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“Franklin’s Morals” series

Henrywood's Highlights
Transferware from a British Perspective

Number Twenty-Five of an Ongoing Series by Dick Henrywood

Dick Henrywood

For this issue I am crossing the Atlantic to look at an uncommon series which appears to have been made mainly for the American market, few details of which seem to be recorded in existing literature. Benjamin Franklin was a favourite subject for the potters and his moral maxims can be found on a wide range of children’s plates and also by different makers, including Clews, on some dinner and tea wares. There is, however, one very attractive series made in dark blue which is particularly collectable.

“Franklin’s Morals” series

An uncommon series of designs illustrating Benjamin Franklin’s maxims, produced by Davenport of Longport in Staffordshire, probably mainly for the American market. The central scenes are printed within a border of flowers, fruit and shells. Most examples bear a printed mark with the series title on a ribbon with the individual pattern title curving above, all superimposed on a leafy spray. Impressed and printed Davenport marks are known, but many examples have no maker’s mark. Examples are known with an importer’s mark for Hill & Henderson of New Orleans. To date the series has been recorded only on dinner wares printed in blue.

Back in 1951 Laidacker recorded just three scenes in his Anglo-American China (part 2), repeated in The Dictionary of Blue and White Printed Pottery in 1982. Volume 2 of the Dictionary added a fourth scene but I can now add two more, so our knowledge now extends to six individual patterns:

“If You Would Know the Value of Money, Try to Borrow Some”
Plate 6in

“Many a Little Makes a Mickle”
Plate 9in
Illustrations: Camehl (plate)

“No Gains Without Pains”
Dinner Plate 10.25in
Soup plate 10in
Illustrations: Camehl (plate)

“The Eye of the Master Will Do More Work Than Both His Hands” *
Platter 14.6in
Illustrations: Laidacker 2/39 (platter); TCC I/1 (platter and importer’s mark)

“The Used Key is Always Bright”
Plate 7in
D5037, D5038 (mark)

“What Maintains One Vice Would Bring Up Two Children” *
Plate 8in

The asterisks indicate the two titles for which I have been unable to confirm the exact wording. Only one solitary pattern is recorded in the TCC database (“No Gains Without Pains”), so I have chosen one of the previously unrecorded scenes to illustrate here (courtesy Peggy Sutor), along with its mark.

It can be seen from this list that illustrations are scarce and all recorded scenes are on plates except for just one on a platter. Now where are all the other pieces? Surely there must be more than one platter, and what about tureens, vegetable dishes and other less-common pieces for a dinner service? They must be out there somewhere? Answers please to


(Click on images for a larger view.)

“Lerigi, Gulf of Spizzia” dessert plate in brown.
“The Used Key is Always Bright” tea plate with printed titles mark


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