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Staffordshire

I am using this term in a very general and admittedly inappropriate way (although I’m not alone in doing so) to refer to my small collection of British earthenware (and two porcelain) cow creamers dating from the 18th and 19th centuries (with a few early 20c).  Very recent ones with similar shapes and styles are for the most part covered either under the manufacturer (e.g., Kent, which has adopted some of the older molds from creamers shown here), or under ‘Places’, or just lumped in with all the other modern creamers.

The main English centre for producing pottery cow creamers, starting around 1740 with saltglazed stoneware, was Stoke-on-Trent and vicinity (which is in Staffordshire, thus the general term; Stoke-on-Trent is made up of six distinct towns: Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton - collectively known as "THE POTTERIES".  See their web site, www.thepotteries.org, for lots of good basic information on the area, the potteries, potters, etc.).  However when they became popular, inspired at least a bit by Schuppe’s silver ones, other pottery centers – notably in Tyneside, Yorkshire, South Wales and South Scotland -- also began producing them, in part because Staffordshire potters moved to these areas to establish or run factories. 

My collection pales in comparison to the fabulous Keiller Collection in the Stoke-on-Trent Museum & Art Gallery, but I do have a number that I’m quite fond of.  One problem with these creamers – as indeed with any ‘figures’ of the period, be they of prople or animals - is that not many of them have a well established provenance; such is the case even with the Keiller collection – I believe that only three of the 667  in that collection have the maker’s name impressed.  As opposed to silver creamers, where hallmarks and assays are the norm (and generally required by law as well as by the guilds), most of the early pottery creamers don’t have marks or any sort, and since they were basically common household items, the maker was of little importance to the buyer.  I will give as much information as I have, but in general I have found that the sellers – even ‘Staffordshire’ experts – don’t have precise information.  I would welcome any and all help in improving my attributions.  One other note is that most of these creamers have restorations of some sort, although in most cases they have been carefully done by professionals and are hard to discern.  The need for restoration isn’t surprising, since the horns, tails and ears are quite fragile (except for when the horns were cleverly smushed down onto the cow’s head or body), and these were made for daily use more than for display.

Cow creamers were, of course, only a very small component of the wares produced in Staffordshire, which had been noted for its potteries for hundreds of years. Most pieces, naturally, were simply utilitarian – bowls, pots, plates, etc.  Starting in the 1700s, in keeping with the overall trends of industrialization in Britain, the potteries became more mechanized and organized, and so they remain today although there have been an almost infinite number of changes in process as well as ownership and organization of the firms.   There are a number of good sources for the potteries history, but for a short version I’d suggest   http://www.historynet.com/potteries-of-staffordshire.htm .  At around the middle of the 18th century, in response to a growing demand for both quality and decoration, the potters began to complement their functional items with figures of people and animals. Not unnaturally some of these more fanciful items also were designed to serve useful purposes such as holding spills, and – after they became popular – serving milk and cream.   For a brief introduction to the art of the very popular (and still very highly sought by collectors) Staffordshire figure, try http://www.adelekenny.com/-staffordshire-figures.html. For those who want a more in-depth treatment, I can heartily recommend Pat Halfpenny’s excellent book, "English Earthenware Figures, 1740-1840", published by the Antique Collector’s Club and available through a number of used book sellers both in the UK and the US.

As a side note, as well as a reminder to myself next time I go trolling for cows through the English countryside, there’s a web site that provides frequently updated information on traffic on motorways and common A/B roads:  www.frixo.com

One final note – I use blue-tack (more specifically, Duck poster putty) to hold the lids on.  I first encountered it in London in 1995, where it was used to hold up the pictures of call-girls in the phone booths. It seems to hold quite well for several years without hardening or leaving a mark, which is presumably what endeared it to the pimps and made the practice tolerable to the police and phone company (albeit in more recent trips the practice seems, sadly, to have faded).  It shows in many of the pictures.  If anyone has any better suggestions, I’d appreciate it.

This is my favorite – a very lovely model of a cow and calf with boscage or bocage…a term for leafy decoration on pottery of this era; I have seen this style referred to as “Walton School”,after John Walton. I bought this creamer from the London store of Oliver-Sutton antiques in Kensington, who attributed it to Tittensor, circa 1780. Tittensor is both a family name, and the name of a village in Stafford, between Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stone. Although information is sparse, it’s most likely that this creamer can be attributed to Charles Tittensor, who was a small scale potter who specialized in bocage and other earthenware figures, working in Shelton in the early 19c, and who had a number of different partners over the years. The date I was given by Oliver-Sutton is almost certainly incorrect both because (as noted by Pat Halfpenny) Charles Tittensor was not recorded as a potter until after the turn of the century, and because bocage was not introduced until around 1810-1815. Given the uncertainties, I’d simply say that this lovely underglaze painted piece is from the first quarter of the 19c.

