Liverpool And Other Printed Ware
AT the end of the past and beginning of the present century, great numbers of cream-colored pottery pitchers and mugs were printed in England with various designs and were sent to the United States for sale. These pieces were advertised in early Federal days, and are known as " yellow ware " and Liverpool ware, and are found in seaport towns on the Atlantic coast, especially in New England. Many bore mot-toes, inscriptions, likenesses, and views relating to America and the celebrated Americans of the time, and thus form interesting mementos of the wars of the Revolution and of 1812. I have never seen a Liverpool pitcher in an inland country home, nor have I ever had one offered to me for sale in an inland town, either in a private home or an antique shop. The reasons for this are very simple : many of them were brought to America by Yankee sailors and sailing -masters who lived, as a rule, in seaport towns, and importations of these pitchers were not transported inland in ante-railroad days with the facility and safety that we find possible nowadays ; and, best reason of all, nine-tenths of them with their ornamentation of ships and brigs and ropes and anchors were made to tickle the fancy of a seafaring man, and did not appeal to the sentiment of a land-lubber of a farmer.
It is always a great delight to the inland-dwelling and novelty-seeking china hunter when she enters a low, single-storied seaside home, and spies on the mantelpiece a creamy Naval or Sailor pitcher flanked by a carved Indian idol and an elaborate model of the
Nimble Nine-pence," the " Belisarius," or the " Three Wives " (named by one stanch old widower after he was married to wife number four). Her joy is, as a rule, quickly turned to lamentation, for the housewife who values her Liverpool pitcher enough to place it on her parlor mantel, will never be " willing to part with it." And here let me render my thanks to the American merchant service. Blessings on those dead and gone old seafaring Yankees who risked their lives on the stormy seas and brought home " behind their wooden walls." the variety and wealth of china and crockery that have descended to us, a pathetic reminder of the weary watch on deck and the homesick hours in cabin or forecastle.
A few Liverpool plates with Masonic designs are found, and some teapots, but the majority of Liverpool ware that was imported to this country was in the form of mugs and what are known as watermelon " pitchers. I know of one great yellow ware cheese-dish in' Newport —a curious stand or frame in which a whole cheese two feet in diameter could be placed upright on its edge and thus served and cut on the table ; but such pieces are exceptional.
I am impressed when looking over the lists of sales and the catalogues of existing collections in England, that china collectors find in America more, cheaper, and more varied specimens of Liverpool wares, especially those bearing transfer prints, than can be found in England. They abound in American antique shops. Even the rarest and most interesting of all—prints on tiles, pitchers, and teapots bearing the mark of Sadler—are often discovered here.. A whole set of Sadler's tiles was taken from an old colonial house in Newport.
Previous to the Revolutionary War no porcelain or pottery was made specially for America, or, at any rate, none with special designs ; but after we became a separate nation the English potters made much china and crockery for the American market, and made patterns for individual purchasers as well. Washington and Franklin were the American names best known in England previous to the year 1800 ; and I have never seen Liverpool pieces that could be assigned to an earlier date of manufacture than 1800 that bore the names even of any other Revolutionary heroes or statesmen, except, possibly, two pitchers decorated with battle - scenes, which are entitled respectively, " Death of Warren " and " Death of Montgomery ; " a pitcher with a portrait of Adams, and one mug printed with the name and portrait of John Hancock. Englishmen had vague ideas of the names of our States as well, for Boston and "Tennessee" often appear on these wares in. the list of the thirteen States.
The number of stars depicted upon the American flag or shield on these and Staffordshire pieces is often held up as ample testimony to the date of the piece. Such reasoning is, of course, absurd. English engravers and potters were as ignorant about the number of States as they were about the names of the States, and might easily have given fifteen stars when there were only thirteen States, or clung to the number thirteen long after we had twenty States. I have seen several designs with the United States flag bearing twelve and even nine stars.
