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Talking Turkey.... and Transferware

For some time after that first solemn feast in 1621, both the date and observance of Thanksgiving depended on national triumphs and local inclination until 1863, when President Lincoln proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November the nation's official Thanksgiving Day. By the 1870s, America's rising middle class hungered to celebrate the occasion with dinnerware specifically made for this special holiday.   England's profit minded potters responded to the people of the United States wishes with a series of delectable transfer-printed china patterns depicting the holiday's bird of choice.  Transferware depicting turkeys has been in production for over 100 years and remains as popular today, if not more so, than it was when first it came into being.

 Turkey plates and platters are highly sought by collectors.  In fact, there are many transferware collectors who collect turkey patterns only.

 Prices can range but generally a huge, vintage or antique English turkey platter will run anywhere from $250-$1200 and sometimes more depending on the maker, pattern, etc.

Transferware depicting turkeys comes in all colors, not just brown or brown polychrome.

Here are some beautiful examples of plates and platters depicting turkeys.  A few of these are available in my Etsy shop, English Transferware.

This Midwinter Turkey Platter is one of my favorites.  It's a black transfer with hand painted touches of color.  The border around this is particularly of interest as it is a scene in itself.  The black is unexpected but very striking.

Black plates to match

Royal Staffordshire's Clarice Cliff produced several turkey patterns.
The most popular is probably that which has the Tonquin border.

Another of Clarice Cliffs' turkey themed plates is this one with a pretty border of fall foliage.

Here is the same plate, but in purple.  I sold 12 of these plates to another dealer for $145 a piece.  She marked them up to over $200 each.  Purple is such a popular color right now and looks beautiful with oranges and browns.  These would make for a stunning Thanksgiving table.

This Wood and Sons turkey plate is always a good choice.  It can be found in brown, blue, and polychrome in each colorway.  The blue polychrome is stunning!

 Next is a circa 1910 gilded edged platter by Royal Cauldon.  This is brown and white, simply stunning.  This platter is in my shop, HERE.

 For you Mason's Vista collectors, they too produced turkey transferware.  Currently, the most sought after color is the pink/red.

Here is another lovely brown transferware turkey platter by Rowland and Marcellus.  This firm commissioned wares from various English potters, mostly for resale in the United States through fine jewelry and china stores.

I served my turkey on this one last year and had it displayed in my home during the month of November.  

Feeling blue?  Crown Ducal produced this blue turkey platter in 1930 as part of the Colonial Scenes dinnerware which is very collectible.  I have this on the wall in my shop and listed on Etsy.

I recently did a tablescape with blues and oranges.  I should've pulled this platter out for that but this Johnson Brothers Barnyard turkey platter looks great with this color scheme as well.
 Isn't the squirrel on the border so cute?

I recently saw this Spode platter and 12 plates at auction.  The bidding started at $375 for the set.  With only a few hours left I was getting my hopes up that somehow, noone but me had seen this amazing set, and I'd pick it up for the opening bid.  HAHAHA.  I knew better.   In the back of my mind I knew that all of the serious bidders were waiting until the last moments to place their bids, but it's fun to hope anyway.  This set sold for over $3000.  When the bidding began it really BEGAN and I didn't even bother trying at that point.
The last platter and plate I am showing is another polychrome, brown transfer by Barker Brothers.  I get requests for pieces to this every single year and usually sell whatever I have in stock.  This year I have two of the platters and one plate.  The colors are so rich and vibrant.

Below are turkey transferware the pieces I have available for purchase online and in store.

Hope you enjoyed these turkeys!

Joining in at:

My Back Yard Eden


  1. Nancy,
    How beautiful! I think I like the brown and white the best, then I see the blue, and the red....I'm sure you understand!

  2. Love the turkey plates, and as I think I've said before I've never seen them in the UK (maybe my eyes have been ignoring them) - but I'm certainly on a mission to find one now though! Love the Crown Ducal one. (Even though we don't eat turkey lol)
    Your posts are really great Nancy, always so informative. Thank you :o)

  3. fantastic post!! I need to read it again!!!

  4. Love the turkey platters.Did I see a lavender platter in there some where?

  5. Yes Denise, you do see a lavender/purple turkey plate. I had the platter to this also but it has sold. I'm going to do a post, all purple, for you! get ready!



  6. Good heavens! I am coveting up a storm here. I collect vintage turkey stuff.

  7. Hi Nancy,

    I think the Midwinter platter is my favorite, but they're all pretty wonderful! Thank you for sharing the great images and fascinating information. Nicely done!

  8. We have an old turkey plate that my mother got from her mother when I was a child. I simply love the plate. It stays in my collection.

  9. I'm a newbie to your blog! Sure glad I found ya! If I were to send you pictures would you be able to tell me who the makers are? I picked up two or three a few months back for $1.95!


