Transferware was an 18th-century English innovation in ceramic decoration in which copper-plate engravings were "transferred" to items via a "tissue." No longer was it necessary to laboriously hand-decorate ceramics like tableware, basins or tiles. This early form of mass production was an immediate success and demand grew over the early nineteenth century. Manufacturers like Spode and Wedgewood found eager markets for their deocorative, durable goods, particularly in the United States.
Transferware typically featured scenic views or portraits surrounded by a floral border. Initially limited to single colors, technological advances led to the use of varied hues and the introduction of the wildly popular blues and pinks such wares are known for. It's popularity in the United States caused many English manufacturers to feature American scenes, buildings or statesmen. There was an additional dimension to the American love of "Staffordshire" goods. As historian Jack Larkin has noted, transferware brought "pictures" to American homes that were often devoid of any other sort of "art" in the early nineteenth century.
As can be seen in this collection, Conner Prairie is fortunate to have a wide selection of transferware, including pieces by Spode.
This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.
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