Here’s a little escapism for us today, with a fanciful landscape for your enjoyment.

This medium-size (just over a foot wide) ceramic platter was made by Allertons Ltd., in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England.  The pattern name is simply “Chinese,” as evidently the designer saved all of his or her imagination for the picture itself: a flower-bedecked landscape featuring curly-roofed pagodas, towers, bridges, robed figures, and even a little dragon perched on top of the main building.  (The transferred image is rather blurry – that’s the  fault of the actual piece, not my bad photography – so though I suspect the dragon is supposed to be an architectural feature, it could easily be a resident instead.)
Transferware printing on ceramic was developed in the late 18th century, as an economical alternative to hand-painting every piece.  By the mid 19th century, transferware patterns in a wide variety of styles were being produced, particularly by the many potteries in Staffordshire, England. Romantic and ‘exotic’ scenes, of varying degrees of accuracy, were very popular.  This pattern, showing what someone fondly believed to be a Chinese landscape, fits right into that tradition, and the Allertons pottery was founded in 1831 . . .  however, the mark on the platter’s reverse indicates that it was in fact made between 1929 and 1942.

Judging from the number of pieces available for sale today on auction sites,  Allertons’ “Chinese” pattern was a popular one in the early 20th century.  I’ve not found an example earlier than 1912 (the company added “Ltd.” to their name that year), so it would appear that this was a new design for the 20th century, not a reprint of an older pattern.  We often picture Art Deco and Modernism styles when we think of the 1920s and ‘30s, but historical nostalgia was also popular, and many designers looked backward, not forward.  Allertons’ romantic throwback “Chinese” design filled a consumer desire for new things that looked old.  In the late 1960s, this particular platter filled the same purpose again: an anonymous donor thought this piece would help us furnish our newly acquired Beall-Dawson House with appropriately antique-looking antiques.

Enjoy transferware?  Check out previous examples on the blog here and here, or visit our Pinterest board!