Here is another favorite, a pink splash luster creamer in perfect condition that I acquired in early 2013 from John Howard of Woodstock, an Antique English Pottery Specialist, just as he was shipping it to New York for a ceramics show.   Unlike the Tittensor one above, however, the maker is unknown – John could only tell me that he acquired it in Burton on Trent, and that it was manufactured in Staffordshire around 1820.  He did note however that this is a very rare example, and in his four decades in the business it is one of the few that he has seen with no restorations or damage.  At the time it was made, luster ware was at or near the top of the market for earthenware figures, so I can only imagine that the original owner either bought it more for decoration than utility (like the Tittensor piece that would be too unwieldy for daily use), or at least used it on only special occasions. Certainly most of my others have not fared nearly so well as this beautiful cow.

The cow on the right, purchased from Oliver-Sutton at the same time as I acquired the Tittensor, was identified by them as a Whieldon, circa 1780, and bears an old inventory #509 from the C.B.Kidd collection.  Thomas Whieldon (1719-95)  of Fenton Low, Stoke-on-Trent, was a Master Potter who – according to the Famous Potters page from that town (www.thepotteries.org/potters) taught both Josiah Spode and Ralph Wood, and from 1754-1759 was in partnership with Josiah Wedgewood.  Its companion on the left bears the mark “Leeds” in script, dates from @1800, and was #883 in the same Kidd collection.  I can’t find anything about that collection or its owner; presumably at some point it was broken up by auction. Both of these have ‘mushroom’ handles on their lids, and the lid on the Whieldon, like some other early ones, has simply been cut out of the back of the cow rather than being a separately fashioned plug.

This finely potted  creamer with milkmaid was ascribed by the knowledgeable seller, Andrew Crowley of Liverpool,  to Thomas Whieldon, circa 1760, and acquired by him from the  “wife of a construction baron (recently deceased) from her Georgian townhouse in the Chelsea area of central London. The pottery pieces were mostly Whieldon and yorkshire Creamwares, with the collection there was an inventory book, which indicated that this creamer was purchased in 1972 from an antique shop on the nearby Kensington church street.”…which just happens to be the location of Oliver-Sutton’s shop.   His description notes “the cream coloured earthenware body covered in coloured glazes derived from manganese, copper, cobalt, iron and antimony.  The colours were sponged onto the body and then covered with a clear lead glaze, the subsequent firing caused an intermingling of the colours, this type of ware is also called Tortoiseshell ware.”   This jibes well with what I have recently read about Whieldon in Pat Halfpenny’s excellent book, "English Earthenware Figures, 1740-1840".  This early creamer does have a bit of damage – a chip to its lid and one to the left ear showing the creamware of the figure, and some nicely done restoration to horn tips and the milkmaid’s right arm.  Overall it’s a lovely early example.

It’s appropriate here to say a bit more about Thomas Whieldon, who is probably the most well-known Staffordshire potter of the mid 18c, and about the early evolution of Staffordshire figures such as my cows…most of this being extracted from Pat Halfpenny’s book referenced above, and an article on Pearlware by Terrence Lockett found on the potteries web site.   Whieldon was baptized in Stoke-upon-Trent in 1719, and was an established potter at least by the mid 1740s – in works that he first rented and then purchased in Little Fenton.  By 1750 he also had acquired pot works in Fenton Low – some half mile away – which he rented to others. Whieldon remained in business until around 1780, at which time he razed his factory and converted the land into ‘pleasure grounds’ around the home of himself and his (by then) third wife.  Whieldon, like most of the other 150 or so Staffordshire potters of the period, produced tableware as well as the figures.  He made saltglazed stonewares as well as the tortoiseshell and enameled creamware.  The term creamware, for which he seems to be best known, denotes cream colored eartenware.  The figures like my cows were fashioned with a combination of hand and press moulding, dried and then assembled using slip, then biscuit fired.  The piece was colored with metal oxides – manganese brown, copper green, iron yellow or cobalt blue – then covered with a liquid lead glazing and ‘glost’ fired. This process allowed only a limited range of colors due to the high  temperature required to fire the glaze.  Equally important for the increasingly sophisticated buyers of the latter part of the 18c, it produced a product was not as ‘white’ as fashionable Oriental porcelains.  To respond to this market, Staffordshire potters in the 1770s developed what they referred to as ‘China Glaze’ – basically simply substituting cobalt oxide for iron oxide in the glaze, which produces a whiter ware with a light bluish tint.  Josiah Wedgewood independently came up with a similar process – adding whiter clay and employing cobalt in the glaze to give it a bluish cast.  Wedgewood termed his ware ‘Pearl White’, and today the term for the two similar products is‘pearlware’.  Whieldon, incidentally, was out of the game by this time.  Although the typical approach for English-made ‘white’ tableware with an oriental touch was to paint underglaze in blue and then apply the china whire or pearl white glaze, early ‘pearlware’ figures took advantage of the new approach by tinting the glaze with other metal oxides – copper for green, iron for yellow, manganese for brown or purple, and more cobalt for darkler blue - and then individualy handpainting them on the figure.  Pat Halfpenny distinguishes these figures of the last quarter of the 18c as ‘coloured glazed’.  The next evolution involved painting or sponging with the same metal-oxide based colors on the biscuit-fired white clay figure, then dipping it in liquid pearlware glaze and firing to seal the colors, more or less as was done with creamware.  Relief-moulded pieces including figures (and cows) that used this technique from around 1780-1840 are referred to by Pat Halfpenny as underglaze painted, although they are also known as  Prattware.   Other under-glaze techniques include ‘spatterware’  and ‘spongeware’, as well as transfer printed wares to include the ‘Willlow’-type patterns in imitation of fashionable Chinese ware (after ~1820 clear glazes began to replace the pearlware glazes on these).  A yet further late 18c embellishment involved on-glaze decorating a pearlware glazed piece. Tese were termed ‘enameled’ by the potters.  This process allowed for a greater range of colors, but was more expensive because it required at least three firings – biscuit, glaze or glost, and then one or more to ‘burn’ the colors (and maybe even more for effects such as lustre or gilding, and even over-glaze printing, used especially for commemorative jugs and mugs).  A good many of my colorful early 19c and later creamers are of this ‘enameled’ or enamel painted type.

