Collectors still pay top dollar for early blue transfer pottery historical views


by Anne Gilbert

American historical views depicted on early 19th century English Staffordshire pottery have never lost their appeal, despite price uppers and downers. Especially popular is the image of the “Landing of General Lafayette “ in America. A single platter can be dealer priced at $950. However, several years ago the price could have been double. Currently, a Skinner Americana auction has an estimate for the platter of $400-$600. Any guesses?

Blue transfer Staffordshire Tureen with text under platter that reads, “Landing of Lafayette.” (photo courtesy of Pinterest)

Historically, Staffordshire, the heart of the 18th century English pottery district, was more than 10 miles long. It included the most important potteries such as Enoch Wood, Burslem and J & W Ridgeway. Equally important was the pottery of James & Ralph Clews. Enoch Woods is often referred to as the “Father of Pottery.” He opened his business in 1784 and made many types of tableware as well as punch bowls and statues. In the 1830s he introduced his blue and white “Historical Views,” made for the growing and lucrative American market. At the same time he made a series of “Historical London Views.”

After the War of 1812 there was great interest in American historical figures and books with paintings of historical events. This came to the attention of the Staffordshire potters. Soon George Washington and historic American buildings and events were turned into transfer print pottery. Entire tea sets, jugs, tureens, and dinnerware were made.

The early pieces were transfer printed in dark blue. One of the reasons for the color was that not only was it decorative but it also disguised blemishes yet kept its color when fired at high temperatures. Historians believe its greatest productivity was between 1818 and 1830. After that, other colors were introduced, including green, light blues and carmine. During the mid-19th century few American scenes were made.

CLUES: Though many pieces of Historical Views Staffordshire are unmarked, there is a way to identify makers. Each of the potters created a wide border with a variety of floral, foliage, fruit and shell designs. They are identified in one of the many price guides as well as
“American Historical Views On Staffordshire China,” published by Dover Books. Values are determined by the importance of the view, maker, age and rarity.

During the 1920s with the revival of all things relating to early American history, reproductions were made in America and England. They have never stopped being reproduced. Sometimes they are marked “Commemorative”; if they are from England, they are marked “Commemorative.” If they are from England or elsewhere, they will be marked with the country of origin.

Anne Gilbert has been self-syndicating the ANTIQUE DETECTIVE to such papers as the Chicago Sun Times and the Miami Herald since 1983. She has authored nine books on antiques, collectibles and art and appeared on national TV. She has done appraisals for museums and private individuals.