Many of these pitchers are decorated with designs relating to the character, life, and death of Washington, and such are known as Washington pitchers. A list of the prints upon these pitchers is given in Chapter XIIL, devoted to the china commemorative of Washington. These pitchers bear portraits and sentiments, verses or inscriptions eulogizing the virtues and bravery of the " glorious American," or indicative of our national loss, and grief at his death. The lines, " Deafness to the ear that will patiently hear, and dumbness to the tongue that will utter a calumny against the immortal Washing-ton," were much favored and printed by English potters, and were placed on pitchers and mugs of many sizes and shapes. The legend fails to tell, however, the awful fate which should fall on the hand which limned the senile, feeble, forlorn caricatures of the face of Washington which usually appear in company with the lines, and make us suspect intentional malice in the British artist.. These absurd likenesses vary as much as did the can-vas portraits of the Father of His Country at the recent Centennial Loan Collection at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, and in some cases bear no resemblance whatever to the well-known benign countenance,and are evidently a portrait of some English general falsely labelled Washington..
There is a print found on cream-colored teapots and plates and jugs that look -like Liverpool ware, which is sometimes called "Washington and Martha Drinking Tea," by American dealers who assert that the two figures in the out-of-doors tea-party are intended for the General and his " lady," as he called her. The man in this print certainly bears a marked though somewhat mincing likeness to our first President, while the fact that the servant who approaches with a teakettle is a negro, is offered as conclusive proof that the scene is laid in America ; and indeed, I have seen one teapot upon which was pasted a paper label with the words, "Scene at Mount Vernon, George and Martha Washington Drinking Tea." Of course every china student, and indeed every person of art education, knows that the figures of negro servants appear in many English tea-party prints of that date, in such, for instance, as the watch-back of Battersea enamel engraved by Richard Hancock, of the Worcester China Works, and in the transfer prints by the same artist, shown on page 235, Vol. I., of Jewitt's "Ceramic Art in Great Britain." The pieces bearing this " George Washington" print that I have seen, bore no stamp to show the place of manufacture; but there is a tea-canister numbered G252 in the Museum of Practical Geology, printed with this scene, which has the impressed mark " Wedgwood." It also has on the other side of the canister the same group of shepherds and sheep that I have seen on many pieces in America. I am afraid we cannot claim this as a Washington print. It was engraved when Washington was a struggling surveyor, when no English-men, and few Americans, even knew his name. Miss Meteyard says that this group is from one of Jenssen's printed enamels, and she gives an illustration of it on page 64, Vol. ll., of her " Life of Wedgwood."
I only mention this among the Liverpool prints, and as possibly eligible to the Washington list, in order to prove (to make an Irish bull) that it is certainly not the one andi probably not the other. It is quite as interesting, however, to the china collector (if not to the historical student or the relic hunter) as an example of Hancock's designs for transfer printing and when one of these teapots is offered for $1.5o (as I have had one in a New York shop within a year), it is well for any collector to buy it.
I will say here that these cream-ware pitchers are not from Liverpool factories alone, they are from various Staffordshire potteries, but all cream-colored printed pitchers are generally known in America by the name of Liver-pool ware. Some, of course, are unmistakably so, for they bear the various marks of the Herculaneum Pottery, or the figure of the bird which was the crest of' the arms of Liverpool—the liver or lever. A special design or mark of the American eagle with the words " Herculaneum Pottery, Liverpool," seems to have been made for pieces intended for the American market, and often appears upon them.
The heroes and victories of the American navy form frequent decorations of the specimens of this printed pottery that are found in America. The first Naval pitchers bore the design of a ship or a frigate under full sail, with the American flag and_ the words, " Success to the Infant Navy of America." These were printed to commemorate Truxton's capture of the French frigates Insurgente and La Vengeance while he was commander of the Constellation during our little marine war with France in 1799. This capture was honored in a popular song called " Truxton's Victory," and was as great a source of delight to Englishmen as to Americans. Truxton received from England many tokens of esteem, including a service of silver plate worth over $3,000. Long and bitterly during the constant naval defeats of the English in the War of 1812 must those British merchants have regretted that silver token of encouragement to the American Navy. A gold medal was ordered by Congress to be struck in honor of this victory, as was also done in honor of each of the naval heroes of the war of 1812. And many pitchers and mugs were decorated with their portraits and names in order to commemorate their victories.
