Thursday, August 15, 2013

Grumpy Cats and Children

Cats have always gotten a bad rap. Grumpy cat is no exception. In fact the original grumpy cat dates back to the late 19th century when these sourpusses were portrayed on Staffordshire transferware dishes. These scarce pottery dishes with their hand-lettered alphabet borders were commonly presented as gifts and rewards of merit to good little children. 

Transferware takes its name from the printing process first developed in England in the later 18th century. A dampened tissue paper is placed on an engraved and inked copper plate, and then run through a press to reveal the design. The printed paper is then carefully peeled away from the copper plate, and the freshly inked design is transferred onto a piece of pottery. Once this pottery is glazed and fired, it becomes a permanent design. Multiples of any design could easily be made by this method, making it far more affordable than much of the hand-painted pottery of the day.

Some of the transferware pottery for children often had an impression of an alphabet around the rim, as in this rare child's tea party plate which also includes a signing alphabet for the deaf, and two grumpy little children. Just a cautionary tale kids; be good, clean your plate, and learn your ABCs, or you'll be living with the grumpy cats! 

::All alphabet transferware dishes featured here are sourced from the Childhood Antiques Rubylane shop, where you can find more of this nature.

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