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The Staffordshire Mezzanine aka Meat Strainers / Drainers

From the early 19th century, most dinner sets included a drainer, or mezannine as they are often called, which was flat and had a hole in the center, with smaller holes all around it. This drainer would fit inside a large serving dish and would have been used when serving meat, particularly fish, to drain the juices.

From my personal collection are these two examples below.
Copeland Spode, circa 1860 Duncan Rural Scenes with Hops Border

Did you recognize them?  You're used to seeing them with my canine collection displayed on them.

I decided to do this post because each time I show you all my doggies I have several comments and emails from you asking about the drainers.  Most of the time, you all tell me you had never heard of or seen them before so, I decided to gather some photographs and examples of these to share with you.

Here is a rare, Chinese influenced piece with a camel and giraffe amongst exotic foliage.

From Wedgwood, circa 1846, is this drainer in the Bouquet pattern.

Classic Blue Willow, early 19C

I am planning a post which will feature many plates from this Aesthetic Movement pattern by Brown Westhead and Moore entitled Gainsboro.  The transfer on this and the corresponding pieces in this set are impeccably rendered and very striking.  You'll love seeing all the various fruits, but for now here is the meat drainer.

From Brownfields, a pretty floral drainer in a lovely gray transfer.

Next is an early example attributed to John & William Ridgway in the India Vase pattern, circa 1825.

Pretty lavender colored transferware by Burgess and Leigh in the Paris Plum pattern, circa 1870

This impressive example is an ivory colored polychrome transfer ware fish platter complete with is original drainer insert.  It was made by Powell, Bishop & Stonier,  circa 1878-1890,  and is decorated in the Aesthetic style with the sweetest songbirds perched amongst  flowering tree branches, and dragonflies buzzing about.  This oblong platter measures over 21" in length!  You can see how the drainer is made to fit into the platter.

Here we have yet another Powell, Bishop & Stonier Potteries set.  The pattern is London, circa 1882, and is a relish or berry server of sorts printed in brown and renders meticulous hand painted detail in a plethora of vivid, natural colors.  It depicts exotic flowers, birds and so indicative of the Aesthetic movement, an inset featuring the Horseguards; the London stables during the Victorian era.

This very rare strawberry dish by Copeland (Spode), also from the Aesthetic Movement, features images in dark sepia brown transfers of a butterfly amongst wild grasses in interior of the bowl.  
I have several pieces of this pattern, Daisy, in my shop. The exterior is embellished with a ring of daisies which have been tinted in a rich palette of green, turquoise, ochre glazes and luster glazes. With its open lattice work sides, reminiscent of earlier creamware pieces, and the drainage holes in the base, this piece is remarkable. Reticulated handles and four feet have accented gold flora and scrolls adding a special touch. The underplate also has the butterfly grasses and daisy motifs.

Back to the more common type of meat drainer inserts. These next few examples are each paired with their respective meat platter.

From the Aesthetic Movement, this Doulton's piece is a wonderful polychrome example in the Oxford pattern, circa 1882.  

 19C Blue Willow adaptation 

And again, from the Aesthetic Movement this pattern is Palmyra by Sampson Hancock & Sons, circa 1880's.  I have several polychrome plates in my shop HERE where you can also read about the pattern and the potter.

Here's a small drainer from my collection as well.  You've seen this pattern here quite a bit because it's one of my favorites; Spode Byron, circa 1930's.

Drainers are seldom used anymore but they are very collectible, and displayable.  In one of my all time favorite dining room photos, look what Charles Faudree crowned this wallscape with.  See the holes in the top, center piece over the painting?  Yep, it's a Staffordshire transferware mezzanine!

Lastly, this isn't transferware obviously but it is a wonderful, whimsical creamware example of a 19C meat drainer.

Hope you all liked seeing these.  Have a wonderful weekend!



  1. I have never seen these before, Nancy. So very beautiful! Have a great weekend!

  2. I Have never seen large drainers before.What a beautiful collection.I have a small dish it has a drainer and a domed lid.Not sure what they used it for.

    1. Hi Anne,

      Without seeing it, I cannot say for sure, but I am pretty certain it is a soap dish. Oftentimes the soap dishes were round bowls with drain inserts and covered domes. Some butter dishes were made like this as well!

  3. I always enjoy your posts! I love transferware ,and reading your blog is a feast for the eyes. Thank you for the information on these great pieces.

  4. As functional as I'm sure they are, and were, I think they are beautiful pieces in their own right, Nancy. I love the brown and white platter you show with the birds.

  5. What pretty pieces. You know I never knew what these were. I have learned so much through blogging. These are just gorgeous examples! xo Diana

  6. Oh wow, that all I need to drool even more, over transferware! I'm loving these strainers Nancy, specially the brown ones with twigs and birds! Thanks for sharing. I have the very same dogs from doggie collection..I think I have about 33 as of now. Love doggies too.

  7. I learned something new tonight! Thanks for all the information you share, along with your lovely pictures!

  8. Nancy, this is such a great post. I've seen them before, but never realized that they were for meat. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with Seasonal Sundays.

    - The Tablescaper

  9. I always learn so much from your posts Nancy! You are a plethora of knowledge when it comes to dishes!!

    bee blessed

  10. I enjoyed seeing all those beautiful drainers. I have never seen them in person though, so they must all be rare. Another favorite piece of mine is the "tree in well" platter, you hardly ever see those also. hugs...cleo

    1. Cleo, You're right about the tree and well platters. I thought about showing some of those also but maybe I'll save that for another post. I have one or two. They are BIG and heavy. My Mom has a silver one and has had it for as long as I can remember.

  11. Nancy all your beautiful transferware collections just amaze me. I had never heard of these before. You certainly know your history and I love that you share it with us!! I too love the Charles Faudree room and no I had never noticed that before until you pointed it out.Thanks for such a beautiful and interesting post.


  12. Wow! Gorgeous and I learned something! Thank you!

  13. Thank you Nancy for sharing your collection.. I have never seen these and I appreciate your knowledge on the subject! The patterns in the transferware are amazing~ Have a great Sunday!

  14. Great post, so informative. I have never seen these before.

  15. Nancy, Thank you for the education about these meat drainers! They are so gorgeous!!

  16. Nancy: I am in awe of your collections..Happy Sunday..Judy

  17. Nancy, I love to read your informative blogs. Have you ever considered writing a book? I have a collection of reference books on tableware and I honestly think that your tutorials are better than any of those. If you have already written a book, please let us know!!

  18. Don't know why Aesthetic china and silver calls to me. Perhaps a previous life LOL.

    I always adore seeing your things and always learn something new. Such a pleasure! Did you happen to see the Transferware Collectors Club grant notice? Might be a good topic! Thanks for stopping by. Jane

  19. Hi darling, I've always wondered what these were called. You know I'm going to "have" to have a blue and white one.. I love my latest order, will post about them soon, everything is "perfect" in the sunporch.. hugs ~lynne~

  20. In all of my years of collecting everything I have never run across these drainers , maybe because they were to pricey ? but I think I would have noticed them. I am going out to our best antique mall and see if I can find one

    they are fabulous, you have the best stuff when it comes to transferware

  21. These are fascinating, Nancy. (And beautiful!) Thank you so much for posting them I'd never heard of a drainer before. Although I have seen strawberry and latticework bowls before. (The ones you showed are lovely!) Take care.


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