Historic Sale of Historic Blue Transferware at Pook & Pook

An early 19th century historical blue Staffordshire transferware decorated soup tureen and undertray, the cover and undertray with a view of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum, Connecticut and the tureen with a view of the Boston Almshouse.Traditionally, porcelain wares were handpainted, giving them an expensive look and price tag, but in the mid-18th century, a factory in Worcester, England began using a process that allowed them to print designs on porcelain bodies, thereby making “the look available for less.” By inking a copper plate, transferring the design to a sheet of tissue paper and then firing the piece to fuse the ink to the body, it was possible to transfer any design to porcelain pieces and the growing middle class snapped up the new affordable option.

Early offerings mimicked the subject matter of the Chinese handpainted pieces that inspired them, but by the early 19th century, British factories were exporting a great deal of transferware material to the American market, pandering shamelessly with designs featuring famous Americans (George Washington and Thomas Jefferson) along with quintessential American scenes of the landscape and landmark events, including views of cities and important public buildings. (The piece pictured here shows the Boston Almshouse.)

Today, collectors chase these pieces, particularly those with historical subject matter or landscapes. From the Battery in Charleston to the Catskill Mountains, from the landing at Plymouth to the landing of Lafayette, the glimpses these offer of American life are wonderfully detailed and prized. So there’s no doubt they’ll be watching along with us today when Pook & Pook sells the Goldberg & Brown collection of historical blue Staffordshire!