Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Everyone Gets a Pagoda

Bogwater Jim
Lafayette, NJ 07848


In the late 1800's, the English economy was booming. Working folks, who formerly just wished they could own some beautifully decorated dinnerware, suddenly found it possible. It was called "transferware." Copied from earlier, hand-painted ceramics, these prepared, stock designs were applied in scenic patterns, whether Oriental, pastoral or floral. Quantity and affordablity made transferware the rage of the day. One can imagine the kilns of the English potteries never cooling off.

I think of the young women of the period, carefully choosing their favorite color (red, blue, brown, green, mulberry and black). So many choices. Instead of lunch or a book club meeting, "girl's day out" might have meant a trip to the mercantile to add another piece to the household collection. How lovely, meeting a friend to discuss the merits of a farm scene vs. an Asian landscape.

The introduction of transferware just may represent a turning point in anthropology... the moment when homes got prettied-up for pretty's sake and shopping for everyday furnishings became a working class pastime.

I think this highly decorative creamware was a brilliant, happy, comforting addition to civilization.