Thursday, February 17, 2011
I'm not making this up. The term pot lid comes from the decorated lid of porcelain containers often used as packaging for food, cold creams, toothpaste and other apothecary supplies. They were used as advertising as early as the mid 18th C, but most common from mid to late 19th C. The ceramic container increased the product's shelf life, and they came in many shapes and sizes and colors. Most were printed single color as these were less costly to produce. They are printed using transfers, just like transferware dishes. According to collector, Bruce Pynn who writes for Food & Beverage magazine, The method of printing on a pot lid was a multi-staged, time-consuming process. The transfer was lifted on tissue-thin paper from an engraved copper plate that previously had been inked and coloured. It was then transferred to the lid after the first baking and rubbed until the print firmly adhered to the pottery. The paper was then carefully removed, usually by washing or floating it off in water and the lid was glazed and fired to fix the design as an integral part of the pottery.
The designers of these ceramic containers were skilled artisans who worked for popular potters such as Staffordshire in England. Their hand-illustrated decorative typography and ornamentation reflected the same popular Victorian styles seen in books, packaging labels and songsheet title pages at the time. You can see many samples of pot lids at The Antique Pot Lid Gallery and learn more about their history here.