Paper Cutter | Pottery industry Jobs


Paper Cutter 

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In transfer printing the pattern or design is etched onto a metal plate. The plate is then inked and the pattern is "transferred" to a special tissue. The inked tissue is then laid onto the already bisque fired ceramic item, glazed, and fired again.

 Often a pattern on a piece of pottery ware would be made up of a number of transfers which were all printed on a single tissue paper - each part had to be hand cut (close to the transfer) ready to be placed on the ware.  In Victorian times this work was often carried out by children.


After printing the transfer papers are put onto 
the overhead pulley wire and sent down the shop for the
potters to apply to the ware.

Examples of "paper cutters" from a government inspectors report into child labour in the pottery industry in 1840


No. 263. Thomas Wiltshire, aged 12. [Who worked at Davenport's pottery in Longport c.1840]

Note his families occupations: Father prints the transfer, sister cuts paper, which will be for the transfer printing and mother is a 'transferrer'.

"I am employed by Mr. Davenport to sweep the cutting-shop, run on errands, break pummice-stone - nothing else. I can read and write. I went to day-school before I came to work. I go to Sunday-school now, at New Methodists. They teach me to read the Bible and that. I come to work at half-past six, sometimes a little before, and go into the hovel until the cutting-shop is open, to warm myself. I go home to breakfast at nine o’clock, and always take my half hour. I go in the other bank to dinner with my sister; she is a transferrer; father is a printer; mother is dead; another sister cuts paper; a young brother stops at neighbour Knowles’s between school-times.
Two of the other boys can read in the Bible. I don’t know much about the others. I get plenty to eat and drink. I get holidays at wakes, and races, and at Christmas."

No. 193. Mary Nixon, age 11  [Who worked at Messrs. ALLCOCKS' Earthenware and China Factories, Burslem c.1840]

"I am a paper cutter for Mary Sergeant; she is employed by Samuel Sergeant, the printer, who is her husband. We have two pressmen, two girls, and four women working with me in the same room. I have been to work three weeks next Tuesday.
Can read, but cannot write. Went to day school at Mrs. Williams's; go every Sunday to Baptist school. I come to work at half-past six ; get my dinner in the same room in which I work ; never hear bad language there ; never hear swearing I go home at six o'clock, or half-past. Work Mondays, when there is work to do. Did not work last Monday.
Samuel Sergeant is a very good man. I get now 2s. a week; shall have 3s. soon. I always take it home for my mother. My father is a slip-maker; mother stops at home to look after the young ones. Have two sisters and one brother; one of my sisters is older than I am; she is a transferer."

Examples of "paper cutters" from the 1881 census for the Potteries area:-

1881 census:
Dwelling: 5 Lansdowne St
Census Place: Trentham, Stafford, England


Marr | Age | Sex

  Birthplace Occupation
Eliza BROAD W 40 F Head London Poplar, Middlesex Laundress
Elizabeth A. BROAD U 18 F Daur Woolwich, Kent Spin Maker (Potter)
William L. BROAD U 14 M Son Cocknage, Stafford Clay Wedgar (Earth)
Louisa M. BROAD U 17 F Daur Woolwich, Kent, Printers Transferrer
Martha BROAD  11 F Daur Dresden, Stafford Scholar
Frances S. BROAD 15 F Daur Woolwich, Kent Paper Cutter For Printer

Emma WILKES    age 14 -  Potter Printers Paper Cutter
Alice HEATH        age 14 - Cutter At Pot Works
Elizabeth SMITH   age 16 - Paper Cutter (Potters)