It seems odd that English potters should have made so many pitchers bearing testimony to the victories of their late enemies, unless they were ordered by American dealers specially for the American market; but I have never seen anything to prove that such orders were given.
Many pieces bear the portrait of Perry and the words of his famous dispatch, " We have met the enemy and they are ours." I never look at a Perry pitcher without thinking with interest• and pleasure of this brave young captain, who was only twenty-seven years old when he achieved his famous victory. He fought the fierce naval battle clad in his sailor's suit, but changed at the last to his full-dress uniform in order to receive the surrendering English officer with full dignity. Nor do I ever see the jolly round face of Hull on pitcher or mug without thinking of his comical appearance during the naval battle between the Constitution and the Guerrière, in which he won such deserved honors. Hull was very fat, and being somewhat dandified wore very tight breeches. When, in that fierce contest, he gave his first roar of command to the gunners, " Now, boys, pour into them—Free Trade and Seamen's Rights ! " he bent over twice in his intense excitement and split his tight breeches from waistband to knee. He was more of a soldier than a dandy, however, for he finished the battle and captured the English ship in that " undress uniform."
Of course the pitchers decorated with American subjects are most interesting to Americans, but there are many other Liverpool pitchers found in New England, which bear, instead of American heroes and battles, such lines as these :
" Dear Tom this brown jug
Another has the jovial inscription, " One Pot more—and then—why then—Another Pot of course."
And this sharp warning is given to those who would wish to drink and not to pay :
" Customers came and I did trust 'ern,
A few pieces bear less decorous and elegant verses, such as the mug deriding the Established Church, labelled, " Tythe in Kind or the Sow's Revenge." A clergyman bent on collecting tithes is being attacked by a sow in a pigsty. The farmer's family are laughing while the parson is crying out :
" The fattest pig it is my due
Another pitcher has a fling at the Romish Church, for it bears a likeness of his Satanic Majesty and of a priest, with the words,
" When Pope absolves
I have seen in America a number of drinking mugs of cream-colored ware, which may properly be spoken of here, though it is doubtful whether many of them were made in Liverpool. They have the raised figure of a toad or frog placed inside, with the pleasingly jocose intention of surprising and scaring the drinker, who would fancy as the ugly head rose out of the decreasing liquor that it was a real batrachian climbing up the side to jump down his throat. One of these mugs had the frog tinted a dull green and brown, entirely too natural and life-like in color to prove pleasant or appetizing. Another two-handled Frog mug was of coarse -white ware, unpainted, and had an exceedingly modern look. This was probably Newcastle ware. The price asked for these in " antique shops " is usually three or four dollars apiece. I have seen none with mottoes as has the one numbered S 17, in the Museum of Practical Geology.
" Though malt and venom
These Frog mugs are usually large in diameter, and are sometimes decorated externally with designs of ships or naval heroes. The frog's appearance in sight would then prove more effectually terrifying than if the drinker were warned by an instructive motto of the figured reptile within.
Another agreeable old English practical joke is in the shape of puzzle jugs, specimens of which exist in England, but have been rarely found in America.. They were made in Liverpool and Staffordshire in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, and in salt-glazed stone-ware at Nottingham in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They were so constructed that when lifted to the lips they emptied by secret passages their liquid contents over the face and breast of the drinker. Some-times there were three spouts from the rim. If the drinker covered two of the spouts with his fingers, he could drink from the third. This motto is on a puzzle jug of earthenware, of Liverpool make, in the collection of George M. Wales, Esq., of Boston :
" Here, gentlemen, come try y' skill ;
Another rhyming inscription reads :
" From mother earth I took my birth,
And now I stand here filled with good cheer— Taste of me if you can."
Another short invitation reads :
" This ale is good, taste."
And when you tasted, in good faith, you received a beery shower-bath, which was no doubt considered very funny by eighteenth-century Englishmen.
On another is written :
"Mathew the V 16." —not a very appropriate text-reference.
