Thanks to Harold Crowder for getting in touch and sharing photos of his collection. Below are 9 variations of decoration I hadn't seen before. Top left and right, attributed to Maling. Top centre and all of second row attributed to Sheriff Hill. Bottom left attributed to Staffordshire. And bottom centre and right, Dixon Austin & Co. More colourful than a selection of Liquorice Allsorts, I would gladly make space for any one of them on my walls.
Most exciting, for me at least, is the circular plaque below titled 'R Raikes', 'Founder of Sunday schools'. I've attributed this series of preachers to Wallace & Co. The black and yellow border is, however, similar to those used by Dixon Austin & Co. One day, I'd love to see one of these plaques in the flesh, to get a feeling for the weight of the potting, etc.
If you'd like to see Harold's plaques, they are on display in the World Methodist Council Museum in the US.
I found a Tyneside plaque recently (below left) with a transfer based on George Cruickshank's 'The Bottle' series: plate V. There are many variations which appear on children's plates etc from North Eastern potteries (take a look at the United Collections website for some good examples), but only two variations of the series, to date, recorded on plaques. The transfers more usually, but still rarely, appear on plaques from Sunderland (below right) with Moore & Co marks. Click on the images to enlarge, and to move between them.
The Tyneside transfer is cruder - more like those that appear on children's plates - and the plaque is smaller. Last week a pair with the plate II transfer came up in the same auction lot (see below). It is odd that someone collected two rare plaques with the same transfer (there were no other plaques in the sale).
They are not without interest to compare though. Take a look at the details below. The left plaque is more heavily printed, and the lines and lettering on the transfer are slightly wobbly. The right plaque has an altogether different feel. The lettering is applied more precisely, the lines are straighter, and the image is softer. So what's the reason for the difference?
The left plaque, like the plate V plaque at the start of this post, is printed over the glaze. When the transfer, printed on tissue paper, was rubbed onto the plaque, the image moved around slightly on the glassy surface. The right plaque has the transfer applied under the glaze, directly onto the pottery body. Some of the ink soaked into the absorbent body, so there's not so much black left sitting on the surface. The surface gave more friction, so the letters and lines are less wobbly.
I would love images of the other 6 transfers in this Tyneside series. So if you're reading and you have one, please drop me a line.
Huge thanks to John Hotham for sharing the images below, showing a pair of verse plaques with the John Carr & Sons impressed mark. Although the verses are relatively common, it is rare to find a pair with impressed marks.
The image below, from RC Bell's 'Tyneside Pottery' shows the detail of the impress. The mark was used after 1846, when the Carr & Patton partnership dissolved at the North Shields Pottery (also called the Low Lights Pottery).
We can now lay to rest the suggestion that these plaques were made at the Middlesbrough Pottery. The confusion arose because the plaques are found with a variation of the London mark with the number 18 above it, which RC Bell (see below right) attributes to Middlesbrough. Click on the images to enlarge.
The transfer, mould and decoration of the London-marked plaque, are identical to those above with the Carr impress. So London marks with the number 18 appear to have been used by both Middlesbrough (who to our knowledge never produced lustre items) and John Carr.
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.