This selection of three creamers is a good place to say a bit more about styles of early English creamers (and other figures).  All three here are multi-colored underglazed pottery – the one in the middle, like the one with green coloring above, has an incised lid, and came from the Kidd collection via Oliver-Sutton shop which called it ‘Whieldon-type’.  From its coloration it could be termed Creamware.  I believe it’s quite early, say mid 1780s, from before folks started making round holes in the top and fashioning separate plugs.  The two surrounding it are whiter in color, thus pearlware (see feature articles at www.thepotteries.org for some good information if you can’t find a copy of Pat Halfpenny’s book); presumably  the clay in the body is whiter (no breaks on these so can’t be sure), and the glaze is tinted with cobalt-oxide.  They are also 18c, sold to me (at London antique fairs) as being from around 1790. All three could be termed ‘Pratt Ware’ or ‘Prattware’, which as noted above became the generic term for underglaze colored cream and pearlware that was made rather widely in the UK from about 1785 to 1840.  The best information source on these that I have found is “Pratt Ware – English and Scottish relief decorated and underglazed colored earthenware 1780-1840” by John and Griselda Lewis. From there we learn that there was a Pratt family of potters “who were working at Lane Delph in the late eighteenth century and also at Felton after 1807”.   The term Pratt Ware however wasn’t used until the early 20c, and when a couple of rival authors coined it, based on a very few multicolored underglazed jugs with relief decorations that bore the Pratt name and were in the prototypical style.  So the Pratts have been memorialized rather by happenstance, with their name applied to wares made by hundreds of potteries over a span of decades.  The Lewis’s book has hundreds of pictures as well as fascinating articles about the Pratts, how the wares were made and colored, and the many locations where this style of decoration was employed until it was surpassed by overglaze enamel colored wares and other techniques that became popular in the early to mid 19c.

This spatter-painted brown Prattware creamer is very similar to the blue one on the right above.  The eBay seller called it softpaste Pearlware, early 19c, and said it came from an Indiana estate where the owner had been collecting from the 50s through the 80s.  Bet he paid less than I did, albeit the eBay price was a bargain compared to what these go for in London shops these days.

Here is yet another example, this one missing its lid but otherwise in fine condition.

In general, I’ve found that many of the earlier creamers have flat-plate bases like these two. The raised oval and rectangular ones seem to come later.  Both of these are (presumably) Prattware, dating from the 1790s.  The milkmaid and milkman are working hard although she seems to have taken her eyes off the job at hand.

The one on the left here is the same as the one with the milkman above…repeated with a couple from the same mold to show that these were indeed sort of ‘mass produced’ in a sense even if handpainted and thus each slightly different.

Three more creamers with flat bases – the sellers said from @1820 for the two on the sides, and 1800 for the one in the middle.  The one on the left, “Ol’ Ug” I’ve dubbed her, is particularly crude compared to many of the others.  The one on the right is Prattware, and has quite an unusual shape to the face.

This beautiful cow with calf on a flat green base with canted corners dates from ~1810, and is most likely Scottish (the seller stated that the red sponged pearlware is typical of Scotland) of from the north country. It has had some well done professional restoration to the horns and is missing its little lid, but I find it lovely nonetheless.