  10. Nancy -- that is some collection of turkey platters you have there -- wow! Just loved looking at it! Love the little squirrel too! Joni

  11. That was fun Nancy-thanks! Once again I'm drawn to the Johnson Bros, so pretty:@)

  12. Hi Nancy, All of the platters are wonderful! I never knew these were so collectible. Thanks for sharing with us.
    Hugs, Sherry

  13. I loved this post. I've always dreamed of having a big turkey platter. It just seems like you must for the perfect Thanksgiving. I've never had a Thanksgiving dinner of my own except for one year when me an the boyfriend were too sick to go anywhere, so I cooked for the both of us.

    I always go to family or I've never had the need. Maybe someday.

    But I loved seeing all of these examples.

  14. Great post...I love the platter by Royal Cauldon...absolutely gorgeous!

  15. How beautiful!! I love the beautiful platters. The brown transfer ware is my favorite!!

  16. Too bad you did not win the Spode set but I know how that goes cause we go to auctions a lot. It's really gorgeous! Love your turkey plates, Nancy....Christine

  17. This was truly interesting Nancy! So many pretty platters and plates built around the national eating holiday! I really enjoyed it. And the purple turkey plates...well I can dream, right?

  18. Nancy, thank you for showing us all these different turkey plates and platters. I think the lavender ones are my favorites because they are so unusual. I only turkey platter I have is a red ware platter. This makes me want to go shopping! LOL
    ~ Sarah

  19. I have always wanted turkey plates and a platter, but since I don't do Thanksgiving....Well, that has changed! I'm doing Thanksgiving this year and found some turkey plates from Johnson Brothers. I loved seeing all the different patterns you have collected. My favorites are the Rowland and Marcellus platter and the Johnson Brothers Barnyard Turkey because of the squirrel.

  20. Hi Nancy! OH, my goodness. Gorgeous turkey platters! You have some lovely ones!
    be a sweetie,

  21. Nancy, that was the most informative piece on turkey plates, thank you so much! I love transferware, but don't have the collection that you have, of course. It's fun to see all the different patterns!

  22. That was so very beautiful to see!!! and so the brown, but then the very first one was the best, no wait, the blue is the me!!! thanks for sharing these amazing prizes....hugs...cleo

  23. Hi Nancy,
    this is a tremendous serie of wonderful turkey platters. I must laugh about the ebay bidding. Yes, that happens always to me. But often, when I don't bid, things aget sold for a poor price. But the Spode set was really beautiful. I like the other ones also and I love the blue collection on the wall. Thats gorgeous. When I was in NY first time I bought a cream ware turkey platter with relief. It was the hugest platter, I have ever seen before. It was shipped home for me and arrived save after a couple of weeks. We still use it at Christmas for our turkey. Thank you for showing this treasures, I really enjoyed them.
    Greetings, Johanna

  24. Thanks for this great post. I love blue but the first one Midwinter is my favorite. I really did not know there were so many different styles and makers!!! ~~Sherry~~

  25. I love your turkey platters and dishes. I was born on Thanksgiving so I like Thanksgiving thingies, but I only collect small and inexpensive ones.

  26. I love dropping in just to see your pretties. The Johnson bros barnyard platter is my favorite. I am not sure why, but it certainly is very regal looking. Thanks for another great view into the world of transferware.

  27. Nancy..I always enjoy your posts! So many pretty turkey pieces. I have to admit that they turkey transferware pieces are probably my favorite and I don't own 1 single piece. Someday..until then, I drool over yours :)


  28. These are all so pretty! Makes me want some turkey themed transferware!

  29. These are so pretty....I can not believe I do not have a single anything with a turkey on it! Happy VTT!

  30. They are all so beautiful! It would be hard to choose a favorite. Traci

  31. Magnificent! I have a feeling that your Etsy Shop is going to be quite busy for the next few weeks. Thank you for sharing this bounty of turkey transferware. Cherry Kay

  32. OH be still my heart! What a fabulous collection you have! Hopped over from Vintage Inspiration Friday...I am a new follower!

  33. I really did enjoy your beautiful platters and your explanation of them. I think I learned a few things I did not know before. Thanks.

  34. This was a gorgeous post, so much Thanksgiving goodness!

  35. Gobble, gobble... I'm in LOVE! I have two Johnson Brothers platters that I just adore. Thanks so much for linking up with VIF!

  36. Beautiful turkey plates and platters. I just bought some turkey dessert plates from Home Goods on clearance today, but obviously they aren't anywhere as nice as these. I just couldn't believe they were on clearance, I would have thought they would have been sold out. Great post.

  37. The only turkey plates I've been able to add to my collection are new Johnson Brothers, His Majesty. Oh, and the platter my friend gave me--from Williams Sonoma. They work well with my Friendly Village set (also new, but a great vintage feel).
    Have you ever done a post about Friendly Village?

  38. The midwinter is so beautiful! I've never seen anything like it but will keeping an eye out for it now.

  39. I have never seen so many differnt plates like this. Just Gorgeous

  40. I love this page! Thanks so much for putting it together. I was trying to identify a set of plates with turkeys on them and stumbled here. You don't have my plates, but I truly enjoyed looking at what you have! Thanks. -Sherry


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