Defining Black/Flow Black/Mulberry/Purple
Posted by Tim Bennett on December 5, 2019, 6:57 am
A colleague of mine and I are trying to sort out the color of a sherd recovered from a mid 19th century archaeological site in Michigan. The transferprint has been identified as "Athens" by William Adams & Sons, registered in 1849. The color appears to be black. Photo at https://www.flickr.com/photos/94374719@N08/49170300261/in/album-72157712064675223/ |
I was wondering if anyone could provide guidance on the differences between black, flow black, mulberry, and purple. I noticed that the search filter on color in the TCC database does not list mulberry. However, in looking at the cover of Ellen Hill's book, Mulberry Ironstone, the transferprint color on the teapot appears the same as the sherd, that is essentially black. In fact, Ms. Hill commented on a post a number of years ago regarding an "Athens" pattern by Charles Meigh that the "type of pottery is called 'Mulberry Ironstone' or sometimes is called 'Flow Black' (a dark version of Flow Blue)." See https://members.boardhost.com/transferware/msg/1349362930.html If this is the case, then why not list mulberry as a search color option?
However, when looking at the post colonial ceramics section of the Maryland Diagnostic Artifacts (MDA) website, they list mulberry collectively with purple in a table of "Date Ranges of Colors". Black is listed separately. However, a second table on flow ware lists "flow mulberry" but not flow black or flow purple. See https://apps.jefpat.maryland.gov/diagnostic/Post-Colonial%20Ceramics/Printed%20Earthenwares/index-PrintedEarthenwares.htm
One photo example of a ware with "flown mulberry" decoration on MDA matches the teapot on Ms. Hill's book. See https://apps.jefpat.maryland.gov/diagnostic/Post-Colonial%20Ceramics/Printed%20Earthenwares/Other%20Printing%20Techniques/Thumbnail%20pages/Flown%20Colors.htm
The color examples on MDA does not list mulberry but has purple and black. As far as purple is concerned, this color seems to be less ambiguous. For example, the TCC database lists a sample of a J. Clementson "Claremont" vegetable dish in purple. It seems fairly straightforward to distinguish between purple and black. However, the confusion seems to surround the use of "mulberry". Is it purple or black? Should the term "mulberry" not be used at all? Not to confuse the issue, but where would gray fit in?
Further, how much "flow" is required to define a ware as a "flow" color. Some patterns that I'm very familiar with such as "Sydenham" by J. Clementson have slight variations in regards to the clarity of the print. However, despite looking at hundreds of samples of the Sydenham pattern over the years, I have yet to see one that was truly intentionally manufactured as a flow color. These variations seem to be more attributed to the quality of the transfer from the copper plate engraving. An article entitled "About the Flowing Process" submitted by George Wells to the Flow Blue International Collector's Club seems to indicate some ambiguity in this regard with comments about how transferprints are blurred.
Thanks in advance for any assistance that might be provided.
Warner Pioneer Homestead