This ‘Prattware’ creamer – with a restored tail and lid and broken horns, probably made around 1790 – was said by the seller (who has kept a very similar one) to have been bought by the wife of a Hollywood magnate from Gloria Antika of Brompton Road in the 1940s, presumably shortly after the end of WWII. 

More Prattware, here a pair with the milkmaids – arms at their sides and without any facial characteristics – on opposite sides.  Here the curled horns and small ears have avoided damage, and I’d guess that a fine ornamental pair like this didn’t see much hard or regular use.

Here are three more interpretations of cows being milked. The sellers indicated that the one on the left was probably from Yorkshire, 1780-1800.  The middle one is from around the same date, but looks to be Prattware; and the one on the right was described as Pearlware from @1830 (pearlware seems to be a somewhat ambiguous and general term relating to coloring and glaze, see the reference above).  These three have interesting different representations of milkmaids; some potters seem not to bother with arms, others like to include facial features.

Here’s another pair, Victorian creamers with milkmaids (arms, no hands!) from @1850.  They’re quite large and heavy, and have the protective smushing of protuberances (surely there must be a technical term for this…).

This is a lovely example of a similar form – said to date from the 2nd quarter of the 19c – with a Rockingham glaze of the ‘flint enamel’ type – characterized by the touches of bright color fused in the glaze - on yellowware. There’s a bit about this type of glaze in the Bennington section because it was very popular on American pottery (and the American versions are reputed to be superior to the British ones). A bit of additional information is that this mottled brown glaze has its origins at the Swinton factory on the Marques of Rockingham’s estate near Rotherham, South Yorkshire. The Wikipedia article on Rockingham pottery notes that “After the closure of the works in 1842, some of the craftsmen remained on site to continue manufacturing on their own. The most successful of these was the Baguley family, the most senior of whom Isaac Baguley had been the manager of the gilding department at the factory. Baguley decorated porcelain that was bought in as unglazed biscuitware from other potteries. The classic brown Rockingham glaze was used, the rights to which Baguley had acquired after the closure of the pottery, with much use of gilding and occasional enamelling. Baguley eventually moved to nearby Mexborough and the family continued decorating bought-in porcelain there until the end of the 19th century.”

This creamer is virtually identical to the one above (except that it’s missing its lid), but with a lovely and darker ‘treacle’ glaze.  I’ve included a shot of her head to depict how by this time the potteries (or at least some of them, for some creamers) had learned to make the ears and horns flat against the head to prevent breakage

Here’s another nice Rockingham glazed version from ~1840, with a bit of a different shape but still the curled horns against the head.

This one is somewhat less lovely, but another good example of mid-19c Staffordshire, presumably in this case a rather inexpensive one at the time. It has some black ‘cold paint’ – i.e. not glazed – that may have been a touch-up after manufacture. It also has a older restored tail and an old replacement lid, not unusual for one of this period.

Here are two cute 19c Staffordshire cows on thick oval bases – almost surely Victorian. I couldn’t resist the purple and orange noses, in spite of minor damage to each of them.

Here is a third – sold as ‘Swansea style’ which I believe is probably correct and would indicate that the two above are also Welsh. Except for the repair to the lid, she’s in excellent condition.

These seven creamers are Welsh, from the potteries in Swansea. The museum’s website at www.swanseaheritage.net  provides some interesting information.  It indicates that cow creamers were produced at both the Cambrian Pottery and the Glamorgan Pottery, and that the Cambrian ones “can be distinguished by the ‘brisket’ or breastbone of the animal.  The Glamorgan moulds have a more slender appearance and a squarer head, where as the brisket on the Cambrian version is very pronounced and protrudes downward”.  Using this as a guide I’d guess that the matched pair from @1820 are definitely Cambrian (and they were sold as such!), as are the two outer ones in the picture on the right (both early 19c), and the others are most likely Glamorgan. The middle in the right hand picture one with the circular marks, and the one without a base in the middle picture date from @1840-50, and the flat-faced one with the red base from @1800-1810.   Anyone Welsh pottery fancier care to correct me, please??

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This is a lovely example of a Swansea creamer from the Glamorgan pottery with a black-transfer print of a rural scene(see the discussion below, in the section with blue-willow transfer print creamers). From the web site of the Abersystwyth University Ceramic Collection & Archives we learn that “The Glamorgan Pottery was established in about 1813. Its history demonstrates how closely the pottery industries of South Wales were linked. George Haynes, who had worked with Lewis Weston Dillwyn at the adjacent Cambrian Pottery, was active at the pottery and many of the shapes and patterns are very similar to those of the Cambrian. The wares are largely for domestic use and are marked "B B & I", the initials of the owners, Baker, Bevan and Irwin. As the other business interests of the owners failed, the pottery business was offered for sale. It was purchased in 1837 by Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn who was running the Cambrian Pottery and was son of Lewis Weston Dillwyn. In 1838 L.L. Dillwyn closed the Glamorgan Pottery. Copper plates for transfers and other equipment were purchased by William Chambers who established the South Wales Pottery at Llanelly in 1840. Many of the workers transferred to the new pottery.” You can learn even more about “The Glamorgan Pottery, Swansea, 1814-38” from the 1995 book of that name by Helen Hallesy. From the Swansea section of the Catalog of the collection of English Pottery in the Department of British and Medieval Antiquities of the British Museum we further learn that George Haynes was the one who coined the term “Opaque China” for the fine white earthenware from the Swansea potteries, and that much of its reputation is due to the paintings of W.W.Young who illustrated L.W.Dillwyn’s Natural History and painted on some Swansea earthenware; as I understand it the engraver Rothwell then used some of his scenes for transfer-printing, and I believe that’s what’s on this creamer. Also of note is that there is a creamer like this one in the China Gallery of the Swansea Museum.

