Texian Campaigne is an earthenware pottery, decorated with hand-pulled transfer prints, which was produced in the Tunstall area of England between 1846-1852. It depicts various romanticized views of the U.S. War with Mexico. The annexation of Texas, in 1845, by the U.S. Congress under President James K. Polk was the basis for the war with the actual hostilities beginning in 1846. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in 1848, established the Texas claim to land between the Nueces River and south to the Rio Grande River. The pottery, Texian Campaigne, has become one of the most sought-after and highly valued of the Staffordshire patterns.
There are six colors of Texian Campaigne: Blue the most common, Brown, Purple, Green, Black, and Red. Red, which is a true Christmas red in hue, is the most rare and the color which will fetch a somewhat higher price. It should also be noted that there is a wide variance in the depth of the color purple causing some to think it is two different colors. However, upon careful examination of many pieces of purple, it is obvious the difference is only in the depth of color and not that there are two different colors.
Pieces are marked on the back TEXIAN CAMPAIGNE within a cartouche, with makers' initials at the base of the cartouche. The word Texian is spelled in the English manner, which was the original form of the word Texan. The known makers' marks are J.B., T.W., and A. Shaw who was the Staffordshire potter Anthony Shaw. Not all pieces will be marked, such as a cup and its saucer, but the lack of a mark does not diminish the value of the piece. The front border of Texian Campaigne will show the Greek Goddess, Ceres, and war trophies of a Drum and Draped Flags. It is of great importance to note that the Staffordshire pattern Napoleon is almost identical in its decorative scenes, but Texian Campaigne will always have the Drum and the Flags. The value of Napoleon does not reach that of Texian Campaigne by the slightest and the novice collector, when buying these patterns should take care.
Also important to note is the fact that two issues of Texian Campaigne have been made in the last 20 or 30 years. The first was a series of blue, 10 ½" Dinner Plates produced by Mottahedeh and sold by The Dallas County Heritage Society and so marked under-glaze on the back. The second is a five-piece blue limited edition service, again made by Mottahedeh, and commissioned by The Friends of the Governors Mansion for use in the Texas Governors Mansion. Sixty settings were made for The Mansion and a limited number were made and sold to the public in boxed sets. All are also clearly marked, under-glaze, on the back Mottahedeh (in script) Made in England for Friends of the Governors Mansion. Some of the Dallas issue are now coming on the market, but there should be no confusion between the old (the mid 19th century) and the new as all are clearly marked. Certainly there is no comparison in value.
The scenes found on Texian are both interesting and confusing to the new collector and there is no definite attribution to their source. The two most accepted ideas are that the scenes are broad copies of the mid 19th century lithographs (of which there are 25 in number) done by Nathaniel Currier, and copies of the beautifully done 12 lithograph portfolio done by Carl Nebel again in the mid 19th century. A little of both may be true, but certainly none of the scenes are direct copies of the above two sets. As one will note, upon careful examination, the artists of the decorative transfers took a great amount of liberty with the uniforms of both armies, the flags and even the flora and fauna of Mexico. Nowhere will one see The Stars and Stripes or the Mexican Tri-Color with Eagle and Snake, or the flat caps of the American soldier of the period. When comparing the scenes on the Napoleon pattern with that of Texian Campaigne, it is obvious that accuracy to historical detail was not the main concern of the English artists and that the romanticizing beauty of Napoleon's army with their tri-cornered hats and feather plumes already depicted in many French prints of the time, was, perhaps, considered more economical to use.
To further complicate the study of the decorative scenes it is interesting to note that the same scene will be found on many like-size plates but then not on another. The 10 1/2" dinner plates will all have the same scene, all the 9 1/2" plates will have the same scene, but the 8 1/4" and 7 1/4" plates will have yet another scene of a cannon and soldiers and then up will come some 71/4" plates that will have a second scene of a rearing horse. This duplication of like scenes on like-size plates will again start to repeat itself on the 6" plate and yet another on the 10 1/4" rim soup plates. Many various serving pieces were made, platters, tea sets, various sizes and shapes of bowls, etc., and they will all have somewhat the same but more elaborate scenes with added horses, soldiers, flora and fauna. But, again, none of these repeating scenes will be historically accurate and it seems as though the Staffordshire artists simply used what transfers were available to elegantly and gallantly show the battles of Palo Alto, Chapultapec, and Buena Vista to name only a few.
It is a fact that the U.S. War with Mexico served as a proving ground for many U.S. military men who had their first battle experiences on the fields of Mexico. Many of these very veterans would, only a few years later, fight on American soil in The Civil War. Many men, both enlisted and officers, who fought as comrades in Mexico would later find themselves to be bitter enemies on their home soil. The great popularity and high value of this commemorative Staffordshire pattern is a true phenomenon in the world of antiques. This simple and rather naive pottery pattern fetches very high prices on today's market and its popularity has spread well beyond Texas borders. Large collections may be viewed at the following museums:
The Bayou Bend Collection, Museum of Fine Arts - Houston
The Witte Museum - San Antonio
Texas A & M University - College Station
The Dallas Museum of Fine Arts - Dallas
The Star of The Republic Museum - Washington-On-The-Brazos