So why has it taken me so long to accept this? Ian's opinion (which I've always valued) was almost in a minority of one. When these plaques appeared in reference books and articles (not just Gibson) they were listed as Victorian. (Although, perhaps tellingly, they do not appear in Baker's 'Sunderland Pottery' – the key work of scholarship on the subject.) Similarly, whenever a Crimean plaque of this kind or a train plaque turned up in an auction house or on a reputable dealer's stall, it was always catalogued as 19th century Sunderland lustre (see lots 384 and 402 in Sotherby's Tolson Collection catalogue, for instance). The vetters of the major antique fairs agreed. The collectors, who were prepared to pay £400 –700 for the train, agreed also. And as discussed at the end of my previous post, the Sunderland Museum accepts the plaques as 'right' and displays them alongside originals. For me the real sticking point was that they looked old – often with cracks, and corners missing.
But here are 5 reasons which contribute to why I now believe they are copies (or fakes if you prefer)...
1. They are coloured in too neatly
2. They have a 'greasy' feel
3. Some of the colours look wrong
4. Limited number of a broad range of subjects
5. The transfers don't appear on other lustre items
Some final thoughts
After believing for so long they were 19th century, I'm loath to put a new date on them. The first half of the 20th century is the best I can suggest. They are old enough to have been worth repairing pre-1950 (see my December 22nd post). They're also old enough to have been accepted as originals by W D John & Warren Baker when they wrote their book 'Old English Lustre Pottery' (1951).
Adams added printed marks to much of its 20th century output. The mark on the plaque below was used over a long time frame: at their Greenfield site 1914–1955, and at their Greengates site 1914–1970. The marked plaque doesn't show the same signs of stress or age, so I assume it was made later.
Ian says that by 1920, items celebrating war had little commercial appeal. Interestingly, around this time, British toy manufacturers switched from making soldiers to farming figures. Perhaps this was a good time for a pottery to produce retro farming verse plaques?
But this is an edited selection of Ian's comments. Like me, he's struggling to get his head around this new attribution.