Here is another example of a transfer-print Welsh cow creamer, dating most likely from around 1825-1835.  The flower motif print is on the forehead and tail as well as both sides and the base.

The Welsh are not unnaturally proud of their potteries, and also of the delightful cow creamers they fashioned.  Here is a lovely modern reproduction, stamped “Swansea Cow Creamer, No. 106 of 200, replica by Gladstone Museum for Express Foods, Nov. 1987”.  I wish the folks up in Stoke-on-Trent would do the same thing!

This cow and calf is a fairly recent addition to my collection, and is said to be “probably from a Prattware factory in NE England, @1830”.  Here the tail, lower lip and lid have been restored; the ‘smushed’ horns and ears survived intact.

Here are three versions of old English ceramic that are really quite different in style and make-up from those above, and must have been designed to be more utilitarian than beautiful.  They were probably also quite inexpensive when first sold (unfortunately not now).  The two that are similar both have some damage to the horns – I have yet to find one that hasn’t suffered in some way or another.  I have no further information about them except that the one with the white base and bark brown spots was said by the seller to date from the 1830s.  I would guess that they’re all pre-(or very early) Victorian, since items from that era tended to be significantly fancier.

This is a fine example of a treacle or Rockingham glazed creamer, as is described in some detail in the Bennington section.  The mold is typical of that used for many of the Jackfield creamers.  Other than this one and a similar one with gold on the horns that is in the Jackfield section, I haven't found any of this form that aren't black.

Here is another pair with the caramel or Rockingham glaze, this time with gold
gilding,  and a somewhat similar but much trimmer shape.

I acquired this pair in an antique shop on the old walls of Chester.  They again seem to be made of reddish earthenware, with a caramel glaze that reminds me a bit of American Rockingham (see the Bennington category).  These have large teats and, what I find most unusual, small rectangular mouths.  The seller indicated that they were mid-1800s but per usual had no further information. As always, I’d welcome help.

I’ve seen quite a number of these, and they’re often referred to as having a ‘Majolica’ glaze.  The horns and ears are gilded, again as is common with the Jackfields.  Like many others, it was simply dated by the seller to the 19c.  This may have more to do with US import tax rules than anything else…

Here’s a caramel colored one quite similar in shape and style.  It’s had a fair amount of restoration, horns, ears, and lid. 

This white one – most likely from the late 19c Victorian period – is in good shape and shows signs of some considerable use since much of the gilt has rubbed off. It was surprisingly inexpensive for a creamer of its vintage…probably as much of a surprise to the seller as to me.

This one is definitely not “Staffordshire” in the sense of being from one of the early potteries, but is indeed English, sold by a knowledgeable dealer as ‘Late Victorian’, circa 1900.  It’s interesting to me on two counts: first the curly hair, and second the fact that it is stamped with a registration number, “Rd No 445,059”.   I would like to learn more about the use of these numbers, since this is the only one in my collection so marked.

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This one has more than minor damage, and could use the assistance of a professional restorer – it’s missing its right ear and has 3 legs and one teat re-glued (ouch). It was unusual enough (and inexpensive as these things go these days) for an early 19c creamer to attract me however – finely molded, painted and glazed, and with no base.  I looked the hoof bottoms over carefully, and the best I could tell, it’s never been mounted – which would seem to explain the damage to the fairly delicate legs.

This is a very strange variant – included here because it did indeed come to me from the UK, and was dated by the seller to early 19c.  It’s fashioned of heavy reddish earthenware and has a green tinted glaze, most noticeable on the udder.  It’s fairly crudely made and has a number of firing cracks.   The horns have been replaced, and one of them was then broken at the tip.  Nonetheless a very interesting example, and certainly quite early.

