Flow Black and Blue

Over the course of time I have seen and heard of Flow Blue. It’s a type of transferware that was very popular in the early and mid-1800s and is still highly collectible. According to Collectors Weekly, Flow Blue pottery began showing up in the 1820s in Staffordshire England. It was created when lime or ammonia was added to the kiln during the glazing process. The chemical caused the blue transferware to run and blur which many people found desirable.

Flow Blue Plate
WH Grinley & Co. Flow Blue (available at Reclamation Art Shop)

I, personally, love many of the Flow Blue patterns; I find them very pretty and unique. I didn’t, however, realize there were other colors until I ran across these amazing saucers.

Black Flow Washington Vase
Black Flow Washington Vase Wedgwood Saucers

In researching them, I could see they are marked “Wedgwood” and “Pearl Stone Ware.” They are also marked “Washington Vase” which turns out to be the pattern name. But these are not Flow Blue, they are Flow Black! And gorgeous!

Black Flow Saucer Trio

These date back to about 1860, so they are over 150 years old. There was a bit of yellowing on a couple of them but you can see one that I believe was the original color. It was a white glaze with a black transfer that was “blurred” in the creation of the Flow Black pattern. The earliest Flow Black Washington Vase was done by a company named Podmore, Walker & Company (PW & Co.) which then became Wedgwood around the 1860s when Enoch Wedgwood became the senior partner during the acquisition of PW & Co.


You will see the PW & Co. mark on Washington Vase from the early 1800s and then around 1860 you will see it marked Wedgwood using the same backstamp, an oval and ribbon. Pearl Stone Ware, which is the other mark on these saucers, was marketed by PW & Co. as a more durable earthenware, being fired at a higher temperature. Since these particular saucers managed to hang in there for 150 years, I guess that it is pretty strong!!

Washington Vase Flow Black Wedgwood Mark

You will sometimes see Flow Black referred to as Mulberry. I saw black but perhaps others see a slightly maroon tinge.

I hope you have enjoyed learning about this beautiful transferware and will be able to identify it when you see it. It’s very collectible! If you have any stories about your Flow Black or Flow Blue, leave me a comment. Have a great week!


From Here to There – Transferware

I was cruising around one of the local thrift stores I like to poke around in on Wednesday this past week. I tend to linger because as I’m shopping, they keep putting stuff out. So it’s hard to leave because I think I’m going to miss something! I think that is their diabolical plan and it’s totally working.

Transferware Creamer Royal China Colonial Homestead (photo courtesy of Vintage Eve’s)

Well, I was about done after I thought I had seen everything when I spotted the cute creamer above. It was nasty with dirt and grease but in great shape otherwise. It reminded me of my Noni’s house so I couldn’t resist. I brought it home, cleaned it up and put it in the shop.  It’s a piece of ceramic ware called transferware.

Transferware Compotier (photo courtesy of My Vintage Provence)

If you’re not familiar with transferware it’s created by transferring a print from an inked, engraved plate to a sheet of paper which is then applied to the unfired clay. Some sources state the paper is tissue paper. The clay or china, or whatever you are working with, absorbs the ink and after the paper is removed, the piece is then glazed and fired (Collector’s Weekly). Viola, transferware!

Charlottesville Hardware Company Purple Transferware Plate (photo courtesy of Sue’s Antique Wonderland)

It’s an interesting process that started around 1760. I would have thought that that was sort of advanced for the 1700s but they were really doing some innovative things at that time. It began in Staffordshire, England, which, according to Collector’s Weekly has been a center for fine ceramics for a long time.

Brown Tinturn Transferware Pitcher by Alfred Meakin (photo courtesy of Intrinsic Vintage)

Transferware allowed the ceramic houses to produce pieces faster than hand painting everything. Wedgwood and Spode were already doing that and doing it well.

French Ironstone Transferware Plates (photo courtesy of Themison)

Italian scenes and blue-and-white were very popular. Patterns such as Willow became iconic in reference to the art. Collector’s Weekly says that a company called Ridgeway produced a series known as “Old Blue” but was actually called “Beauties of America” in a bid to catch the American market. They depicted important U.S. buildings at the time.

Blue Transferware Old North Church (photo courtesy of Cottage Garden Vintage)

There was a particular glaze technique that sprung up around 1830 called “flown.” It was created by adding lime or ammonia to the kiln during firing the blue-and-white pieces and this made the glaze run or flow. Hence the name “flown.” You can check Collector’s Weekly for some manufacturers of this type of glaze.

Flow Blue T Walker Cup and Saucer (photo courtesy of Sexy Southern Yankee)

Many collectors today tend to collect based on certain attributes of the transfer such as flowers or a particular border. And of course many people collect based on what it is. Some people are into collecting kitchen stuff (ahem, I might know someone who collects these) or some people are into teapots or jugs. Whatever type of transferware you collect, there’s excellent examples out there.

Transferware Chamber Pot (photo courtesy of Surrender Dorothy)

I also happened to find this blog,  Nancy’s Daily Dish, that shows the steps of creating transferware in great detail . Check it out, it’s really cool!

Do you collect any transferware or remember it from a parent or grandparent’s house? I’d lover to hear about it. Have a great week!

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