Thanks to Ian Holmes for sending me the photo below. He recently bought the bottom right plaque and noted similarities with two others in his collection. The large rectangular plaque is marked 'Dixon Co'. Ian describes the decoration under the verse as 'colliding meteorites'! It shares that feature with the smaller rectangular plaque, bottom left. The other decoration on that plaque bears a startling similarity to the circular plaque beside it. Seeing them together it seems likely that they all came from the Garrison Pottery (Dixon and partners).
The wonky lettering is also familiar. Compare Ian's new plaque (top left, below) with the brown and yellow plaque beside it, attributed to Dixon. The serifs are different on the 'G' and 'S', but the artless spacing of the words is very similar. The plaques also appear to come from similar moulds. Beneath them are two further Garrison plaques, the bottom left with the impressed mark 'Dixon, Austin & Co'.
Pink-lustre Garrison plaques of this period are less common than their black/brown and yellow counterparts. The revelation for me is the small rectangular plaque in Ian's first photo, which was previously unattributed. The plaques below also fall into that category. The first three have variations of the colliding meteorites. None of them is marked. However, only the bottom right plaque is similar enough to merit a Dixon attribution. More work is needed to include the others in the group.
Note the lettering detail (below left) from the bottom right plaque above, and compare it to the detail from Ian's small rectangular plaque (below right). Very similar strokes from the same hand.
I have added the new attributions to the Dixon page. As always, if you have a plaque with similar decoration, please get in touch.
Apologies to anyone who has had a spam e-mail from me today. Along with thousands of others, apparently, my Yahoo account was hacked into. If you have received an e-mail from me today, please don't click on the link.
For anyone else with a Yahoo e-mail account, I'm told that the best way to prevent it being hacked into is by having a complex password, with no words in it, just a combination of random letters and numbers. Needless to say I've changed mine!
I search fairly obsessively for plaques, and very occasionally my persistence is rewarded with something special. The best finds are those that are badly listed on the internet, or in auction catalogues, that there's a chance nobody else has seen. Those finds are few and far between. However, I bought the plaque below recently for under £30. It has a less common verse that appears on plaques attributed to Maling, and plaques from another, as yet unidentified, Tyneside pottery.
The border is finely moulded with something similar to a 'leaf and dart' motif (see below). I can't recall seeing this moulding on any other plaques.
So is the plaque attributable to Maling, like the one left below, or to the other Tyneside pottery, like the plaque below right? Look at the black outline around the letters in the details (click to enlarge). The plaque with the 'leaf and dart' border (in the centre), appears much closer to the unidentified Tyneside pottery on the right, but I'm not certain they are from the same transfer plate. The plaque moulds are also very similar, and the plaques unusually thin.
There must be other plaques out there with this border. If you have one, please get in touch.
Most of the plaques on this site come from the North East of England. However, at least one pottery in Staffordshire was prolific in making circular and rectangular black and white transfer-printed plaques. I have a small collection of these, some of which I've just got around to photographing.
The John Wesley and Adam Clarke transfers most commonly appear on
Probably the most common transfers on this plaque form are Faith, Hope and Charity (see above). The plaques come in two different sizes: small,
The music plaque above (8" x 6.5") is superb, and relatively rare. It may be one of a series of transfers symbolising the arts, but if so, I've never seen any of the others: painting? theatre? dance? The Willett Collection in Brighton has, I recall, a similar plaque with a classical subject, but the search function on their site is down at present, so I can't provide the link.
The first four plaques above show landscapes with deer, cows and a windmill (click to enlarge). The bottom centre plaque, which appears to be identical in form to the circular Wesley above, has a transfer of a girl feeding chickens, and the bottom right shows a game of blind man's bluff. The rectangular plaques are
The above small plaques titled 'THE GRACES' and 'THE SENTINEL' have a very different form and feel to the other plaques above. Page 199 (757) of Riley (Gifts for Good Children) shows a similar alphabet plate, titled 'THE SENTINEL' with the impressed mark T.& B. GODWIN. NEW WHARF. (New Basin Potteries, Burslem, Staffordshire 1809-1834). Page 37 of Gibson (19th Century Lustreware, 2000) shows another similar plaque with two girls.
As an antidote to the rather twee plaques above, here are some magnificent plaques of the boxers Spring and Langan. Read more about them on the Portraits page. The larger size of the single plaques sometimes appears with black and yellow borders. The right plaque is huge, measuring 16.5" x 13", and appears with black and yellow, and red/puce borders.
I got out my camera this morning to catch up with photographing plaques, and to allow a more detailed comparison of the transfers on three plaques below. I'm now certain that all three came from the same transfer plate. Look at the identical way the black is distributed on the leaves in the first detail (click to enlarge and to move between images). Even better, note the black fleck to the right of the flower in the second detail, on the two rectangular plaques. The transfer plate must have acquired this tiny scratch sometime after the circular plaque was produced.
