Every year at summer’s end, those who have enjoyed the fresh breezes and idyllic settings in Essex bid a fond farewell to their summer camps and return to their homes elsewhere, usually farther south. Savoring their time in Essex on Lake Champlain, people want to take with them something to remind them of their experiences here—whether it’s a summer’s tan from sailing, kayaking, hiking or biking, or photographs of long vistas from the tops the High Peaks.
It’s a long tradition of keepsakes, as proven by a little creamer that someone gave me recently. Standing just over 3 inches high, this porcelain pitcher is imprinted with a colorful summer sunrise over Lake Champlain. The inscription reads: “Park at Boat Landing, Essex, N.Y.”
From what I can tell, it’s a view from what is now Beggs Point Park, where I believe the Charlotte-Essex Ferry landing once was. Curiously enough, a postcard published on the Essex on Lake Champlain blog in December 2013 shows a similar view, from a slightly different angle.
According to the antique dealer who sold this pitcher, it dates from “1910 or earlier” based on his research in the “Collector’s Guide to Souvenir China” by Laurence W. Williams. The scene would either have been adapted from this postcard or a similar view, which the porcelain designer would have copied or adapted for this creamer. The two images correspond in several ways, and if you look closely enough at the pitcher, you’ll see a tiny park bench at the edge of the shore on the lower right.
This colorful little pitcher is an example of transferware, in which the image is inscribed into a metal plate and then printed onto the china object. That differs from a similar 19th-century process, chromolithography, which is how postcards of the same period would have been printed. Here, the colors appear to have been painted in by hand, not mechanically. An inscription in red on the bottom reads: “Made in Germany for The Thompson Co. 5 and 10 Stores.”
If anyone knows where that store was located, or if you’ve seen a postcard of this very same scene, I’d love to hear from you!