Treasure: Transferware still has fans among collectors
People collect and preserve things for all sorts of reasons. Steve Alcock’s reason may be even more understandable than most.
Alcock, of Rochester Hills, wrote to the column about his 17 pieces of china made by the Alcock Company in Great Britain. “My grandfather inherited it from his relatives, and I eventually inherited all of it,” he explained to appraiser Brian Thomczek at an appraisal held at the Michigan Design Center in Troy. “This would have gone to my father, who is 92, but he wasn’t interested.” Alcock said his grandfather would also make the rounds of estate sales and antique shops and collected anything with the family name on it. “He was very interested in our history,” he explained further. “My grandfather traced our family back to Cobridge, England.”
According to thepotteries.org, a website that tracks English-made earthenware, John Alcock worked in the area from 1853 to 1861. The firm of Henry Alcock & Co. was in operation in Cobridge, Stoke-on-Trent, England, from 1861 to 1910. They are known as manufacturers of earthenware, including white graniteware produced under the name “Ironstone China” and “Parisian Porcelain,” made exclusively for the American market. After 1910, the firm became known as the Henry Alcock Pottery, a name it retained until 1935. It later became known as Soho Pottery. The marks on the pieces also changed through the years, from H.A. & Co with the pattern name from 1861-1880 to Henry Alcock & Co. from 1880 to 1910; England was added after 1891 and LTD after 1900, which can help date when pieces were produced.
Among the pieces that Alcock brought in are examples of pottery known as “Flow Blue,” which is a popular form of pottery among many known as “transferware,” made by “transferring” a pattern from plate, much like a printing press.
Unfortunately, the market is down for porcelain and pottery, including Flow Blue and transferware, says Thomczek. “There are still people who love it, but it’s not as strong as it once was,” adding that collecting goes through cycles, similar to any other business. “That’s why I always advise people to buy and collect what they love and then the market’s ups and downs don’t matter as much.”
He valued the individual plates at $30-$40 each, saying that he’d give Alcock a collected estimate of $1,000 retail, $600-$800 at auction for all of the various pieces of Alcock pottery in his collection. Thomczek also pointed out that Alcock could search for additional pieces online and at replacements.com if he was interested in adding pieces to his collection. He dated most of the pieces to around the turn of the century.
“I’m an only child,” Alcock told the appraiser as he pondered the fate of the family china. “I remember some of them being used at family holiday meals when I was growing up. I also remember helping take them to family reunions to compare with what others had.” Alcock also brought in a 19th century family Bible, which Thomczek said would bring about $150 if it was in better condition.
He hopes future generations will be interested in the family’s rich heritage. “I have a son and a daughter and luckily she’s kind of interested in this stuff, so it will probably go to her someday.”
Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to firstname.lastname@example.org. If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.
Items: Alcock china
Owned by: Steve Alcock
Appraised by: Brian Thomczek
Estimated value: $600-$800 at auction