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The Grand International Building of 1851: GPL.220-1928

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


The Grand International Building of 1851


Factory: T. J. & J. Mayer




White earthenware, moulded and decorated underglaze with a multicolour transfer print. Circular. On top of lid 'The Grand International Building of 1851', with white surround inscribed 'THE GRAND INTERNATIONAL BUILDING OF 1851' and 'For the Exhibition of Art and Industry of all Nations.'; black key plate.


History note: Possibly bought from Stanley Woolston, Cambridge, on 28 October 1924

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 12.7 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Longport ⪼ Staffordshire ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1928-12-07) by Glaisher, J. W. L., Dr


19th Century, Mid-Late
Victoria I
Circa 1851 - 1900


Lids for pots of bears' grease and various kinds of fish and meat paste were mass-produced from the 1840s. The earliest examples decorated with multicolour underglaze transfer-prints were probably made about 1847 by F. & R. Pratt of Fenton, who employed Jesse Austin (1806-79), the best-known engraver of pot-lid designs. T.J. & J. Mayer of Burslem must have adopted the technique by October 1850, when their customer Cross & Blackwell patented this view of the Crystal Palace. By the time that the Great Exhibition opened on 1 May 1851, both Pratt and Mayer had brought out commemorative pot-lids illustrating the interior and exterior of the building and the opening ceremony. See GPL.221-1918 for Mayer's pot-lid with a view of the interior. Multicolour underglaze transfer-printing enabled polychrome decoration to be executed without hand-painting. Separate line engravings were made for the black or brown outlines, and stipple engravings for each primary colour in the design. The transfers printed from them were placed on the once-fired lid one after the other with the 'keyplate' for the outlines last. Then the lid was glazed and fired again. The success of the finished product depended on the quality of the engraved plates, and the degree of care exercised in aligning the transfers.

School or Style


Components of the work


Materials used in production

clear Glaze
white Earthenware

Techniques used in production

Moulding : White earthenware, moulded and decorated underglaze with a multicolour transfer print, black key plate
Glazing (coating)

Inscription or legends present

  • Location: On top of pot-lid above scene
  • Method of creation: Printed
  • Type: Inscription
  • Text: OCT.28.1924/W
  • Method of creation: Hand-written
  • Type: Label
  • Text: For the Exhibition of Art and Industry of all Nations.
  • Location: On top of pot- lid below scene
  • Method of creation: Printed
  • Type: Inscription

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: GPL.220-1928
Primary reference Number: 14924
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Sunday 18 June 2023 Last processed: Wednesday 13 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "The Grand International Building of 1851" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-03-04 11:15:16

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{{cite web|url= |title=The Grand International Building of 1851 |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-03-04 11:15:16|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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