Transfer Print Plate: Rochester Castle

Image of Rochester Castle transfer print plate, James and Roalph Clews Pottery, Staffordshire, England, 1815-1834.
Pottery and potters among imports to New World

This plate was produced by James & Ralph Clews in Staffordshire. Their ceramics were commonplace on the American frontier. The image in the center of the plate is a distant view of Rochester Castle, on the River Medway, east of London. Portions of the castle date to the 11th century. English artist Joseph Mallord William Turner depicted the castle in his work Rochester Castle From The River, painted circa 1793. A cottage with multiple gables dominates much of the painting. The Clews transfer print crudely reproduces elements of the Turner painting, including the cottage.

Elaborate transfer print plates weren’t the only things exported to the American market from the potteries of the Staffordshire region of England in the early 1800s. Working conditions were so poor, and wages so low, that many pottery workers considered emigration. Some ended up in Illinois.

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