Here are several examples of a creamer style that remains quite popular and is still in production, indeed is the type of creamer available in the gift shop of the Stoke-on-Trent Museum.   In the picture of the four without bases, the two with the purple luster bear a orange stamp that I believe says Wade, England (blurry, and the rest is obscured).  Wade was established in 1810 in Burslem, the town that’s the headquarters of the pottery industry in Stoke-on-Trent, and is best known these days for a small solid ceramic animal collectors set called ‘Whimsies’ that came out in 1953.  Their website (www.wade.co.uk) didn’t return anything for a search on cow creamer, so I don’t know if these are really from them, but again this is a very popular mold, and has been made by a number of potteries in the area.  See, e.g., Kent under the ‘Factories’ category.  The creamer with the reddish markings between the two purple ones has “England” in script on its belly; and for comparison I’ve included a modern one manufactured by the Kent factory between 1944 and 1962; it bears the William Kent logo of a knot with W and K in the loops, “Staffordshire Ware” above and “England” below, and the initials of the artist who decorated it.  The other two pictures show more examples, including one with a blue-willow transfer, a rather crude one in the middle of the second picture, and another Kent model, the cow with bouquets of blue flowers on flanks and forehead and the raised flower on the base, which is also typical of a large number of creamers.

These shots depict in a bit more detail the small variations of one popular version of these type creamers – small leaves and flowers, gilded horns, and an oval base with a raised flower.  The one on the right in these photos bears the William Kent logo, the one on the left is unmarked.  I’m beginning to believe that the Kent marked creamers are still in production, since they appear frequently and at a very reasonable price in eBay.  There are also reputedly older ones on sale also – at a much higher price – and it beats me how one can tell the difference from what’s shown on the web.

Here are 3 more examples of the “Kent” style creamer, showing the similarities between a modern one (on the left with blue flowers) and two 19c examples.  The older ones, typical of the time, have no identifying marks.  So how can one tell what’s new and what’s old?  Well, lacking chemical testing of the glaze part of it has to be based on faith (and the eBay feedback system seems to work quite well for instilling trust in the advertisements from the sellers), but the new ones of this pattern are all clearly stamped. 

This one – again with the same style cow – is interesting because it has the horns, ears, and 3-slash gold gilding that’s typical of Jackfield creamers.

This creamer bears a resemblance to the Kent style, but is from a completely different mold.  The Sandland family website www.sandland.freeuk.com) indicates that there were (at least) two Sandland-related pottery firms that worked in Hanley: "...a firm called Sandland & Colley Limited (Lichfield Pottery) manufactured pottery in Hanley from 1907 - 1910. More prolifically, and much more well known, is the Lancaster & Sandland of Dresden Works, Hanley who manufactured 'Sandland Ware' pottery from 1944 until the 1970s. "  This cow is in very good condition, but could easily date from the early 20c; my guess would be that it's from the Sandland & Colley firm , since most of the "Sandland Ware" pieces I've seen on the web have a very different maker's mark.  Perhaps a Sandland collector, or a member of the family, can help me here.

Here are five examples of another popular shape, depicting a cow with a relatively long neck and conical head raised and mooing.  The ones on the left in both pictures are said to date from 1890’s, and the two on the right are most likely from around the same period.  The one in the center with the mottled red markings on its side is a modern reproduction.  Note that all of these seem to have gilded horns, and some sort of raised flower on the base.

Here are two more variants of this form, both showing their late 19c age a bit, but with interesting coloring and decoration.

Here are four examples of creamers with the popular ‘Blue Willow” pattern transfers.  The potteries’ website notes that “The origins of multicoloured underglazed printed pottery go back to 1756 when John Sadler and Guy Green invented the process of transfer-printed decoration on pottery”, and that “Transfer printing is a process by which a pattern or design is etched onto a copper (or other metal) plate. The plate is then inked and the pattern is "transferred" to a special tissue. The inked tissue is then laid onto the already bisque fired ceramic item, glazed, and fired again. Initially patterns were transferred to the ceramic items after glazing, but the ink often wore off, thus "underprinting" was born. Transfer items have a crisp, almost decal look about them. If you look closely you can often see the place where the transfer design ends. Often these are the areas where the pattern doesn't quite match, like wallpaper.”  Blue willow, indeed anything Chinese, was extremely popular since it was first imported in the mid-18c, albeit imports slowed down as British potters learned to copy the style.  These examples are said the date from late 19c or early 20c.  They are all from molds similar to creamers I’ve shown elsewhere – long-necked, ‘Kent-like’, or similar to the brownish one with the ‘Majolica’ glaze.

Here is a fifth example, somewhat earlier I believe - probably @1840 - based on a combination of the circular transfer and the fairly high oval base with crude
raised flower.

This lovely dark green glazed 19c creamer really has me puzzled.  It bears a remarkable resemblance to some of the ones near the bottom of the Bennington page, but the coloration and glaze is unlike anything I’ve seen from early American pottery, and it bears the traditional fly, which is also very British.  The Connecticut antique dealer who sold it on eBay sold it as “Whieldon, Staffordshire or Pratt circa 1820” and could provide no information beyond that it came from an estate of English ceramics from the 1700s and 1800s.  Sure wish I knew more…it’s really lovely, and in superb condition.

