Today I’m sharing everything I know about transferware. I have inherited a love of transferware from my mom. She is still finding new pieces to add to her transferware collection. I don’t actually have any of my own, but she lets me borrow hers all the time.
How about a brief overview of the history of transferware. Transferware first started appearing on the market in the late 1800s and exploded in popularity in the 1820s and 1830s. It is a decorative technique that was developed as an alternative to the costly process of hand-painting dishes, making it more accessible. The manufacturing technique used an engraved copper plate as a master pattern to transfer the design to sheets of thin paper. These sheets were applied to a piece of pottery and kiln-dried.
I used to feel like it was granny china. But I’ve grown to love how versatile it is. I guess we all become our mothers eventually. I feel like there are so many ways to use it on the table and for display.
I like that it doesn’t have to match and there are many different colors of transferware. The most common colors are blue (probably the most widely recognized), red, brown, purple, pink, and green, and some have multiple colors. You can collect just one or multiple colors. Transferware patterns generally show a “scene” with intricate patterns. It is not just a pattern on the di
Best Places to Find Transferware
The price range for transferware is all over the map. The very best place to find it at a bargain price is at a garage sale or a flea market. You can search your area for the best flea markets, every state has them. You can also find older pieces at some antique shops, but you will probably pay more.
The best places to look for Transferware from the comfort of your own home are:
- Replacements – You can find the odd piece here if you have a set you want to add to. If you don’t care about the specific pattern and are OK with mix-and-match you can build entire tableware. The prices are not cheap, but it’s an amazing resource.
- ETSY – It’s hard to just say “ETSY” because ETSY is really a collection of small businesses. I’ve got tips for buying things on ETSY here (it’s about furniture, but the same tactics apply to buying dishes). Most of the sellers you see are small antique stores. When you look for transferware on ETSY search by the color “blue transferware”. You will see something like this.
It’s easier to find what you are looking for if you make your search as NARROW as possible. For example, search “brown transferware serving dish”. When you do this you’ll get authentic pieces along with modern-day copies. If you don’t care if it’s authentic there are some lovely look-a-likes.
How Do I Know if Have Antique Transferware?
There are certain things to look for on the bottom of the transferware dishes when you buy them. This is called a maker’s mark which is like stamps to show who made them and sometimes the pattern name. Here’s an example.
If you are purchasing a piece online, the seller should share a photo of the bottom of the dish. Even if the dish is not marked, it can still be an authentic piece. Popular designs include Oriental patterns, exotic birds (like the Adriatic Pheasant), landscapes with exotic garden scenes, pastoral scenes, and lavish florals.
Is Transferware Still Made?
Transferware IS still made today. However, it isn’t made in exactly the same way. You can find “modern” transferware from manufacturers like Royal Stafford, which are even microwave-safe.
Do you like to use transferware when you set your table? If so, send me a picture of how you use it.