In the late 1700’s, English ceramics-makers were mastering the new “transferware” technology—by which engraved (or painted) patterns could be quickly, easily and cheaply printed onto mass-produced ceramicware. Ceramics manufacturers like Minton and Spode began to create their own (Westernized) versions of the highly-collectible, very expensive, hand-painted blue and white Chinese porcelain which had previously been within the reach of only the ultra-wealthy. A collection of real Chinese ceramics were the definitive hallmark of an educated, worldly and sophisticated 18th Century Englishman. Now, thanks to transferware technology, even the English middle class (c. 1800) could afford a taste of “Oriental Exoticism”—an aesthetic that would remain popular (on and off) for the next 250 years.
Shown above, a (slightly) tongue-in-cheek adaptation of the English Willow transferware pattern. The tumblers, made in America in the 1940’s or 1950’s, come in two sizes—perfect for juice, luncheon wine or an afternoon gin and tonic.
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