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
09 September 2015
Items from the estate of Mary Burkett, former director of Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal, attracted great excitement and plenty of competition at Mitchells of Cockermouth last week.
15 April 2015
After lengthy and complex negotiations, the paper archive of the Staffordshire pottery firm of Minton’s has been saved for the nation.
18 August 2015
An impressive collection of pictures, studio pottery, furniture, personal effects and letters has been consigned to auctioneers Mitchells of Cockermouth from the estate of Mary Burkett, former director of Abbot Hall art gallery in Kendal.
13 April 2015
A 20-piece Nantgarw dessert service has sold for £20,000 at Campbells of Worthing. It was consigned on behalf of a titled lady.
08 June 2015
A previously unpublished book of ceramic designs that could shed new light on the work of Dr Christopher Dresser goes on public view for the first time during a three-day festival celebrating the life and work of the Victorian designer.
13 March 2015
“I was pleased to see resurgence in the Ruskin and Pilkington’s lustre market. Ruskin particularly was back to pre-2002 prices. Pilkington’s had also slowed but these prices show a real enthusiasm for good pieces again.”