Decorating Step-by-Step: Terrific Transferware

Why should you start collecting these pieces? Because they have timeless style. Consider this your guide to buying the best.
Julie Feagin Sandner
Decorating Step-by-Step: Terrific Transferware
Laurey W. Glenn

Visit any antiques store or flea market, and you'll see an array of transferware. Here's the skinny: A new printing process began in the 1700s in England. A pattern was etched onto a metal plate, inked onto a special tissue, and then applied to a ceramic item, which was glazed and fired. The pieces became less costly alternatives to painted ceramics. Today items range from $45 for a plate to thousands for a platter with intricate details, but they're some of our favorite collectibles. Accent your home with a few pieces.

Is It Legit?
If you purchase transferware from antiques dealers, they've likely done research as to how old pieces are. But you can be a pro too. Flip an item over to see if it was registered under the English system (similar to our copyright system). Imprinted, stamped, or painted marks reveal when a piece was registered, not made. Visit for specifics on dates and examples to help narrow the time frame during which a piece was registered.

Best Bets for Shopping


"Decorating Step-by-Step: Terrific Transferware" is from the February 2007 issue of Southern Living.