My friend Myrna wrote a blog post recently about how rarity is not always reflected in the value of early Staffordshire figures. Something similar may be said of the rarer variations of plaques with common religious verses.
If you've been following this site for a while, you might remember the eBay seller 1079edmund who tried to add value to common plaques by over-painting them with fake enamel decoration. Below are some genuine examples of enamel decoration. The plaques are attributed to Scott of Southwick, c1845. I have seen quite a few examples of the smaller plaques, like the one in the centre, with hand-painted flowers in each corner. This plaque is unusual because its border has an inner yellow band. However, the larger plaques on left and right below are real rarities (click to enlarge). In over 10 years, I have never seen any others of that kind with enamel decoration of flowers.
The two plaques below have common transfers, but superb lustre decoration. The left plaque is attributed to Scott of Southwick, and the right plaque to the neighbouring pottery of Moore & Co. Admittedly, I paid a reasonable sum for the right plaque. However, if the transfer had been of a ship or other pictorial subject (see lot 403 in the Tolson Collection catalogue, or plate 111 in Gibson), I might have had to pay two or three times as much. Again, I have never seen any comparable examples of verse plaques.
Finally, the two plaques below have common verse transfers on very rare moulds. The plaque on the left comes from an as-yet unidentified pottery. It has an unusual shaped back. I have never seen the mould before. The plaque on the right is attributed to Scott of Southwick and has a decorative moulded border. I've only ever seen one other rectangular plaque with this border, and have shown them side by side on the Scott page.
It is these kind of variations that make collecting plaques exciting. I bought nearly all the plaques above for less than the cost of a meal for two, in a London restaurant. If you have photos of any such interesting plaques to share, please drop me a line.
Click here for a beautifully decorated plaque in the stock of Ian Sharp. Ian has updated his site with some great plaques, so be sure to take a look.
Thanks to Libby Graham for getting in touch and sending details of the tee-total plaque, left below. There are two very similar variations of this transfer, shown below, which appear on small circular plaques associated with C,C & Co (click on the images to enlarge and to move between them). I looked at the differences between these transfers in November last year. The plaques have very similar lustre decoration, and are almost identical in size (see bottom left and right).
The great thing about Libby's plaque is that it has the C,C & Co impressed mark (below right). That's not to say that the other plaque wasn't made by C,C & Co also. Given their similarity, it seems likely that it was.
The C,C & Co mark is most often attributed to Cornfoot, Colville & Co, of the North Shields Pottery. However, we know from press releases that that partnership dissolved in 1832. The pottery was then run by Cornfoot, Carr & Co, (1832–1838) who continued to use the C,C & Co impress. Tee-totalism took off in the late 1820s, so the plaque could have been made by either partnership.
Keith Bell has found out some more snippets regarding the changes in partnerships as follows:
1) An advert from the Newcastle Courant of 23rd August 1828 announcing the firm of "Cornfoot, Colville & Co" commencing their operations from 13th August 1828. The pottery was sold at auction on 8th January that year (Lot 16) as part of the sale of the assets of Nicholas Bird when he went bankrupt.
2) An advert from the Newcastle Courant of 28th May 1831 announcing the
sale of the lease of the pottery at the Low Lights and dated 26th May 1831.
Thanks Keith, I have updated the North Shields Pottery partnerships page with this new information.
Stephen Smith lives in London, and is always happy to hear from other collectors. If you have an interesting collection of plaques, and are based in the UK, he will photograph them for you. Free advice given regarding selling and dispersal of a collection, or to those wishing to start one. Just get in touch...
This website is indebted to collectors, dealers and enthusiasts who have shared their knowledge or photos. In particular: Ian Holmes, Stephen Duckworth, Dick Henrywood, Norman Lowe, Keith Lovell, Donald H Ryan, Harold Crowder, Jack and Joyce Cockerill, Myrna Schkolne, Elinor Penna, Ian Sharp, Shauna Gregg at the Sunderland Museum, Keith Bell, Martyn Edgell, and Liz Denton.