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Vegetable dish and lid
  • Vegetable dish and lid
    Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904
  • Enlarge image

Vegetable dish and lid

  • Place of origin:

    Hanley (made)

  • Date:

    1884 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904 (designer)
    Old Hall Earthenware Co. Ltd. (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Transfer-printed earthenware

  • Museum number:

    C.121:1, 2-1999

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case 1 []

Object Type
This dinner service is made of earthenware, the cheapest of the ceramic materials to fire, and the decoration is transfer-printed, the least labour-intensive method then available. However, it does have features which lift it out of the ordinary. Dresser's commitment to practicality led him to include a dip in the soup plates to help in scooping up the last spoonful. The plates of this service had indents in the rims for condiments. The vegetable dish is of a strongly geometric form, typical of Dresser's design style.

Dresser was a trained botanist and perhaps the most radical and prolific of 19th-century designers. He was often described as a 'pioneer of modern design' and promoted quality, machine production and new materials. His interest in and commitment to commercial design meant that he actively sought opportunities to design for inexpensive mass production.

Design & Designing
Dresser's designs for the Old Hall Earthenware Company were first registered in 1884. This service was registered in 1886. Although it was given the name 'Shanghai', the pattern has no connection at all with Chinese ornament or the east Asia. This complete irrelevance of name to pattern is common in Victorian ceramics. This same shape was also decorated with other patterns called 'Persian' and 'Hampden'.

Physical description

'Shanghai' pattern vegetable dish and lid

Place of Origin

Hanley (made)


1884 (designed)


Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904 (designer)
Old Hall Earthenware Co. Ltd. (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Transfer-printed earthenware

Marks and inscriptions

Both marked with 'Chr Dresser' facsimile signature and other marks


Height: 14 cm, Width: 32 cm, Depth: 15.5 cm

Object history note

Designed by Christopher Dresser (born in Glasgow, 1834, died in Mulhouse, France, 1904); made by Old Hall Earthenware Company Ltd., Hanley, Staffordshire

Descriptive line

'Shanghai' pattern vegetable dish and lid by Christopher Dresser for Old Hall pottery

Labels and date

British Galleries:
PART OF A DINNER SERVICE in the Shanghai pattern

The geometric, functional shapes of this dinner service were innovative and modern in 1884. The use of earthenware and transfer-printed decoration was a cheaper alternative to painted porcelain. This reflected Dresser's belief that art should be inexpensive and accessible. [27/03/2003]




British Galleries; Ceramics; Scotland


Ceramics Collection

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