The thing of note here is that the third plaque has hanging holes pierced through the outer lustre border (see my previous post on the subject). So it appears that Fell produced rectangular plaques with hanging holes in two different positions (compare it with the plaque beside it). That means that we can't rule out Fell as the maker of the as-yet unattributed plaques below.
However, as discussed before, Fell is the only pottery known to have produced plaques from similar moulds pierced beneath the lustre border.
Two and a half years ago I wrote about plaques with 'scalloped' corners. I'm not sure that that's the perfect description for them - Ian Sharp calls them 'butterfly' corners. Moore & Co (Sunderland) made larger-sized versions of these plaques in the 1840s (see below).
All other variations of this plaque form appear to come from Tyneside. Both Robert Maling (below left and right) and CT Maling (below centre) made smaller plaques of this form in the 1840-50s. Many Tyneside plaques of similar size are unmarked and, naively, I wanted to attribute them all to Maling. Many have green decoration, a feature common on early Maling plaques (but a feature associated with Tyneside pottery in general).
My prejudices were reinforced when I saw the entry below in an old Railtons' auction catalogue. Many of the unmarked plaques have similar religious verses, with a wash of pink lustre over the central transfer, so my attribution seemed to gather strength.
The first challenge came discovering the plaques below, both marked B.&Co, so surely not Maling. Ian Sharp identified them as Burn & Co, from the Stepney Bank Pottery, 1852-1860. So green decoration on plaques, certainly wasn't unique to Maling.
In my last blog post, I identified a further group of these plaques as Fell & Co. They were often washed with lustre over the central transfer, so that's another feature we can't solely attribute to Maling (those with eagle eyes will have noted that the first Moore & Co plaque above also shares this feature).
This week I remembered the bridge plaque below, from the Anderson and Garland website. The transfer appears on marked wares by Galloway & Atkinson at the Albion Pottery, c1864. I'm unsure whether the plaque below is marked, but the auction house identifies it as Albion Pottery.
So nearly all the larger Tyneside potteries produced plaques with scalloped corners. This brings me to my final examples below. The obvious attribution for these plaques is from one of the North Shields partnerships (Low Lights Pottery) of John Carr. They share the same transfers as later Carr-attributed items. But I previously resisted this attribution on the grounds that the plaques below look nothing like their later counterparts, and in fact have features more commonly associated with Maling. But we now know that nearly every pottery on Tyneside was using this rectangular plaque form. And at least two other potteries, Burn and Fell, used green decoration. I'm now more confident about attributing the plaques below to Carr.
Take a look at the items below. The ferry plate on the left has the impressed mark C.C.&Co. The ferry started in 1829, so the initials could stand for Cornfoot, Colville & Co (1828-32), or for the later North Shields partnership, Cornfoot, Carr & Co (1832-38). Note the similarity of decoration to the third plaque above. The later plaque, on the right below, again with similar decoration, is attributed to John Carr & Sons (c1870). For more information on dates see the North Shields partnerships page. Although we've already shown that decorative similarities must be treated with some caution, it is great to have this link.
Of course, the strongest basis for this attribution is the use of the same series of transfer plates. The copper plates did sometimes move between potteries, but usually after a pottery closed down and its effects were auctioned off. Whereas the Carr partnerships in North Shields ran from 1832 almost to the end of the century, so there's no obvious reason for them to let the transfer plates go.
So I've got more work to do reorganising these pages. My best guess is that the two scalloped cornered plaques above belong to the Carr and Patton, 1838-46, period at North Shields. As new items emerge, the picture becomes clearer. Who knows what will turn up in the next three years.
I got very excited when I saw these plaques at Bellmans Auctioneers recently. They are a true pair in terms of decoration, and have probably been together all their life. One of the plaques has the London impressed mark over an anchor.
Looking at the spacing of the holes, it appears to be the 'Prepare' plaque that has the impressed mark.
These plaques sometimes appear with an impressed crown mark (see below), which identifies them as Fell & Co. Fell is on Clarice Blakey's list of potteries using the London mark, so it is great to have photos of an example. I have added the Bellmans' plaques to the London impressed mark page.
Another feature of the Bellmans' plaques got me thinking. The transfers also appear on plaques with green corners (see below). In a previous blog post I suggested that perhaps the green-cornered plaques were Maling, and that the transfer plates moved to Fell at a later date. I might now have to eat my words. The plaques below all have an unusual feature in common with the Bellmans' plaques. Can you spot it?
The feature doesn't appear on any of the plaques I know of with a Maling impressed mark. See below for several examples with impressed Robert Maling and C T Maling marks.
