In my previous post I showed a grainy picture of a plaque titled 'Paul Jones' from an old auction catalogue. Below left is its pair, also inscribed 'A Present for E Towning'. Recently a similar plaque came up on eBay, this time with a hand-painted dedication to 'Harriet' – perhaps a sailor bought it as a gift for his sweetheart. If you were the buyer, please get in touch – I'd love a better photo.
This Sailor's Return transfer is attributed to Seaham, and also appears on very large frog mugs like the one below (click on the images to enlarge). The lustre decoration is similar to that on the 1847 Seaham jug (see centre below) in the Sunderland Museum. The final image shows the mug's immense size, next to a slop bowl with a similar transfer.
Closer inspection shows that the transfer on the slop bowl, although based on the same image, has some marked differences to the transfer on the mug. Note the lantern in the background in the right image, and the positioning of the sailor's bag.
The transfers on the slop bowl match those on a large frog mug in the Sunderland Museum, also attributed to Seaham Pottery. However, their lustre decoration is unlike any of the items attributed to Seaham so far.
To my mind, the items above look much more like wares from the Stockton Pottery of Thomas Ainsworth (see below). The circular plaques are sometimes found with impressed marks with a castle and anchor (see below centre), so the attribution for these items is pretty solid. Stockton items are often typified by what Ian Sharp has called 'slug trail' decoration. Note also the bands of lustre around the top of the jug, and compare them with the bowl and the mug above.
So the jury is out on the attribution of the slop bowl and second mug. As I've said before, attributing items on the basis of lustre decoration is an imprecise science, so more work needs to be done. As always, if you have items with these transfers that might help, please get in touch.
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.