The advent of underglaze transfer printing, perfected at the
Spode factory in Stoke-on-Trent in 1784, marked a key moment in the
history of British ceramics.
Different from the simple overglaze 'bat' printed wares produced
at the Worcester and Caughley factories from the 1750s, Spode's
ingenious method involved first the engraving of a design
onto a copper plate, second the transfer of the 'print' to the
biscuit-fired ware using a cobalt compound and gummed tissue, and
finally glazing and a second firing.
At the time it was said that just two 'printers' could produce
the same volume of decorated pottery as 100 painters. Importantly,
as the technology spread to countless other factories from
Staffordshire to Scotland, underglaze transfer printing permitted
mass production and - combining utility with ornament - were
affordable to a larger proportion of Georgian and Victorian
And today it is perfectly possible to eat your Sunday roast off
a 150-year-old blue printed meat platter that should cost under
by Roland Arkell
From the ATG Archive
23 January 2010
This graduated pair of Staffordshire shaped oval meat platters are printed in green with scenes from the rare and desirable ‘Arctic Scenery’ series.
22 November 2003
David Drakard is well known for his contribution to our knowledge of British ceramics both as a longstanding member of the English Ceramic Circle and as the author of two books on blue printed wares.
22 November 2003
This unmarked mid-19th century chamber pot was one of the choice lots in the mixed-vendor section of Dreweatt Neate’s recent sale.
ATG Site Search
18 December 2014
The stock of the Austrian-born British studio potter Lucie Rie (1902-95) continues to rise in the saleroom.
21 August 2014
In April 2013, the Nantgarw China Works Trust took on the lease of the site of the Nantgarw pottery where porcelain was produced under the aegis of William Billingsley between 1813-14 and again from 1817-19.
11 November 2014
A walnut secretaire cabinet by Peter Waals (1870-1937) has sold for £34,000 at Bearne Hampton & Littlewood in Exeter.
15 August 2014
There are signs that last year’s publication of ‘The Della Robbia Pottery’ by Peter Hyland has given a lift to the market for the distinctive wares produced in Birkenhead by Harold Rathbone and Conrad Dressler between 1894-1906.
13 October 2014
Mallett’s first major outing following the announcement of the Stanley Gibbons deal will be at Brian and Anna Haughton’s 26th International Fine Art & Antiques Show in New York from October 17-23.
25 July 2014
The centrepiece of Anderson & Garland’s sale in Westerhope, near Newcastle, last month was the eclectic Walton Temple collection.