Still another rhyming challenge reads thus
"A Crown Ile bet
A puzzle jug in the possession of the Vintners'-Company is in the shape of a milkmaid bearing a pail. The pail is set on a swivel, and when the drinker tries to swallow the liquor, the pail sends its contents over his chest.
Cream-ware pitchers bearing Masonic emblems are frequently found, usually having also the name of the persort by whom they were ordered, or for whom they were made. These rather egotistical lines were prime favorites among these pitcher-buying Masons:
" The world is in pain
Another much-used set of Masonic verses runs thus:
" We help the poor in time of need
We build upon the noblest plan,
And a third
" To judge with candour and to speak no wrong,
Some of these Masonic pitchers are of enormous size, as if the buyers wished as much of a pitcher as possible for their money. Many of them were printed at the Worcester factory. I have also seen some fine designs that had been drawn with a pen by hand in mineral colors and then fired in. Pitchers and mugs of Chinese porcelain are also seen with decorations of Masonic emblems and mottoes.
Sailor pitchers are found in comparatively large numbers, with touching prints of a sailor bidding an affection-ate farewell to his lass, under a flag and over an anchor, accompanied by such appropriate verses as the following :
" When this you see
Or this legend, a misquotation from Charles Dibdin's song :
" D'ye see a cherub sits smiling aloft
This is often accompanied by the figure of a fat little cherub perched in the rigging of a ship. These Sailor pitchers were brought home frequently at the end of a voyage as gifts for a sweetheart or a wife, as is plainly seen by these verses printed with a picture called " The Sailor's Return "
" I now the joys of Life renew
And also this tender sentiment :
" The troubled main, the wind & fain,
Or these lines:
" Kindly take this gift of mine,
It is a curious fact that feminine owners are exceptionally unwilling "to part with" these Sailor pitchers. A halo of past romance, of sentimental fancy, surrounds the yellow-ware love token that " Uncle Eben brought from Injury to Aunt Hannah," or " my grandpa got painted in Chiny for my grandma when he was courtin' her" (for even these staidly sombre English pitchers are gloriously Oriental in country owners' eyes). This latent longing for sentiment, this tender sympathy with youthful love and affection, lies hidden deep in every woman's heart, no matter what her age ; and, in the dull, repressed life of many New England homes, finds expression in a stolid clinging to the only visible token of a love and lovers long since dead. One stout old woman, with calm face but suspiciously shaky voice and hands, brought out for our admiring view, in company with a crimson silk crêpe shawl, a pair of small Liverpool pitchers printed with a spirited marine view of a full-rigged ship, the names John Daggett and Eliza Maxom, and this doggerel rhyme :
" No more I'll roam,
"Who gave you them pretty picture pitchers, Grand-ma ?" said the- little child who was clinging to her skirts.
John Daggett ordered 'em painted for him an' me in Liverpool on the last trip he ever went on. He was the han'somest man ye ever see ! He died on the v'yage home, an' yer Granpa, he was a-seafarin' then, he stopped an' got 'em on the way back, an' brought 'em home ter me." Alas ! poor John Daggett ! your thoughtful gifts of love furnished forth another wedding-feast with the considerate sailor-companion as groom and comforter. But though passed to " a happy, peaceful life " on a far-distant shore, you are not forgotten, but through the reminiscent power of your last gift, live a tender idealized memory, a dream of eternal unchanging youth and beauty, in your dear lass's thoughts. Your two Liver-pool pitchers have never been thoughtlessly or carelessly used in your shipmate's, in " Grandpa's," home; they have lain for half a century unscratched, unnicked, unbroken, true cinerary urns of vanished hopes and promises, wrapped in the crimson crêpe shawl in the deep drawer of a high chest in your old sweetheart's "spare-room."
In this case we encountered a sentiment which we have met more than once—a willingness on the part of the owner, when she found we admired the piece, to let us have it, since we would cherish it safe and unharmed, rather than to give it or leave it to relatives who had openly derided it or called it a worthless old thing. As this New England sentimentalist expressed it, while she slowly folded the shawl around the beloved pitchers, " I'd almost ruther let ye have 'em, ye seem to set such store by 'em, than ter leave 'em ter Asa's wife, she aint brought up the children extry careful, an' I know they'd smash 'em in no time, or put 'em in hot water or knock the nose off. Come again next year an' I'll think it over, I hate ter part with 'em just yet after I've kep"em fer fifty-two year an' three months, but I'll see."
