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The McKinley Tariff Act and A Moss Roses Tea Set

This tea set dates to the onset of the Aesthetic Movement.  Yes, this beauty is almost 150 years old.  I was fortunate to find the three piece set still together.  

This set was made by Powell & Bishop, circa 1867-1878.   The Staffordshire firm had potteries at the Stafford Street Works and Church Works, both in Hanley, Stoke-On-Trent.

I love the detail of the transfer found on these pieces.  The brown transfer has feathery branches and delicate little flowers budding all over.  The roses are hand painted pink as are the leaves in two shades of green; a soft moss green and teal.  Some of the leaves have brown highlights.  Polychroming is thought to have originated after the invention of the transfer printing process, when artists fell out of work of doing the completely hand painted pieces which preceded transfer wares.

This set has that well loved cottage look.  
I decided to share this set today not only because of how pretty it is but because of the backstamp.  It is unusual and gives me the opportunity to share a little information on dating your pieces.  Does anyone know what makes this stamp so unusual?  Remember, this is almost 150 years old.

It is unusual because it states the country of origin, which prior to 1891 the majority of wares did not have this information stamped/impressed onto them. This is the oldest piece I  have come across to have the country of origin on it....that I can think of anyway.

 It was on October 1 of 1890 that the United States introduced the Tariff Act of 1890, under then Congressman (later Governor and President) William McKinley.  It is more commonly called the McKinley Tariff Act which made it mandatory for all items imported into the U.S. be marked with the country of origin.  This Act was introduced to raise the duty on imports by almost 50% so that domestic retailers were protected by foreign competition...and that is why, still today, items have the country of origin placed somewhere on them.  

 When Shawn and I were importing containers of furniture each piece had to have a sticker on it which clearly stated its country of origin.   Much to our dismay, during our importing days we had several containers  held up in customs because these stickers had not been applied by the manufacturer.  Each piece of furniture (about 200 to a container) had to be pulled from the container, unwrapped and stickers applied before customs would release the container to us.  It was VERY costly, as in $5-11,000 costly,  because we had to pay customs warehouses to do this as it was not allowed for us to hire this out or do it ourselves!  If you've ever had to deal with customs in regards to importing, you probably have already experienced your share of nightmares and if you import things and haven't had any nightmares with customs then you will, yes I can assuredly say, you will.

(all of the containers we imported came via Maersk on a ship just like the one shown case you don't realize how large those containers are they are what semi trucks pull behind imagine how many trucks will be hauling all that cargo to their final destinations)

In 1920 the McKinley Tariff Act was amended to include the words, 'made in' which preceded the country of origin.   It went into effect in 1921.  Think of all those 'Made In China' stickers you see on things now.   Generally speaking,  you can date a piece by those phrases.  If the object has a stamp that reads England it was made in or after 1891.  If it says 'Made in England' then it would denote a date after 1920.

(the words 'made in' tell us this was made after 1920)

However, there are some exceptions like the example I've shown above that is on my Moss Roses tea set.  A few English potters began marking their wares with the country of origin before the Act went into effect. This is not very common but it did happen on occasion.  After the Act was amended some potters still continued to use only the country of origin.  I have found lots of pieces by Royal Crownford, Royal Staffordshire,  Johnson Brothers and others made after 1921 that have only the country of origin.  

Dating pieces can be confusing, so I've got some books and sources that I use,  but let this serve as a basic and general guide you can always go by when you're out shopping for transferware and other goodies.

I will do another post with a more complete guide to dating your transferware later.  I've already started that's one of those 76 drafts I mentioned a couple of days ago.

I'm going to be busy tomorrow with Jonah and Kalyn getting ready for their proms but I'll be back in a couple of days to show you my hutch of red transferware that I rearranged and added some Spring decor to.
  Have a great weekend!

p/s the teaset is for sale in my Etsy shop,  English Transferware

See you at Beverly's for Pink Saturday 
Debra's for Marketplace Monday / Vintage Inspiration


  1. I LOVE this post! It's so great to learn stuff about china and transferware. And I am going over to the shop to see more of this tea set. It is BEAUTIFUL. Then, I'm sending a few friends the link to this post. Thanks for the history lesson. Have a good weekend.

  2. Lovely transferware!
    Visiting from Home Sweet Home :)

    Greetings from Australia♥

  3. Hi Nancy! Oh, this is such a beautiful set you've found! It looks so beautiful and hard to believe it's that old! I do believe you. :) It is such a pretty pattern and you do know so very much about all this gorgeous transferware.
    be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  4. Beautiful tea set, Nancy. Thanks for all the info. You are so knowledgeable about your china and it's helpful to all of us..Happy Weekend..Judy

  5. Beautiful colors in that set. Thanks for the history lesson...I learn so much from them. Have a great weekend!

  6. Thank you! I so enjoy learning the history.

  7. what a BEAUTIFUL set!!! and thanks so very mch for the history lesson. i took notes... ok i give....wheres the set at in etsy. i looked under brown, red and misc. any clues??? thanks, susy

    1.'s the link to the teaset:

  8. That was interesting, Nancy! I don't have anything that old, but it is good to know when thrifting. My mom's china , circa 1935, Noritake, marked Nippon. (Japan)

  9. I'm going around visiting everyone on today's PINK SATURDAY list.....with my hot cup of coffee, of course! Just wanted to let you know that I was here! Have yourself a great weekend, and stop by my place if you've the time!

    ciao bella
    Creative Carmelina

  10. Nancy, that tea set is gorgeous! I love delicate china! Especially delicate china with roses.

  11. Nancy, the tea set is lovely. Thanks for sharing all this interesting information. I love visiting Nancy's Daily Dish! ~ sarah

  12. Wow, this is such a uniquely pretty tea set! I love it! Very informative post, too.


  13. That's a beautiful china pattern! I am smitten!

  14. Nancy, since I am passionately interested in preserving old tableware (china, silver and crystal) for posterity, I always enjoy your blogs. I appreciate how you try to educate, as well as add beauty to your readers' lives. The Moss Rose pattern is near and dear to my heart, as my older, very elegant next door neighbor had that china pattern, when I was a child. Love this set - it was amazing that you found all of the pieces together!

  15. Such a beautiful pattern of china, Nancy. Thanks for the education too, I have to save this post cause I need to refer to it every now an then when I need some info on some china....Christine

  16. You always teach us so much! Thanks! Importing sounds like a nightmare. I am glad some of you have the patience to deal with it -- I wouldn't.

  17. What a beautiful tea set, Nancy, and thanks for all your information that you share with us.

  18. Oh, that moss rose pattern is just so lovely, Nancy. What a find. And how perfect to have the three pieces be a teapot, a creamer and a sugar bowl! Thanks so much for sharing that information about dating. I wasn't aware of the Tariff act and its impact on dating pieces. (Or of the importation nightmares one can go through! Yikes!)

  19. Really a beautiful set and thank you so much for the information included. Fascinating!

  20. Happy Pink Saturday, Nancy. Thank you for stopping by to see my yellow.

    I've always loved this pattern. My grandmother had some of this, but I don't know who has it now.

    And, I love your hutch redo. So many pretty pieces, and each one is a treasure. And, that pillow cover is gorgeous.

  21. Wonderful transferware! Thank you for joining me at Home Sweet Home!

  22. Beautiful colors in that set. Thanks for the history lesson...

  23. This set is gorgeous, Nancy. Thanks for the very interesting info...Christine


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