In case you haven't already guessed, it is the positioning of the holes for hanging the plaque. As with the rectangular plaques made in Sunderland, the Maling plaques have their holes pierced in the lustre border. See below for a Maling-marked religious example and compare it to the 'Prepares' and 'Thou gods' above. The holes on the Maling plaque are in the lustre border, whereas the green-cornered plaques, as with the Bellmans' plaques, are pierced within the central rectangle of the plaque.
So what of other Tyneside users of this plaque form? Below are two marked B & Co plaques, for Burn & Co of the Stepney Bank Pottery. As with the Maling plaques, they are pierced through the lustre border. So does this prove that the green-cornered plaques above are all Fell? You'll notice that one of them has very similar decoration to the plaque on the left below. I think there are two possible explanations for this. Firstly, we know that B & Co emulated Fell and even copied their printed mark (see my previous post). So should we really be surprised if they copied Fell's green decoration? Secondly, it's possible that B & Co supplied Fell with earthenware plaques (or vice versa) for lustre decoration.
Something similar could be said for the lustre decoration over the verse transfer on some of the green-cornered plaques. On the basis of the Mustard collection plaque above, I'd previously assumed this to be a feature peculiar to Maling. However, there's no reason why both Maling and Fell couldn't have decorated plaques that way. I can hear your protests already: there's no reason either why both potteries couldn't have varied the position of their hanging holes.
I've been through hundreds of photos, trying to find a Fell example pierced through the lustre border. Take a look at the two ship plaques below. Plaques with this transfer sometimes have the Fell crown impressed mark. However, the right plaque, although pierced through the border, has a different transfer (compare the details below). The left plaque with the holes in the centre rectangle, is decorated very similarly to the Bellmans' plaques above, and is, therefore, the one with the claim to be the Fell version.
The only other two examples I have recorded with the crown mark, both have holes in the central rectangle.
The only similar example I could find pierced through the lustre border, is that on the right below. I'm still not 100% convinced it has the same transfer as the plaque beside it.
So this Tyneside series of common verse transfers appears on plaques with a feature apparently peculiar to one pottery. It's not a decorative innovation that other potteries would likely copy. The guy who did the piercing simply preferred his holes lower down, and was damned if he was going to put them anywhere else. As some of these plaques have the Fell crown impress, it seems fairly safe to attribute the others (with the same transfers and the same lower holes) to Fell also.
So my hypothesis is...
- Both Burn & Co and Fell produced plaques with green corners/borders (perhaps Maling too)
- Both Maling and Fell produced plaques with lustre over the central transfer
- Only Fell produced plaques with hanging holes through the central rectangle
As always, I'd be very happy to hear from anyone who can add anything to this.
I've several times quoted Clarice Blakey in regard to the London impressed mark. She states in a Northern Ceramic Society newsletter (83) that...
The five reported users of the LONDON mark are:
Middlesbrough Pottery, 1834–52
Isaac and Thomas Bell, Albion Pottery, 1860–63
Carr & Sons, Low Lights Pottery N. Shields, 1844–c 1900
Malkin, Walker and Hulse, British Anchor Pottery, Longton, 1858–64
Fell & Co, St Peters Pottery, Newcastle on Tyne, 1817–1890
I'm hugely grateful to Gary Spence for getting in touch recently regarding a pair of children's plates, one of which has the impressed London anchor mark (see below).
The transfers and printed marks also appear on plaques. However, as yet, no plaque with these transfers has been recorded with the London impressed mark.
Ian Sharp, who has many years' experience cataloguing North Eastern pottery, has identified the mark as the Tyneside company J Burn & Co from the Stepney Bank Pottery, Ouseburn, 1852–1860. Interestingly, that isn't one of the potteries on the list of users of the London mark.
R C Bell (Tyneside Pottery, 1971) shows a Burn & Co printed mark, very similar to that used by Thomas Fell. It has two sea horses around a shield underneath which is written 'B.&Co.' He suggests that the mark was intended to deceive, as Burn tried to 'pass his wares off as those of the leading Tyneside firm of the day'. I don't have a photo of the Burn printed mark, but here is the Fell mark below.
So at any rate, we appear to have another Tyneside pottery to add to the list of users of the London mark. I agree with Gary's assessment that 'a London wholesaler came to an agreement with a number of small NE makers for them to stock his outlet and that the London stamp was to ensure that the packers / distributors got it to the right destination'.
For interest, below are a selection of London marks that appear North Eastern pottery. The last image is a scan from R C Bell's book, and appears on a plate with an 'Albion' printed mark with the signature 'I&T.BELL.'. R C Bell suggests that different numbers on this kind of mark signified different potteries.
Respectively below are the items the marks come from. You can see more images of the bowl (top right), and another with a similar mark, on the United Collections website.