Various prints that are of more interest to Englishmen than to Americans are seen on these Liverpool pitchers ;' such is the view on the large mug owned by an old Newport resident, which bears the inscription, " An East View of Liverpool Lighthouse' and Signals on Bilston Hill, 1788." In the centre of the design is a lighthouse with forty-four signals around it. Each signal is numbered, and below is a key with the names of the vessels and their owners. This print also occurs on plates. In the days before the telegraph Liverpool merchants were won`t to go down to the riverside, about two or three hours before high tide, to see whether there were any flags hoisted on the lighthouse poles, as was always done when a vessel came in sight. Thus were owners notified a few hours in advance of the approach of their craft to port.
Another mug owned by the same gentleman has a map with a caricature of Napoleon Bonaparte standing with one foot on Germany. The other foot, having been placed on England, has been cut off by John Bull, who says, " I ax pardon, Master Boney, but, as we say, Pares of Pompey, we keep this. spot to ourselves. You must not dance here, Master Boney." Napoleon is saying, " You tam John Bull, you have spoil my dance, you have ruin my projects." A second Bonaparte mug has a red print of John Bull sitting upon a pedestal, inscribed " The British Constitution." He looks across the Channel at Napoleon, who is weeping and crying out, " O ! my poor Crazy Gun Boats, why did I venture so far from home," while John Bull says, " I told you they would all be swamp'd, but you would be so Damned Obstinate." The inscription is " Patience on a Monument smiling at Grief," with this distich :
The Mighty Chief with fifty thousand Men
A third Bonaparte mug is thus described in Notes and Queries :
" Under a trophy of arms are figures of John Bull and Napoleon. John Bull is in the act of striking his opponent with his right fist a severe blow on the nose ; the nether end of Napoleon is at the same time in collision with sturdy John Bull's left boot. Inscription, ` See here John Bull drubbing Bonaparte ! ' On either side of the picture we have,
What ! to conquer all England how dares he pretend, This ambitious but vain undertaker,
When he knows to his cost that where Britons defend, He's unable to conquer one Acre ! '
"If your beggarly soldiers come among us, they'll soon have enough of it ; and, damn me, if any ten of you shall have my person or property—so be off!' ` Damn ye ! you black-hearted, treacherous Corsican ! if you were not such a little bit of a fellow in spite of your large cocked hat, I'd crack your skull in an instant with my fist."
Another bears these short and pointed lines :
" May England's oak
which, though shaky in rhyme, are certainly more effective than the illiterate, profane, and overlong inscriptions on other Bonaparte mugs.
A well-engraved and well-designed Liverpool print is that of " The Farmers' Arms," with armorial design ingeniously formed of hay-rakes, scythes, flails, ploughs, churns, sickles, etc., the mottoes being " In God we Trust," and " Industry produceth Wealth." On the other side are these verses :
" May the mighty and great
One of these really artistic Farmer pitchers with this inscription and design sold at an auction in New York for only seven dollars and a half, in spite of the catalogue's alluring description of its "having once belonged to Robert Burns." A similar one, numbered S 32, is in the Museum of Practical Geology in London,' and is also described in Mayer's " Art of Pottery and History of its Progress in Liverpool."
Besides the design of the " Farmers' Arms " is found that of the " Blacksmiths' Arms," with the motto " By Hammer and Hand all Arts do Stand ;" the " Bucks' Arms," with stag and huntsmen, and the motto " Freedom with Innocence ; " the " Bakers' Arms," and the motto, " Praise God for All ; " the " Hatters' Arms," with the motto, " We Assist Each Other in Time of Need."
