The revolutionary technique of transferware was developed in Staffordshire, England, making the city the epicenter of pottery production and development for more than 200 years. The process consists of transferring a pattern from an engraved and inked copper plate to a special sheet of paper. The paper is then applied to the unfired clay such as earthenware, ironstone, porcelain, or bone china, which then absorbs the ink from the paper. Once the paper template is removed, the clay is glazed and fired.
Since its inception thousands of patterns have been produced and transferred onto millions of pieces of all shapes and sizes. The early patterns were copied from the popular hand-painted designs from China and later incorporated European and eventually American features.
Well-known potters like Josiah Wedgwood and Josiah Spode capitalized on the transferware technique, allowing them to produce much more than if they had hand painted each piece.