In contrast to the cow-and-person figurines which are typically made of heavy pottery, this is a porcelain creamer with the fill hole in the back of the cow.  It’s very finely made and painted, but has no marks and I have no information about its age or maker.

This is a earlier and more important porcelain piece, dating from @1865, which I acquired at a London antique fair in 1997 and about which I have at least a bit of information.  The mark on the base shows that it was made by the partnership of Stevenson and Hancock, which began in 1863 and operated in Derby. From the web site www.derbyporcelain.org.uk we learn that  “The Old Crown Derby China Works, or as it is better known these days, the King Street Factory, ran from 1849 until 1935, when it was taken over by the present Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Co. Ltd., and closed down.  It formed an historic link between the earlier Nottingham Road factory and the current works on Osmaston Road, Derby.  On the closure of the Nottingham Road factory in 1848, six workers from there set up a china manufacturing business in rented premises at 26, King Street, Derby.  Of the various proprietors who ran this concern over the years, Stevenson and Hancock are the best known.  Their initials formed part of the main factory mark of a crown over crossed swords and D, with two sets of three dots and the initials S and H, which continued to be used after the deaths of both Stevenson and Hancock, in fact right up to the closure of the factory. The factory produced both decorative ornamental wares as well as useful china and offered a replacement service to customers who had broken pieces that they owned. Shapes and patterns used earlier at Nottingham Road were repeated, as well as turning out entirely original wares. A few products, mainly figures, were made in unglazed biscuit, but the bulk of the output was in glazed white or in enamelled form, all of the latter being hand painted.” There’s more history of Derby pottery and S&H at http://richardgardnerantiques.co.uk/page/818/Derby.  I would imagine that porcelain cow creamers were relatively rare, since the creamers were primarily utilitarian items and porcelain was significantly more expensive than earthenware.  Indeed, the books I’ve read indicate that many earthenware figured were modeled after porcelain ones, but intended for a lower priced market.  I find this cow to be a particularly lovely example – the stand or plinth underneath the belly was intended to keep the soft porcelain from drooping during firing.  Unfortunately it is missing its lid that also had the tip of the tail, as shown in the Copeland examples below.

Here indeed are a couple ceramic examples that seem to be from the same or a very similar mold as the Derby porcelain creamer.  They bear the impression for COPELAND (plus ‘J’ and ‘84’on the white one, and ‘U’ and ‘86’ on the one with patches of brown), which the Stoke-on-Trent potteries’ website’s section on marks tells us stands for W. T. Copeland (c.1847-1970), a manufacturer of earthenware, parian, and fine porcelain at Stoke, and the successors to Copeland & Garrett (1833-1847), which in turn succeeded Josiah Spode (1770-1833); and which has been Spode Ltd. since 1970.  The COPELAND impression itself doesn’t tell us much about age since it was their standard mark since 1847, but I think it not unreasonable to assume that given on the numbers on the base, these date from the late 19c

This creamer could as easily go into Modern Variations, since it is a modern version of a traditional Staffordshire creamer with calf.  On the other hand, its mark (in actuality, the picture of the base is from a nearly identical creamer from auction-antics, the seller) indicates it was made by
C. Cooke of Staffordshire, so it legitimately fits here.  I don't have a date for it, but for sure it's from pre-1995, since that's when MAJiLLY was purchased by Martha and Tony Emilio and moved to Pomfret Center, CT (see www.majilly.com).  There is a picture of C.Cooke's mark on www.thepotteries.org, but no further info about this potter, and neither the seller nor the current MAJILLY folks could supply any further information.  Help would be greatly appreciated.



I believe this large one with a calf is also quite modern.  It is clearly impressed for “Leedsware Classical Creamware, England”, and there is an interesting story here.   From www.worldwideshoppingmall.co.uk’s section on pottery we learn that “Brothers' John and Joshua Green in partnership founded LEEDS POTTERY in Leeds in 1770 with Richard Humble. Success soon came with the production of household goods in a variety of ceramic bodies, the most popular being CREAMWARE, a type of earthenware made by several companies from white Cornish Clay with a translucent glaze, producing the pale cream colour from which it took its name…By 1781 William Hartley had added his design and business expertise to the Green brothers' production skills and under the name Hartley Greens & Co the company flourished, expanding its trade across Europe and into Russia. Such was its success that from then on Creamware would also be known as Leedsware. In the 19th century after the death of its founders the different tastes of the Victorian era brought a gradual decline in business, leading eventually to the Pottery's closure in 1878. Despite the later demolition of the kilns and buildings, surviving moulds and clues from pattern books together with fine examples of Leeds pieces in local museums enabled production of Creamware to the original designs to continue to this day.” In trying to track down the manufacturer of my version I learned (from a kind person at Hartley Greens) that the old Leedsware molds were sold off by the Leeds City Council around 1988 in two lots.  One lot was purchased by Hartley Greens (which has a nice history of Leeds Pottery on its web site), and the other by Classic Creamware, which in turn was bought out, although the company that bought them no longer makes creamware.  So either my creamer is 18c, which I doubt, or it’s only a couple decades old and the mold for it is still around, somewhere.  Help please, anyone??