Many of these Liverpool pitchers have an individual interest connected with their original manufacture. They were the favorite expression of respect of ships crews to their commanders, of workmen to their employers. Such is the beautiful pitcher owned by A. M. Prentiss, Esq., bearing the motto, " Success to Henry Prentiss and his Employ, 1789." Henry Prentiss was a Revolutionary hero, a member of the Tea Party, a wealthy Boston merchant, a large cotton manufacturer, a successful horticulturist, a man whose name brings to old residents of Boston and Cambridge the memory of many a story of his shrewdness and intelligence.
S. Yendell, great-grandfather of the present Governor of Massachusetts, was similarly honored by a mammoth presentation pitcher, which is owned by Mrs. Russel, of Cambridge. It bears a print of the Columbia, on which ship Mr. Yendell sailed on the famous voyage when the Columbia River was discovered, in 1791. That does not seem very long ago ! Mr. Yendell lived till 1867. To be sure, he was then the oldest man in Boston, ninety-seven years of age.
The art of transfer-printing on pottery and porcelain, by which all these pieces are decorated, has completely revolutionized the business of china-decoration in England, and cheapened the price of decorated crockery, as did the invention of types and printing cheapen and multiply books. John Sadler, who invented the process of transfer-printing, was originally an engraver. He had his attention first called to the possibility and desirability of china-printing by a very trifling incident —by seeing some children when playing "doll's house" paste on broken pieces of crockery, pictures cut from waste-paper prints which he had thrown away.
For years he and his partner, Guy Green, managed to keep his invention enough of a secret, so that he printed not only for Liverpool works, but for many others. Much of the Wedgwood Queens-ware was stamped by him, being made at the Wedgwood factory, carried in wagons over bad roads to Liverpool, and, after being printed, returned in the same manner to Burslem to be fired. In spite of all this manipulation and transportation it could be sold cheaply, for Sadler's tariff of prices for transfer-printing was very low. " For printing a table and tea service of two hundred and fifty pieces for David Garrick, L8 6s. 1 1/2 d. Twenty-five dozen half-tiles printing and colouring, LI 5s.." These printed half-tiles were sold for 2s. 6d. a dozen, while the black printed whole tiles brought only 5s, a dozen.
Sadler's process was very simple. He printed on paper with an ordinary copper or steel plate, then laid the print while wet on the glazed piece of pottery. Then, upon pressing it, the ink was transferred to the pottery piece, and afterward burnt in. Nearly all these wares were printed in black, but some have the prints in blue, and some in vermilion. Others, printed in black outlines, are filled in by hand with various colors, sometimes with very good effect.
Hancock and Holdship followed quickly in Sadler's wake, in printing on pottery and porcelain in Worcester, and there bat-printing was introduced at a later date.
In this process linseed-oil was used instead of ink, and the oil design was printed on a " bat," or sheet of pre-pared glue and treacle, which, being pliable, adapted itself readily to the shape of the pottery article to be printed, and transferred to it the oil lines of the design. Powdered color was dusted on these oil lines, the superfluous color being removed by cotton wool, and then fired in. Engravings for bat-printing were usually in stipple work, and the prints can readily be recognized and distinguished from those of transfer-printing.
It is interesting to us- to know that an American who seemed to have a hand in every invention of his day, had also his little share in the suggestion, if not in the discovery, of printing upon pottery and porcelain. Benjamin Franklin wrote thus from London, November 3, 1773, to some unknown person :
" I was much pleased with the specimens you so kindly sent me of your new art of engraving. That on the china is admirable. No one would suppose it any-thing but painting. I hope you meet with all the encouragement you merit, and that the invention will be what inventions seldom are, profitable to the inventor. Now, we are speaking of inventions, I know not who pretends to that of copper-plate engraving for earthen ware, and I am not disposed to contest the honor with any-body, as the improvement in taking impressions not directly from the plate, but from printed paper, applicable by that means to other than flat forms, is far beyond my first idea. But I have reason to apprehend that I might have given the hint on which that improvement was made ; for, more than twenty years since, I wrote to Dr. Mitchell from America proposing to him the printing of square tiles for ornamenting chimneys, from copper-plates, describing the manner in which I thought it might be done, and advising the borrowing .from the booksellers the plates that had been used in a thin folio called ' Moral Virtue Delineated,' for that purpose. The Dutch Delft-ware tiles were much used in America, which are only or, chiefly Scripture histories wretchedly scrawled. I wished to have those moral prints, which were originally taken from Horace's poetical figures, introduced in tiles, which, being about our chimneys are constantly in the eyes of the children when by the fireside, might give parents an opportunity in explaining them to express moral sentiments, and I gave expectations of great demands for them if executed. Dr. Mitch ell wrote me in answer that he had communicated my scheme to several of the artists in the earthen way about London, who rejected it as impracticable ; and it was not till some years after that I first saw an enamelled snuff-box, which I was sure was from a copper-plate, though the curvature of the form made me wonder how the impression was taken."
