For the last couple of years I've been working on a new website cataloguing the transfers found on jugs, mugs and bowls, and other lustre-decorated items. But that's not to say I've completed cataloguing plaques. I'm constantly surprised by what turns up. Here are a few highlights.
The green-bordered plaque on the left above is a rare and wonderful example of the most common verse, Prepare to Meet My God. Under it is the text 'Whoso leadeth a Godly life; Shall be my Servant'. It pairs with a Thou God transfer, which I have tentatively attributed to Maling. But although I have seen three or four versions of the Thou God, I had never seen a Prepare, until this one came up.
I've always loved these plaques with three relief angels, from an as yet unidentified pottery. I knew that versions with the transfer-printed 'Prepare' verse existed, but had never seen one in the flesh. Recently two came up in fast succession.
Staying with the angel plaques, here's a previously unrecorded verse. Ecclesiastes 12:1 'Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth'.
Above left is another hand-painted verse with distinctive decoration, and unusual black, blue and yellow borders. Above right, a hand-painted plaque attributed to Thomas Fell, St Peter's Pottery, Newcastle.
Above are two very pretty variants of the Sheriff Hill verse plaques. They have blue hand-painted flowers above the verses.
The two plaques above have 'Come box the compass' transfers. Although these are often recorded on jugs and bowls, I'd never seen them on a plaque before. The above left transfer appears on Maling wares. The above right appears on late Moore's items (c1870).
Above is a rare Staffordshire plaque attributed to T & B Godwin, New Wharf Pottery. This 'Christmas Day' transfer more often appears on children's plates.
Above are two more Staffordshire plaques: left, a boy walking a girl over a bridge; right, a mother and child.
Finally, my favourite new acquisition: a hand-painted Scott's plaque from c1840, with the text 'Mate sound the Pump, morning, noon and Night'.
So even after nearly 20 years of collecting plaques, there are new things to discover. Don't forget to check the Sunderland Pottery Transfers site I've been working on.
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.