Entranced By Transferware!

It started innocently enough. I Tweeted a picture of a serving dish from The Hart and the Hunter and asked, “If I want to find a plate like this on E-Bay, what would I search for?” (OK, ending a sentence with a preposition isn’t so innocent, but go with me here.) A few people responded: “Transferware.” I Googled Transferware, to get a definition, and Wikipedia offered: “A style of ceramics including pottery, dinnerware, and other delicate items. It uses transfer printing, a decorative technique which was developed in England in the mid-18th century, particularly around the Staffordshire region.” Then I started searching for Transferware plates on E-Bay and I haven’t been able to stop since.

“What are you doing?” Craig asked me a few days ago.

“Looking at Transferware plates on E-Bay,” I responded.

“That’s weird,” he said.


Then, yesterday, the same question and the same response from me yielded: “That’s REALLY weird.”

Here’s the thing: I used to have a collection of funky, unusual plates from Fish’s Eddy. Then I bought more conservative plates there with my mom, a few years later. Finally, I decided to heed the advice of the Canal House ladies and buy simple white plates to make the food pop (Sound of Music plate notwithstanding.)


In terms of food photography, these white plates have done wonders for the pictures on my blog. Especially in daylight (see The Golden Salad, for example). But in terms of FUN, these plates are a little boring. Which is why the Transferware bug bit me so vehemently last week and why I’ve been searching for funky transferware plates non-stop, and put a bid in for the Dish and the Spoon plate that you see at the top of the post and the Joan of Arc plate you see right about this (the Disneyland plate I let slide).

Also, I just went ahead and bought this New York World’s Fair plate because it just seemed so cool:


And this peacock plate because it reminded me of the plate that got me into Transferware in the first place (sorry the picture sucks; they took down the original pictures once I bought it):


Sorry to say, I did not bid on or buy this Martha Washington plate, but that’s good news for you–it means it’s still out there:


The moral of the story is that life is too short for plain white plates, even if they make the food pop. I am a man who’s become entranced by Transferware and now my table will be a funky plate paradise and everyone’s going to say “Where did you get that?” and I’ll have to say, “Clearly you don’t read my blog.” Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some plate shopping to do.

17 thoughts on “Entranced By Transferware!”

  1. Hi Adam, I love transfer ware! I keep scouting flea markets and antique stores for interesting specimens that would be fun to photograph with food. Etsy is a good source too.

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  3. Are all these amazing collectible plates really food-safe? I sort of assumed they weren’t, but I have no basis for that…

  4. OMG, you HAVE to go to the Rose Bowl flea market. I use to go just to spend time with my mom & g’ma, but I found myself OBSESSED with buying footed tea cups & saucers. It’s the 2nd Sunday of the month…I highly suggest “wasting” a morning away there!

  5. Karen in Dallas

    I love the peacock plate! What a great idea. I’m sure you’ve scoured local thrift stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Church thrifts etc., you never know what other treasures you’ll find (like funky silverware). :-)

  6. I too love transferware, even though I insist on serving on white plates most of the time, transferware looks great on the wall. Though, I think you can take a decent food picture on transferware in the right light… Here’s one I took recently: http://instagram.com/p/nyqHJnr2rr/

  7. I am absolutely crazy mad for antique British porcelain, and spend way too much time combing antique and thrift shops for names like Myott, Staffordshire, Meakin, Grindley, Johnson Brothers, and Minton. No one understands my obsession, but these old pieces just seem otherworldly beautiful to me. {However most of the dinnerware I actually use is plain white.}

  8. Glad you passed on the M. Washington plate. She looks creepy! Love transferware, but can you put it in the dishwasher???

  9. Evangeline Phillips

    Transferware looks great on a white table cloth. If you are artistic you can decorate a piece of white cloth cut to the size of your table with either fabric paints or a variety of sewing stiches to tone with your pottery. Or you can do the same with a strip of hemmed cloth to go down the centre of your table, or make table napkins using the same method. All can enhance the appearance of your plates. I am looking for the right shade of blue sewing threads to make some sewn table decorations to tone with my royal doulton pottery. As yet I haven’t found the right shade of blue yet. I also am looking for a different shade of blue to tone with my wedgwood argosy pottery. I have made a green table runner which tones nicely with my spode provence pottery. It looks really good on top of a white table cloth with my spode provence pottery on. It is worth waiting to find the right shade of material or yarn – the result is really lovely special ocasions are made more special with the right setting for the meal.

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