Bowls are a boon for, and the bane of, collectors. They're irresistible because they contain a whole library of different transfers (7 on one item is not uncommon). They help us understand which transfers likely appeared side-by-side on copper transfer plates, and they often have impressed marks. But they're also a pain. Large, unwieldy, and difficult to display. They also tend to be worn through use. I suspect that every serious collector of lustre has a stack of bowls gathering dust in the corner somewhere. Jugs are less of a problem, although they rapidly suck up your living space, and become receptacles for household fluff.
Moore and Scott bowls and jugs often have similar lustre decoration. Impressed marks, usually on bowls, tell us with certainty where the items were potted, but not where they were decorated. From the 1860s, there appears to have been some division of labour, with Scott's, supplying Moore's with plain earthenware for decoration.
Moore's made many bowls with transfers from the 1840s and 50s - hunting scenes, ships, and other transfers like Waverley - which never appear on Scott's items. However, bowls with the common ship transfers from the 1850s are rare, which is why I've made such a fuss about the one sold at Bonhams recently with the date inscription 1859 (last bowl below). It is on the money for that date, with transfers of the Star of Tasmania (launched in 1856) and the New Bridge over the River Wear (opened 1859). But other than this item, I've had difficulty finding any Moore bowls or jugs from around the early 1860s.
Decoration on these Moore items is typified by zig-zag rows of pink lustre, something like an ECG (electrocardiogram) trace during ventricular tachycardia. Ian Sharp has compared the zig zags to the letter 'M' for Moore. Scott's also used wave-like decoration, but the waves tend to be smoother, shorter, and more curvy. However, the first bowl below shows that Moore's also used curvy waves. So trying to identify wares based on lustre decoration is an imprecise science.
Scott bowls and jugs with ship transfers
The three bowls below are all impressed 'Scott'. As discussed in my previous post, these items are decorated with identical enamels to the brown-bordered plaques. The lustre decoration on the side of the first bowl (right side of second image) has a more than fleeting similarity to the Moore zig zags. On the last bowl below, the way the lustre is painted around the transfers in thick swathes is similar the Moore-impressed bowl from Bonhams, above.
The similarities of decoration with early Moore wares are more pronounced on jugs with ship transfers. Unlike the bowls, the jugs are rarely marked, but the first ewer below is a typical Scott form (more on that below). The waves on the jugs below are pronouncedly zig zags and not curves. Again, the enamelling over the transfers is identical to that on the brown-bordered plaques. Another thing to note is the thick band of lustre around the rim of each item.
And look at the two bowls below. The bowl on the left has the Moore & Co impress. The bowl on the right, with very similar decoration, is impressed Scott. These items, however, might post-date the brown bordered plaques. The Moore bowl has an impressed letter under the 'Moore & Co' mark, in common with later Moore items (see another example at the end of this post). The transfers on the Scott bowl, and the last two jugs above, appear frequently on orange lustre items.
Scott bowls and jugs with 'group 1' transfers
These are the items which we can whole-heartedly attribute to Scott. They have transfers that never appear on brown-bordered plaques. The plaque forms they appear on are also found with the religious transfers that Scott used in the 1830s and 40s. The decoration is 100% Scott's. The lustre decoration is fluid and curvy. There are transfers of flowers, particular to Scott during this period, around the rim. The six bowls below are all impressed Scott.
Another unique Scott feature is the use of a series of transfers showing the months of the year. These often appear in the centre of the bowl, as in the last example above, and sometimes on the side like the two bowls below. I'm not yet aware of them ever being recorded on bowls with ship transfers.
The decoration of jugs that pair with these items (again these all seem to be unmarked) is very different to that of jugs with ships. There is no wide band of lustre around the rim. Rather, the rims are decorated with three fine bands of lustre and/or with flower transfers. Note the ewer below (bottom left). It appears to come from the same mould as the one with the ship transfer above, but has very different decoration. What better explanation than Scott's potted the ewers, decorated some themselves, but sent others off to Moore's, plain for decoration?
Later Moore pink-lustre jugs and bowls
Sometime around the late 1860s or early 1870s, Moore's began to produce jugs and bowls with the Scott group 1 transfers. Interestingly, the lower left bowl has the Agamemnon in a Storm transfer that originated at the Garrison Pottery, so is certainly post 1865. The decoration on these items is distinctively Moore's, and both the bowls below have impressed marks. So either the transfer plates moved from Scott's to Moore's, or, more likely to my mind, both potteries concentrated their decoration activities at a third location, Sheepfolds Warehouse, and shared transfer plates.
Clearly there's a risk of getting carried away, making a limited group of items fit the narrative you want them to fit, particularly where lustre decoration is concerned. The people who decorated pots with lustre, using their own unique signature strokes, could have moved from one pottery to another, just as the copper transfer plates did.
But... and it's a huge but ...we know what Scott-decorated jugs and bowls looked like in the 1860s, and they look very different from those decorated with ship transfers. The items with ship transfers, even if they're impressed Scott, have more in common with Moore bowls from the 1850s.
I think the confusion about attribution of the brown-bordered plaques has arisen because there are so many Scott-marked bowls with the ship transfers. Whereas, Moore appears to have made very few bowls and jugs during the 1860s. Perhaps decorating Scott jugs and bowls was enough, and Moore's focussed their energies on making plaques. Or perhaps Scott's made the plaques too, and all Moore's did during this period was decorate. But whoever did the potting, Moore seems to have more right of ownership of the brown-bordered plaques than Scott.
Stephen Smith lives in London, and is always happy to hear from other collectors. If you have an interesting collection of plaques, and are based in the UK, he will photograph them for you. Free advice given regarding selling and dispersal of a collection, or to those wishing to start one. Just get in touch...
This website is indebted to collectors, dealers and enthusiasts who have shared their knowledge or photos. In particular: Ian Holmes, Stephen Duckworth, Dick Henrywood, Norman Lowe, Keith Lovell, Donald H Ryan, Harold Crowder, Jack and Joyce Cockerill, Myrna Schkolne, Elinor Penna, Ian Sharp, Shauna Gregg at the Sunderland Museum, Keith Bell, Martyn Edgell, and Liz Denton.