This one is also modern, and I have no way of knowing whether or not it really was made in Staffordshire (actually it came via eBay from Worcestershire), but someone - perhaps the N. Pratt whose name is written on the bottom - had fun making this rather crude but delightful copy of a early creamer.  One feature is unique - the hind legs are hobbled, presumably to keep her from kicking over the
milk pail.  Must have been a very frisky cow.  I have never seen this on an original old English cow creamer, and am thus wondering if the model had this feature or if it was added by the imagination of the potter.  There was a horse figurine by the same potter for sale at the same time, which I didn't purchase.

Finally, here are a couple ‘sports’, about which again I have little to no information.   The one on the left would appear to be modern (and bore a very modest price tag). The wacky cow on the right, which came from the UK via eBay, was called ‘Faience’ by the seller.  The flowers and leaves on its sides are raised, the lid is cut into the back (like my very early Whieldons), and the base bears a hand-done monogram of an overlapping T and R. It is certainly very different from any of the others.

Spill Vases

Friction matches like we’re used to today weren’t manufactured – if that’s the right term – until around the 1820s in England.  Even then, for decades they were much too expensive and rare for routine use, so people used or slivers of wood – sometimes specially shaved for the purpose – or more dangerous paper tapers to transfer fire and light lanterns and cigars or pipes.  These fire-starters are called ‘spills’, and because they were needed frequently, folks would keep a bunch of them in a vase that usually sat on the mantle.  In the grand British tradition, utilitarian items like spill vases morphed into fancier wares that were also decorative, especially during the Victorian era, providing yet another market for the inventive Staffordshire (and other) potteries.  Naturally enough, topics that were already popular as Staffordshire figurines – including cows, milkmaids, dogs, horses, etc – became decorations for spill vases.  The pair shown here – small decorative porcelain bisque versions dating from around the 1870s – are not atypical.  While these two which I’m using to introduce this sub-theme do have cows, the cows are solid.  In many cases however, cow creamer molds were modified and pressed into service as the decorations for the spill vases…and indeed, I’d guess that if you weren’t fussy you could use them for either purpose.

Here are three typical cow-creamer spill vases, dating from the mid to late 19c; the hole for the spills is in the top of the head of the two milkmaids, while the boy is accompanied by the rather typical ‘tree trunk’ that serves as the spill holder.  Since these vases were made to sit on mantles, their backs are almost invariably flat and undecorated.

cowcowcow

These two – which I bought on-line at an auction – are flat-backed and have the tree trunk shaped spill holder which is typical of early to mid 19c spill vases. But… the cows have open mouths – they do pour - and they were sold as creamers. It may well be that they could be used for either purpose. Spill vases were usually kept on the mantle above the fireplace, filled with rolled paper or thin wooden sticks – ‘spills’ – that were used to transfer fire from the fireplace to candles or lamps, or to light cigars. Creamers of course would more likely be found on the kitchen counter or table. Perhaps some enterprising potter figured he could satisfy a wider market with dual-use items like this, or – more likely - simply used a creamer mold to fashion an item that could be readily attached to a separate slip of a tree and base. Some of the spill holders are sufficiently complicated that they almost had to be made from a combination of items cast separately and they connected before firing.

Two more - identical in style but of slightly different sizes - with flat backs and a hole in the top of the milkmaid’s hat.

Here’s another late 19c variant – again flat backed, but with a much shorter tree trunk, and thus – I’d guess – more likely to find use as a creamer than as a spill holder.

This is a quite large 19c example of a spill holder-creamer, with a very fine cow and a green bucket to accompany it. The whole top of the spill has been restored- makes me wonder how that could have broken off without damaging the cow in some major way.

This large spill, in fine condition, appears to be from the same or a very similar mold, with a milkmaid added.  It was acquired from A & N Harding Victorian Staffordshire, based in Dover, England (albeit it was mailed from Jersey).  For those interested in fine Staffordshire Figures, as well as informative books about them, try www.staffordshirefigures.com.

Yet another large spill vase creamer combination in fine condition, with a slightly different posture to the cow and the yellow—hatted milkmaid facing away from her task.  This one has a couple dabs of spiky ‘grass’ added to the base. It has a piece of ceramic in the middle of the mouth – whether this is supposed to be a tongue or is just a mistake I don’t know.

Another fine, traditional spill vase with cow and milkmaid.