Beyond Blue Willow: New Analyses of Transfer Printed Wares

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2018

Ceramics have long been the primary object of affection for archaeologists. Their durability, abundance, and decorative nature make them an ever present feature in any archaeological study. However, the same commonality that makes them so valuable to archaeologists also creates a tendency dismiss ceramic analysis as a new source of information. By taking a deep dive into the analysis of transferware ceramics, we aim to bring to light new insights on the types of questions and discoveries that in-depth analyses of historic ceramics can provide. We are focusing specifically on transfer printed wares, because their commonality makes them a regular feature of archaeological sites dating from 18th century onward, they are easily identifiable, and there is an abundance of information available about these wares through historic documents and ceramic collectors that makes in-depth archaeological analyses valuable to historic archaeologists working across the globe

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-6 of 6)

  • Documents (6)

  • Blue Willow Vessels and Life’s Other Mysteries: Understanding high value ceramics and their role in identity formation within contexts of company town economic deprivation (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only V. Camille Westmont.

    Historical archaeologists have long recognized the connection between material culture and identity. Ceramics, in particular, have the opportunity to inform researchers about economic choices, consumer decisions, and societal trends. However, when looking at communities that experience social and economic deprivation, the presence of (oftentimes more expensive) decorated vessels can cause confusion. Excavations conducted in 2016 focusing on the poorest workers’ housing in a coal company town in...

  • British Capital, Mercury Miners, and Transfer Print Ceramics in 19th Century Peru (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Douglas K Smit.

    During the late 18th century, Spanish colonies in South America increasingly liberalized their trade policies, leading to an increased access to British goods such as transfer print ceramics. In Peru, the importation of transfer print ceramics grew rapidly after independence in 1824, along with the entry of British capital into the mining sector of the Peruvian economy. This paper examines the role of transfer print ceramics at Santa Barbara, an indigenous mercury mining community located...

  • Colonial America Visits Colonial California: A Scenic Transfer-printed Vessel at Mission Santa Clara de Asís (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Linda Hylkema.

    Ceramics can often be used to identify changes in artifact assemblages on a scale of years, rather than in generations or centuries. There are potentially some useful applications of absolute and relative dating techniques for ceramic assemblages recovered from California’s Spanish missions. Recent excavations at Mission Santa Clara’s Rancheria (Indian Village) produced an assemblage of imported English ceramics, some with tightly defined production dates, which aids in our interpretation of the...

  • Patterns of Aspiration, Escapism, and Solidarity on the Transferwares owned by Montpelier’s Enslaved Community (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mary Furlong Minkoff.

    Over 50 unique transferprint patterns have been identified among the ceramic vessels recovered from James Madison’s Montpelier. Of these, the greatest variety of patterns are found within enslaved contexts. The variety and abundance of transferwares owned by enslaved people at Montpelier suggests that these pieces were selected for purchase because of their designs, rather than simply their availability or cost. While, decorative arts scholars and collectors, have recognized the use of...

  • Transfer-Printed Aesthetics in the Hudson River Valley (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael T. Lucas.

    The Hudson River has been a thoroughfare for transporting goods since the early seventeenth century. The Industrial Revolution and the subsequent development of railroad lines and the Erie Canal magnified the role of the Hudson River from Albany to New York City as a major economic artery for the new republic. At the same time, the Staffordshire potteries began producing transfer-printed ceramics for the world market. Manhattan’s docks were flooded with all forms of consumer goods. These goods...

  • What Transferware Can Tell Us: A Case Study Utilizing an At-Risk U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Collection from the Veterans Curation Program (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kelly B Brown. Alison Shepherd. Megan B Schwalenberg. Chaundria Wynn. Nancy B McKenzie.

    The study of transferwares from historic sites in the United States can provide a window into the lives of the people who used these materials.  However, there are many existing collections containing transferware that remain underutilized.  Since 2009, the Veterans Curation Program has rehabilitated 231 at-risk collections, rendering them accessible for research and educational purposes.  The Tombigbee Historic Townsites Project is one such collection.  Completed in 1983, this project aimed to...