Sadly and deprecatingly, must " Poor Richard " have examined the printed tiles of John Sadler, for no "moral. virtues delineated " thereon are depicted. He found, instead, the representation of such trivial and unmoral pastimes as dancing, beer-drinking, pipe-smoking, fortune-telling—the latter design being of an astrologer seated at a table telling the fortunes of two young wornen. One fair maid smiles with delighted anticipation as she receives a paper of prophecy inscribed " A brisk husband and son," while the other poor creature is departing, shedding bitter tears of disappointment, with a similar paper bearing the depressing words, " Never to be married." American children doubtless lost much desirable'and laudable parental instruction when Franklin's worthy scheme failed in execution, but they were also spared many a fireside lecture and nagging. Flow they would have come to hate the sight of those moral lesson tiles !
And while I am speaking of transfer-printing, let me call attention to some pretty little ceramic relics of a quaint old-time fashion, that are sometimes overlooked by collectors—" mirror-knobs "—" Lookeing Glasse Nobs" I find them called in ante-Revolutionary advertisements. These knobs consisted usually of a painted or printed Medallion, frequently enamelled on the metal, or on little oval porcelain placques or discs, which were then' fastened in brass, gilt or silvered frames, and mounted on a long and strong screw or spike. Two of these knobs were screwed into the wall about a foot apart, so that the oval-framed medallions stood out two or three inches from the wall. The lower edge of a mirror or picture frame was allowed to rest on the iron screws behind these two ornamental heads. These mirror-knobs were also used to fasten back window curtains. The head of the mirror-knob was usually decorated by the process of transfer-printing ; sentimental views of shepherds and shepherdesses, mincing heads of powdered French dames, and unintentionally funny likenesses of many of our Revolutionary heroes and statesmen. The portrait of Washington which was employed was fairly good; of Franklin in the fur-cap, quite well drawn; but the others that I have seen vied with one another in comical ugliness, save that of John Jay, always too fine in feature to be caricatured. In the Huntington collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, may be seen a few of these mirror-knobs with portraits of Franklin, John Jay, C. Thompson, W. H. Drayton, John Dickinson, S. Huntington, Major-General Gaines, and an exceptionally ugly one of H. Laurens, with a phenomenally attenuated neck, a mere bone of a neck. Often these little printed miniatures are in black and white, but more frequently they are printed in outline, and faintly and delicately colored. I wish I knew where they were made, and who ordered them and imported and sold them, and who drew them. I think that they were made in Worcester, not in Liverpool. Aged country people tantalizingly tell me of mirror-knobs made of discs with white raised heads and figures on blue grounds--Wedgwood medallions, were they not ? But they have all vanished from my ken, even the printed knobs are now seldom seen. I know one drawer of an old dressing-case in quiet Hadley town that holds fifteen beautiful mirror-knobs, all whole, uncracked, unscratched ; but you will never see them nor buy them. You might steal them, perhaps, if you only knew which elm-shaded house contained them—you might steal the whole dressing-case, indeed, if you were only quiet about it, and you might walk the entire mile and a half of the beautiful main street with the stolen furniture on your back and meet not a soul to question or wonder.
