Did you listen in on our TikTok talk about the work of craftsmen in Tunstall, Staffordshire England? It’s a line of historical dinnerware commemorating the Texas Revolution and the US-Mexican War called “Texian Campaigne”. It’s one of the most sought-after Staffordshire patterns to this day.
The potters used six colors: blue (the most common), brown, purple, green, black, and red (the rarest). Each piece of pottery has a unique vignette of battles with imagined natural surroundings, and interestingly, military uniforms that looked like they were from the Napoleonic Wars, far before the US-Mexican War. This distortion is likely due to a lack of information and of course, artistic license, as the craftsmen were across the Atlantic and had to rely on newspapers and word of mouth.
This pottery was introduced to the United States as early as 1837. According to the Transferware Collectors Club, James Beech of Lion Works, Sandyford, Tunstall, Staffordshire was in partnership with fellow potter Abraham Lowndes from 1821 to 1834, and after Lowndes retired, Beech continued production until 1844. Upon Beech’s retirement, Thomas Walker leased the pottery and acquired Beech’s equipment; he ran the Lion Works until his death in 1852, after which Anthony Shaw bought engraved plates at an auction in September of 1853 and began production on his own. All three potters exported to the USA, and all three have their own distinct backstamps on the Texian Campaigne patterns.
Let’s take a closer look at one plate, made with brown pigment, and examine the details. Bordering the main scene on the brim of the plate are some soldiers on horseback, some royal figures, and what looks like a musical instrument of sorts. As we move inward, floral designs come into play. In the center of the plate, several soldiers are shown riding into battle, leaving behind a dejected individual seated near some plants. I wonder what battle this plate represents, though the themes of loss (the mourning individual), fighting for freedom, and patriotism would apply to any of them. The potters used depth and layering effects to create a cloudy, stormy sky with some palm trees rising on the horizon; they also used color contrast (white and brownish) to create the illusion of shadows and varied topography. The level of detail involved in the creation of one piece of earthenware is remarkable!
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