Floris Ligna…. what does that mean? The best I can decipher, the translation from Latin to English is “Floral Timber”. What? Yes, there are flowers and trees incorporated in this transfer print design, but there is so much more.
There’s various geometric prints, birds and a bat too! All of these design elements are incorporated into a overall pattern that looks like a crazy quilt. This style was known as “cracked ice” back in the late 1800s and was quite popular at the time.
This pattern (shown above) was a sheet pattern, about a foot square. Notice there are two birds and one bat on the sheet.
The description above and the following image, showing the engraved steel plate, printed image and final product, came from Wikipedia.
The print on paper could be cut and laid on the piece of pottery as appropriate to transfer the image.
The Floris Ligna design had dark borders between each of the angled sections. The intent was to cut and place this sheet pattern to completely cover a piece of pottery. But sometimes a leftover piece would be used to fill in areas. If you look at the blue plate above, right side, you’ll see an area that does not have a dark border on the left edge of it. Scraps were used to complete this plate. Transferring the print to cups, pitchers, teapots, etc. necessitated cutting the sheet and placing the pattern on the vessel as artistically as possible. Lots of scraps were created in doing so which were then used on other pieces as fillers. With this crazy pattern, I guess it adds to the charm.
I have seen Floris Ligna in black, red, brown, light blue and dark blue. You’ll note that the dark blue example shown above has a slight “flow” to it as compared with the red plate next to it.
Pratt & Simpson obtained a registered design for this pattern on June 13, 1883.
However, they were not the only potters to manufacture it. Wallis Gimson and British Anchor also produced this pattern. That’s the British Anchor mark shown above on the right. I’ve also seen children’s tea sets in Floris Ligna, full size tea sets and dinner plates as well as large platters.
Shown above is a listing of designs registered by Pratt & Simpson between 1878 and 1883, with the last being Floris Ligna. Also note that there are three designs registered on November 10, 1882. I know for sure one of these is the “Pandora” pattern; whether all three involved variations of “Pandora”, I do not know.
An 1880 ad for Pratt & Simpson is shown above as well as an 1882 notice of the dissolved partnership between Joseph Simpson and Joseph Gimson doing business as Pratt & Simpson. (Thanks to Steve Birks at thepotteries.org for these images.) Pratt & Simpson was subsequently succeeded by Wallis Gimson & Co.
Note that the beehive and all-seeing eye mark used by Pratt & Simpson was also used by Wallis Gimson. How and at what time British Anchor started producing this pattern, I do not know. However, the British Anchor Floris Ligna mark shown earlier in this post includes the word “England” and that was used starting in 1891 and thereafter.
I’ve included a close up of the bat on this sheet pattern. Because there is only one per sheet, and because it is so darn adorable (for a bat) with the moon and stars, it is somewhat coveted. If you have a piece of Floris Ligna with a bat, you’ve got something special. At least I think so.
The “cracked ice” craze wasn’t just going on in England. American silverplate manufactures were incorporating it into some of their patterns. Luther Boardman & Son produced the “Breton” pattern which has a crazy quilt look to it. Pair that with your Floris Ligna dinner ware to really make a statement.