Of the same class and decoration and of the same materials were many dainty snuff-boxes and patch-boxes that were made and used in England and imported to America. The latter pretty trinkets were tiny oval or round boxes about an inch and a half or two inches in diameter, frequently made of fine Battersea enamel, or of china medallions set in silver or gilt frames. Within the lid was always found a little mirror, usually of polished steel, in which the fair owner might peep to freshly set or rearrange her coquettish patches. One patch-box I have bears this motto on the top :
Have Communion with few,
Another has a more frivolous verse :
"Within this Beauty views her face
" Love and Beauty conquer all,
Sometimes, as with the mirror-knobs, a little painting of shepherds and shepherdesses is set in the lid, and, with the jewelled and enamelled border, form a trifle dainty enough to rival any modern bonbonnieres. These patch-boxes and " Gum Patches," or " Patches for ladies," or Face Patches," were advertised freely in American newspapers for many years previous to the Revolution—as early, surely, as 1750 in the Boston Evening Post; and patches were universally worn by American beauties, as Whitefield and other pious travellers sadly deplored. "China Snuff Boxes" were offered for sale in the Boston Evening Post of April 16, 1773, were bought and filled with Kippen's snuff, were lost on Boston streets, were advertised for reward in Boston papers, and no doubt proudly and ostentatiously carried by Boston beaux, as well as by Charleston macaronis. A few snuff-boxes of Battersea enamel still remain to show us how lovely they were, but the frail china ones have nearly all been destroyed, and when still existing are usually sadly cracked and disfigured. China and Batter-sea enamel "tooth-pick cases" were also imported and carried by Boston beaux.
But we must leave these dainty quaint trinkets and go back to the far less beautiful Liverpool pitchers. Though they have no great charm of color, shape, or design, and are, in fact, the least graceful and beautiful of all the old English wares commonly found in America, all the historical pitchers must certainly be of great interest to students of American history, as records and relics of the early days of the United States. As new pieces bearing hitherto unknown designs are constantly being found, they will form, in fact do now form, with the old blue Staffordshire plates, a valuable and lasting ceramic record of the early days of our nation.
Let us hope that they will be carefully preserved by all who are fortunate enough to own them ; and, if they are not placed in the safe keeping of museums or cabinet collections, at least be kept from the debasing uses and positions in which I have seen them in country homes. My patriotic heart has thrilled with wounded indignation to see mugs and pitchers bearing such honored and venerated names and faces, battered, nicked, and handle-less, despitefully used to hold herb-teas, soft-soap, horse-liniment, or tooth-brushes. I saw one Washington pitcher, noseless and fairly crenated with nicks, shame-fully degraded to use as a jug to carry to the hen-house the hot water with which to prepare the chicken-food ; while another contained a villainous-looking purple-black liquid compound which the owner explained was " Pa's hair-restorer." In spite of careless use, however, - many specimens still exist, for "antique " dealers find them for their shops. In one Newport bric-a-brac shop I saw, in the summer of 1891, at least fifteen Liverpool pitchers varying in price from five dollars for a small Sailor pitcher to thirty-five dollars for a fine perfect Apotheosis Pitcher.
Fortunate is the household, and happy and proud should be its members, that possesses one of these historic relics. I know of no better way to impress upon a child, or to recall to a grown person, the lesson of bravery, 'courage, and love of country, than by showing him the likenesses of Perry, Decatur, and Lawrence on mug or pitcher, and telling to him their story, and reading or reciting the old ballads and songs written about them.
Nor do I know of any more noble example of Christian piety than that of the brave Macdonough, whose name is so often seen on these pieces of old English ware. Before the battle of Lake Champlain, when the deck of the Saratoga was cleared for action, he knelt upon the deck with his officers and men around him, asked Al-mighty God for aid, and committed the issue of the contest into His hands. Let us echo the toast which was given to him at a large dinner in Plattsburg, shortly after his victory. " The pious and brave Macdonough, the professor of the religion of the Redeemer—preparing for action, he called on God, who forsook him not in the hour of danger. May he not be forgotten by his country."
Let our respect and affection for our ancestors' adored heroes save to our descendants the Liverpool pitchers bearing such honored historical names.
( Originally Published Early 1900's )