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19th Century Staffordshire Blue Transfer Printed Pottery
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Introduction

Asiatic Pheasants is a transfer printed pattern, usually printed in light blue, which has proved popular for nearly 200 years and yet little information about it has previously been gathered together. As popular as Willow it has been so much a part of our antique heritage that it really has been taken for granted. Ask most people what an antique blue and white plate would look like and they would immediately think of the Asiatic Pheasants pattern without being able to put a name to it. The paleness of the design can look old even when in pristine condition, and some people believe that the paler it is, the older it is. The colour, of course, depends upon the amount of cobalt ink used in the transfer, which has not always been very consistent so that even within a single batch from one manufacture the transfer colour can have a lot of variation.

This site is designed for everyone who wishes to add to their knowledge and understanding of this most popular of blue and white pottery patterns. As always happens on a quest like this the research has answered some questions, but left others unanswered, particularly about the origins of the pattern.

So common is this pattern that many areas claim it for their own, but, for instance Asiatic Pheasants was not a pattern produced at the Cambrian or Glamorgan Potteries at Swansea, Wales during their heyday, and as yet we have no evidence that it was produced there at all. Neither is there any evidence to suggest it was produced earlier than about 1830.

It is likely that the design originated with Ralph Hall of Swan Bank Pottery, Tunstall, Staffordshire, who was active from 1822 to 1849. Hall's Pheasant appears to have been printed mainly and perhaps exclusively in black. Soon other potters began to produce Asiatic Pheasants, printed almost invariably in pale blue. Podmore Walker & Co of Well Street, Tunstall, Staffordshire commenced business in 1834 and were early producers of Asiatic Pheasants and subsequently claimed to be the originators of Asiatic Pheasants. In 1853 they took over the Ralph Hall factory.

By 1880 Asiatic Pheasants was the most popular pattern of all, toppling Willow pattern from the top spot. Made by so many makers, the production quality of Asiatic Pheasants varied as it was made to different price levels for different markets.

Today the pattern is collectable as antique transferware and whilst pieces are not as numerous as in the past it is one of the very few antique pottery patterns which was produced in such numbers as to allow the modern collector the opportunity to build a complete service not merely of the pattern, but by individual manufacturers, given a degree of patience. Pieces are to be found in many households and may be found at car boot sales, jumble sales and antique fairs or from specialist dealers, of which the best known are our sponsors Lovers of Blue & White

Meat Platters are common and can usually be found easily, but the smaller pieces like sideplates, have survived in much fewer numbers, and consequently may take longer to find and by size proportinately more expensive. Tureens and covered vegetable dishes often have lids and dishes that do not fit particularly well and this may be because they are a later "marriage" or may never have sat too well with each other. Finding marks on anything other than flatware may be considered a luxury, so when a collector is searching for that elusive gravy boat, they will have to be guided by the pattern transfer itself, to determine how closely it matches their flatware, because it is difficult to determine which body shape relates to which manufacturer or period.