Today I’m sharing everything I know about transferware. I have inherited a love for transferware from my mom. She is still finding a piece here she can’t live without. I don’t actually have any of my own, but she lets me borrow hers all the time.
A brief overview of the history of transferware is that it was developed as an alternative to hand-painting dishes, making it more accessible. The manufacturing technique used copper plates which were used like patterns to transfer the design to thin sheets of paper. These sheets were applied to pottery and kiln-dried starting in the mid-1700s.
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 it comes in many colors. There is blue (probably the most widely recognized), red, brown, purple, pink, green and some that have multiple colors. You can collect just one or multiple colors. Transferware shows a “scene”. It is not just a pattern on the dish.
Best Places to Find Transferware
The prices on transferware are 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.
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. Or you can build a mix and match set. 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 he 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 salad plate”. 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 My Transferware is Antique?
There are certain things to look for on the bottom of the transferware dishes when you buy them. They are maker marks, which are 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), landscape with exotic garden 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.