Pitcher, "Signals at Portland"

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This creamware pitcher is transfer-printed with a depiction of the Portland Observatory located in Portland, Maine. The transfer-print of the Observatory is polychrome, as is the depiction of two unnamed brigs flying American flags on the reverse of the pitcher. Flanking the Observatory are the various signal flags that would have been flown on the western and eastern staffs of the observatory. Each signal has an “Explanation” near the bottom of the pitcher. Above the Observatory is the title “Signals at Portland Observatory.” On the handle is a black floral design and around the base, top, and spout are bold, black outlines
This pitcher is part of the McCauley collection of American themed transfer print pottery. There is no mark on the pitcher to tell us who made it, but it is characteristic of wares made in large volume for the American market in both Staffordshire and Liverpool between 1790 and 1820. Pitchers of this shape, with a cream colored glaze over a pale earthenware clay, known as Liverpool type, were the most common vessels to feature transfer prints with subjects commemorating events and significant figures in the early decades of United States’ history. Notwithstanding the tense relationship between Britain and America, Liverpool and Staffordshire printers and potters seized the commercial opportunity offered them in the production of transfer printed earthenwares celebrating the heroes, the military victories, and the virtues of the young republic, and frequently all of these things at once.
Currently not on view
date made
place made
United Kingdom: England, Liverpool
Physical Description
polychrome (overall surface decoration color name)
ceramic, earthenware, refined (overall material)
transfer printed (overall production method/technique)
overall: 9 1/4 in x 9 3/4 in x 6 1/4 in; 23.495 cm x 24.765 cm x 15.875 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
collector/donor number
Credit Line
Robert H. McCauley
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
Domestic Furnishings
McCauley Liverpool Pottery
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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