By: John Hogan

Souvenir China is a terminology that seems to have derived as a result of what to call china and pottery pieces that depict people, places, buildings and events of modern day existence.




Years ago it would have been referred to as Historical China and would have been manufactured, generally speaking, from early 1800-1910. When people travelled they always wanted a memory or souvenir to remind them of their experiences and  travels. Consequently those days were not always captured by means of photography. Therefore ingenious potters of the times decided to depict such sights by means of transferware upon pottery and porcelain items of many different forms or shapes whether they were bowls, foot-baths, plates, platters, jugs, tankards, or urns. These were now items that people could possess once on their way home that would lock their memories of their trips and experiences abroad. England seems to have been the forerunner in the production of historical and souvenir wares from 1800-1910.

After 1910 the term Souvenir China seems to have been more widely acceptable amongst travellers and shop vendors who dealt in such wares. At the turn of the century, circa 1900, onward many souvenir shops popped up all over major United States cities and Canadian cities. They were now ready to import many souvenir pieces from the various English pottery and porcelain factories. They were considered major importer and distributor centers and set themselves up as Souvenir Shops to cater to the whims of the traveller. Such business was an instant monetary success for all involved.

The Rowland & Marcellus Importing Company in New York City was one prime example of a great importer who dealt in a blue and white line of transferware that depicted buildings and events in America. Some of these pieces were flat plates with a fruit-and-flower border and others were a rolled edge plate with medallions in the border each of which were different and combined different buildings or cities throughout the United States that would pronounce a large central scene. Those plates I would consider a Second Wave of Historical China. These pieces border on flow blue in intensity of blue and are treasured by many avid collectors. These are definitely a feast for the eyes!

Today the terminology Souvenir China is more reserved for more contemporary china products of manufacture and imports. Souvenir shops of yesteryear were more discriminatory and carried higher quality souvenir engraved cut crystal and glass, souvenir engraved silver and other mediums of art whereas today many modern souvenir shops are set up like department stores that cater to all denominators and are over priced tourist traps. This is why many souvenir buffs check out little antique shops, antique malls and antique shows to ascertain that they are still buying quality souvenir objects of yesteryear.

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