English potter Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) developed durable tableware that graced the tables of Queen Charlotte of Britain and Empress Catherine II of Russia. Transferware, a process started in the 18th century and later refined by potter Josiah Spode and used by the Wedgwood company, involved transferring images or patterns from an engraved copper plate to specially sized paper to the pottery surface. This economical tableware appealed to the emerging middle class. Wedgwood patterns of the 1880s indicated an interest in flora and fauna that appealed to romantic and eccentric tastes.
The Asiatic Pheasants pattern, a blue and white dinner pattern of the 1880s, was among the top two popular and enduring patterns of Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901). This romantic transfer print pattern on earthenware originated in the early 1800s when the Chinese-style of patterns in Western art, Chinoiserie, was popular. Perhaps a floral design of the Far East inspired this pattern. This subdued, pale blue pattern featured pheasants, butterflies and moths against a white background. This romantic design gave a sense of cleanness and light airiness. Still produced in Staffordshire, the Asiatic Pheasants adorn dinner plates, vegetable dishes and meat platters.
The Beatrice pattern was a dark brown transfer pattern first produced in 1880. Brown plate borders feature motifs of cherry blossoms with five distinct petals on branches. Ribbons or strips showing patterns of geometric shapes seem to hover around the centre of the plate. This pattern appears on transferware platters or tureens.
The enamelled Columbia Edge pattern featured a motif of mythical beasts that faced each other with a trophy between them. According to the Wedgwood Museum, the plate edge included a dark green border with a scalloped edge line. Around the rim, the beasts motif alternated with a floral motif with reddish-purple flowers and greenery. At the centre of the dinner plate, the beasts and floral motifs also appeared encircled against a white background.
Green and Gold Columbia, a variation of the Columbia Edge, included a pale sage green band around the rim. The scalloped edge line, the mythical beasts, trophy and floral motifs were all in gold.
The Powder Ruby Columbia pattern, like the Columbia Edge, included a border of beasts, stylised leaves and a pointed scalloped edge line. The motifs in gold contrasted with the ruby red colour in the border background and centre. The Powder Blue Columbia pattern included similar gold motifs of the Power Ruby pattern, but featured a blue border and centre.
Prunus and Oriental Fan
Gold and bronze highlight the Prunus and Oriental Fan pattern that indicates the revival of Japanese-inspired design in Western art, Japonaiserie. Sections of a tree branch with a series of gold fan motifs decorate bone china.
Lobster Salad Bowl
Wedgwood's novelty tableware of the 1880s played up Victorian interest in quirky items. One such item was an 1880 salad bowl supported on the back of a red lobster that was perched on a gold-rimmed base embellished with floral motifs. The bowl's tactile surface featured ridges and slightly wavy indentations resembling a large seashell.