(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved. Contact us for information about using this image.
Elizabeth Allen spent some of the money she earned braiding straw hats to purchase this transfer-print plate of the Massachusetts State House. In the 17th century, most people ate off wooden trenchers or pewter. The great English pottery works set up in the 18th century made ceramic "china" dishes more available to more people and many, like this plate, were made specifically for the American market. The new technology of transfer printing onto this pottery brought exotic and foreign landscapes and scenes into country homes across America. As in the last century, only a small minority could afford genuine Chinese porcelain. The availability of English ceramics allowed even ordinary Americans to gather around a table and dine from individual place settings, an exercise in gentility unknown to most people a century earlier. Transfer print commemorative scenes and images like the one Elizabeth Allen purchased were very popular among Americans in the 19th century.