" ". The Smiling Cat: Vintage Liberty Blue & White Transfer-ware Dishes

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Vintage Liberty Blue & White Transfer-ware Dishes

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I love this time of the year!  Spring has sprung.  The days are long, warm & sunny.  It’s also the beginning of yard sale season, time to start treasure hunting again……This last weekend I was on the way back from the store and came across the end of a yard sale.  Boxes were being re-packed, usually the sellers don’t want to put all the left overs back in the garage, and you can really get a good deal.  I don’t think that I’m a cheapskate, but I love getting a good deal.  It’s all part of the fun.  Anyway, I could see there was a box of blue & white dishes which seemed so familiar.  I made an offer, which the owner happily accepted, and drove off with 2 boxes of blue & white dishes.  When I got home and unpacked the boxes, I recognized the Liberty Blue pattern.  My Mom had brought some of these dishes at the grocery store.  I remembered seeing them displayed at the Jewel.  I started doing a bit of research and discovered………
The Benjamin Franklin Federal Savings & Loan was a financial institution established in 1925.  To celebrate their 50th anniversary in 1975, they looked for something special to offer their account holders.   They also wanted a 1976 promotional premium item to tie in with the 1776-1976 bicentennial celebration of America’s Declaration of Independence from England.  They contacted the Enoch Wedgwood Company, located in the historic Staffordshire district of England.  Enoch Wedgwood (1813-1879) was an English potter, founder in 1860 of the pottery firm Wedgwood & Co of Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent. He was a distant cousin of the famous potter Josiah Wedgwood, of Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, but their two businesses were separate concerns.  Wedgwood & Co was renamed Enoch Wedgwood (Tunstall) Ltd in 1965 and in 1980 it was taken over by Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, who renamed it Unicorn Pottery.  Many of the vintage Avon keepsake dishes were made by this company.  They developed a unique pattern of ironstone dinnerware, the Staffordshire Liberty Blue, for the savings & loan company.  Ironstone is a type of pottery first made in the United Kingdom in late 18th-century.  It is often classed as earthenware, although in appearance it is similar to fine stoneware.  It was developed in the 19th century by potters in Staffordshire, England as a cheaper, mass-produced alternative for porcelain.  Its name is derived from its strength & durability.  The Liberty Blue dinnerware was made in the tradition of the 19th century Staffordshire historical blue china, also called transfer-ware.  “Transfer” designs were first applied to ironstone by Miles Mason, in an attempt to copy the designs of Chinese porcelain.  Transfer-ware is most often in one color, such as blue, against a white background.  Some patterns have colored details that were added on top of the main design.  These designs range from dense patterns that cover the piece, to small, delicate floral motifs.  The Liberty Blue pattern consists of fifteen different historic scenes from the American colonial period.  It is ironic that this tableware pattern, celebrating Colonial America’s independence from England, was created in England.
  • Washington crossing the Delaware from
  • Lafayette landing at West Point
  • The Boston Tea Party
  • Paul Revere on horseback
  • Old North Church
  • Ben Franklin
  • Mt. Vernon – George Washington’s Home
  • Monticello – Thomas Jefferson’s Home
  • Independence Hall
  • Washington leaving Christ Church
  • Betsy Ross – the nation’s first flag
Each dish has a historic scene in its center and a border pattern of wild flowers.  Such as this Betsy Ross dessert/berry bowl.
On the backs, there is a unique stamp in the center with an eagle holding a flag, shield and a banner with the words ”Original copper engravings of historic colonial scenes printed on Staffordshire Ironstone.  Detergent and Dishwasher safe.”  Above the eagle are the words “Liberty Blue.” Directly below the shield are the words “Made in England.” Finally, at the bottom, is the name of the scene.
The association launched the promotion in 1975.  When a subscriber made a new deposit of $50, he received a free four place setting.  If a customer deposited $1,000, he could buy a 45-piece set for only $45.   Additional settings could be purchased.  The Liberty Blue dinnerware was made for two years.
In October 1976, the association announced it was discontinuing the promotion at the end of the year. After that time, customers could order pieces from the Sigma Marketing Co. of Garden City, N.J.
Sometime after 1976, Liberty Blue dinnerware was offered to grocery stores nationwide for promotional use.  For so many dollars spent on groceries, the customer could buy a different piece.  Each week there would be a different item to purchase.  This must have been the display I remember.  The dinnerware disappeared from the scene by the mid-1980s.
The arrival of eBay created a market for the dinnerware as original purchasers and those who inherited sets wanted to complete them or add accessory pieces. In 2002, Debbie and Randy Coe authored "Liberty Blue Dinnerware," published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd.


If you are looking for more Liberty Blue dinnerware, visit the Robbin's Nest.

And just because it’s so pretty, here is a French Country table by Debbie at:  Confessions of a Plate Addict


Well, that’s all for now.  Hope you are having a great day-Carole

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