it to become blurry. Conventional wisdom has it that the blurriness was originally a mistake, but later done on purpose because Americans liked the blurry prints.

Early transfer printing is only one color. Blue Willow is a good example.  Some early transfer pieces were highlighted with hand painting to add color. Later transfer printers figured how how to do two and sometimes three colors on the same piece.   Purists would say this hand transfer method is the only method that can truly be called transferware.

2. Underglaze Transfer Decals

These were made with very colorful tissue-like decals that were actually placed on the unglazed item and then the item was glazed. The early 20th century German pottery with the gorgeous flowers that are referred to as transfers was done by this method, using beautiful transfers creatd by artists for this purpose.  Later, dinnerware in the 1930's and 40's used the same method.

While most early transferware was made in the Staffordshire section of England, many other areas made beautiful transferware as well.  The platter is American (Anchor Pottery) and the blue plate was made in Sweden (Rorstrand).  Both are from the late 19th century. 

The brown plate depicts an American scene, the Race Bridge at Philadelphia, but was made in England by Jackson's for export to America.  An entire catgory of collecting centers around historical Staffordshire.
This Minerva plate by Podmore and Walker demonstrates the great talent of the artists creating the engravings for early transfers.
Look for the break in the pattern at the bottom of this close up of the Minerva plate.  You can see it about 6 o'clock in the picture.  The break was caused by the need to match up the ends of the tissue transfer.
An underglaze decal on a Knowles batter picher.  Notice the deterioration.  Many people think this is wear, but it is actually disintegrating under the glaze.
This mid-20th century Memory Lane bowl by Royal China was printed onto the piece before it was fired, probably using lithography.
An underglze decal on a plate marked Bavaria.
3. Underglaze Printing

In this type of decoration, the design is printed directly onto the unglazed piece. Most dinnerware from the 40's through the present is done using this method. Silk screening, where the color is pushed onto the unglazed piece through very fine mesh containing the design, was often used and is the most common method used today.  Lithography is also sometimes used to apply the print.  This involves using a metal plate with the design engraved into it which is applied directly on to the unglazed piece.  Many of the 1940's copies of transferware were made in this way.  Many eBay sellers call this type of ware transferware as well, after the earlier wares it was intended to imitate.

So, which is transferware? 

It depends on if you are referring to the method or the style.  As a collector of 19th century Staffordshire transferware, I would only call the items made by tissue transfers in the style described in the first section transferware.  However, in recent years, (much to the dissatisfaction of fans of early transferware) some sellers and collectors have broadened the definition to include anything made in the style of early transferware.  It's important to understand the differences so you can accurately describe your items as a seller, and be sure of what you are getting when you are the buyer.
Note the differences in quality of the decoration.  The picture at left is a detail from a Davenport sugar bowl in the Genoa pattern.  The picture on the right is a close up of the Memory Lane bowl shown above.    The two pieces are approximately 100 years apart in age.
Plate of the Month
by Dianetiques
    Up until now, I have endeavored to present a plate selection for which attribution can be clearly provided. However, this exquisite plate is unmarked, so I must attempt to speculate about its age and origin. Let’s investigate!

     The identification of porcelains can be frustrating without hallmarks. In this case, the central motif provided a clue about the possible vintage. Observe the floral “E” and “II” with the crown – for “Ektarina” Russian Czarina Catherine the Great. This cypher apparently did become the Imperial Porcelain Factory’s identification mark for the years of Catherine’s reign – from 1762-96. Additionally, there are cartouche ovals, which contain other images – could they be part of the Royal Russian Romanov Dynasty? One ‘head’ does resemble Peter the I, also known as “Peter the Great, who ruled from 1696 – 1725. The thin moustache and profile are quite distinctive.

     Most Imperial porcelain is marked. There were several notable Russian factories which produced porcelain in the 18th and 19th centuries, and although the possibility exists that it was created in Russia, the combination of design elements – notably the use of blue, painted flowers and heavy Baroque gold enamel speak more of a French influence – and it is likely the plate was produced by Sevres, France.

     In fact, the central design is very similar to a sketched mark illustrated in plate 344 of the “Guide de L’amateur de Porcelaines et de Poteries” by Dr. J.G. Theodore Graesse, second edition 1868. Generally, marks are found under or over glaze on the back of the item. Sevres produced world-class formal porcelains that influenced porcelain decorating in the rest of Europe and Great Britain. Often imitated by German factories from Meissen and then Dresden, Sevres was commissioned to produce important decorative and service pieces for Catherine, as she was a voracious patron and consumer of fine decorative objects including fantasy porcelains. Could this plate, then, be from Sevres?

     On face value, the plate is decorated in the style commensurate with high Baroque design from the 18th century. However, patterns of such unique beauty were often continued in production just as Marie Antoinette patterned designs were copied long past her reign and death. If created as part of a true service set, the wear could be consistent with a porcelain plate made in the late 18th century. However, this piece could have also been created strictly as a “cabinet” or display piece and the surface decoration wear – patina – could likely date the plate from the mid 19th century.

    And so, the plate origin age remains a mystery! There is no guessing, however, that this is one of the most exquisite porcelain plates I have had the pleasure to acquire!
The mystery plate.  Who made it and when was it made?
What first appears to be interwined C's is actually an E, for Ekatarina, or Catherine the Great.
The blue background, heavy gold enamel and hand-painted flowers may indicate a French origin.

Back by Popular Demand!

GPSA sellers will once again be listing their year end clearance items beginning this week up until December 31st.  All items start at an opening bid of $1! 

Don't miss this opportunity to pick up a bargain from one of our reliable GPSA sellers!  All sellers abide by the GPSA guidelines found on our
home page

To see Shazaam listings at any time,
click here.  Check back often - sellers will be adding items over the next several weeks!
The following eBay sellers became GPSA members this month.  As members of the GPSA, they have committed to upholding the standards of the
Glass & Pottery Sellers' Association
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Archived Issues
October 2003
Egg Cups, Paperweights, The Plate Story
September 2003
Blenko, Sentiment China, Floyd's Mug
August 2003
Fostoria American, Chintz Plate, Pig Banks
July 2003
Candlewick, American Sweetheart, Dresden Plate, $16k Carnival Glass
Do you have an idea that you would like to share? A suggestion for a future article?
If so, please e-mail us at
May 2003
Shawnee Minis, Dresden MA Plate, Eggs in Your Computer
April 2003
Children's Dishes, Cut Glass, Russian Plate
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