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In the early 1820s in Staffordshire, England a new process of decorating ceramics was taking place called transfer printing. Sketches of historic places were able to be transferred onto ceramics. Conditions were just right at that time in the area with a trained labor force, the right clay, historic events taking place, and few potteries in America.

It was said the Brits paid for the War of 1812 with the tremendous amount of dark blue pottery that they shipped to the young United States from 1816-1830. They sent their artist over to sketch battle scenes, new bridges, aqueducts, the Erie Canal, prominent buildings of note, and current political events. They used cobalt to create the stunning deep blue color under the shiny bright glaze that attracted a brisk demand among early families as far away as Detroit, Michigan.

China was packed in barrels in Staffordshire, shipped up the Mercy Canal to Liverpool where those barrels filled the ballasts of the Clipper ships that arrived in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia awaiting a brisk demand. The newly arrived “Blue China” in New York made its way along the Erie Canal to Buffalo and thence to Lake Erie ships, and on to Ohio port cities and then Detroit. All along the way barrels were dropped off at local towns and villages for sale to the local population. The English potters were smart and left off “Made in England” on the back of the ceramics. Patriotic Americans hated England at that time and would not have bought the blue transferware had they known where it was made.

Right from the start, it was highly appreciated. 60 years later it became a collectible. A periodic publication in Syracuse, N.Y. was listing pieces for sale in the 1890s. An 18-inch Lafayette platter was listed for $6.00. Today the same platter would sell for $1800.00. The historical blue also called “Old Blue” has held its value over the years. The good historic pieces are rare but occasionally come up at an auction or an antique show. Last summer at an online auction in Michigan a Sandusky, Ohio platter brought $1,900.00.

For a collector who loves the color blue along with American history … Dark Blue Staffordshire historic pottery makes a special feature on one’s wall or in one’s open cupboard.

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