Do you have an item with or any further information about the B.&Co. or London marks? If so, please get in touch.
I have put all the information collected so far on a new London impressed mark page.
One of the things I love about plaques is imagining who owned them before me, what kind of rooms they hung in, and what they might have meant to their owners. A dealer once told me that they really belonged in rural cottages. But given the mass migration from the countryside to cities in the 19th century, they just as likely hung on the walls of a terraced two up, two down. Dick Henrywood has referred to plaques as 'Poor Man's Pictures' - the title of his two articles for Antique Collecting (November 2004, March 2005).
My friend, Stephen Duckworth, has been doing some fascinating research into who bought religious Staffordshire figures - presented recently to the English Ceramics Circle. Given the prices of figures and incomes in the 19th century, he suggests that the lower middle classes - skilled trades, lower ranking office workers and the like - were the most likely market for such wares. Stephen says those on higher incomes might have bought pottery for servants quarters or for the nursery. What better to keep servants and children in check, or paying visitors in a guest house, than a 'Thou God Sees't Me' plaque on the wall? (Perhaps George Orwell had such a plaque in mind when he coined the slogan 'Big Brother is Watching You'.)
An obvious market for maritime plaques and verses would be for the families of sailors. Indeed, sailors stopping off at Sunderland might well have bought such presents and keepsakes to take home with them. Maritime jugs, for instance, appear with inscriptions relating to Guernsey families. See two below that came up at Skinner Auctioneers recently.
Now, the reason I'm posting all of this is that Norman Lowe recently contacted me regarding a plaque I own with a hand-painted history of the Long Family. It is a Dixon plaque with hand-painted birth dates. It starts with a marriage date, and ends with a death. It must have been made after 1851: the most recent birth date on the plaque.
Norman cleverly tracked the Long family down in the 1851 census, and found them living at 48, Albion Street, Withy Combe Rawleigh, Exmouth, Devon (see below). I have transcribed the text from the plaque beneath the census information. There are some slight variations in the dates, but they are clearly the same family.
The first three lines indistinguishable...
Married at Littleham April 26th 1829
Mary Ann Long born March, 4th 1830
John Puncombe Long born February 1st 1832
Susan Jane Long born February 28th 1834
William Long born June 7th 1836
Henry Puncombe Long born July 19th 1838
Caroline Da...s Long born February 10th 1840
George Long born December 8th 1843
Henry Long born May 31st 1846
Edwin Charles Long born February 5th 1849
Charlotte Sophia Long born October 14th 1851
Henry Puncombe Long. Died May 29th 1841
So it looks as if John and Anne were married at Littleham in 1829, when he was 21 and she was 18. They had their first child, Mary, a year later. By 1851, just before when the plaque was made, there were 10 of them living at the same address. Their third child, Henry, died in 1841, not yet 3 years old. But a new child, Charlotte, was born shortly after the census, bringing the household total to 11. John Long was a mason employing one man. His boys are also listed as masons, working from as young as 14. The girls worked as lace makers. The younger children are charmingly listed as scholars. John perhaps commissioned the plaque, satisfied that his procreative duty was done and there would be no more children. His 40 year old wife, Anne, after giving birth to 10 children, was probably mightily relieved!
Courtesy of Google Street View and maps, you can see the three-story town house that they lived in. Zoopla tells us it probably had about 5 or 6 bedrooms, and today would be worth about £170,000. By Victorian working standards, the Longs would have been relatively well off. Precisely the market that Stephen Duckworth had supposed. Perhaps father and eldest son, John, drank in the Exmouth Arms around the corner, after a hard day's masonry, and the family went to Exmouth Chapel on Sundays.
The Long family have no obvious maritime link, so perhaps the plaque was commissioned through a local distributor, or a sailor carried the instructions to earn some money on the side. See the Plaques with hand-painted text page for more plaques with a South West of England link, commissioned for the Quick family in the 1870s.
Huge thanks to Norman for supplying me with the census details. I appreciate the magic of the plaque even more than I had done previously, and I wouldn't have thought that was possible.
Mate Sound the Pump is 3 years old. Google Analytics tells me that 7,867 unique visitors have been on the site, with 14,919 visits in total, and an average visit length of 3 mins 38 secs. There have been visits from 98 countries, and all 52 states of America (California and New York top the list for visitors). Thank you all of you (even those who accidentally logged in looking for dental treatment in Sunderland). While I did the ironing this afternoon, I tried to make a list of 10 favourite plaques I might never have seen if it hadn't been for this site. It wasn't an easy choice and I could have expanded the list to 20. Here they are in no particular order.
A special thank you for all those who have shared their knowledge and photos. If you have a plaque that doesn't appear on this site, please get in touch!