On November 24, I wrote a post about a group of plaques with unusual borders and an irregular crackle. Since finding a plaque from a similar mould with a 20th century Adams printed mark, a question mark has hung over this group. But how do you prove the age of an unmarked item?
We know that the train plaque in this series must predate 1951, because it appears in W D John & Warren Baker's book 'Old English Lustre Pottery' (The Ceramic Book Company, 1951). But can we get further back?
Ian Holmes has a plaque from this group with a Crimean subject we'd expect to have been produced in the late 1850s.
Interestingly, from the point of view of dating it, there is an old stapled repair. Even better, it has the restorer's sticker on the reverse.
Ian suggested that if we could establish the date that staples ceased to be used, we could perhaps get back even further. I entered the details on the sticker into Google, and could hardly believe my luck when I found this link.
Not only that... Founded in 1888, Eberhardts say they are the oldest antique shop and restorer in the US. That takes us back well beyond the 20th century Adams printed mark. Eberhardts have moved since the time of the repair. I e-mailed them and asked whether they could confirm the date of the move, and when staples stopped being used for repairs.
They couldn't have been more helpful, and even contacted Mr Eberhardt to answer my questions. Here's what they said.
That is definitely an Eberhardt's repair job. Harry Eberhardt was the only China repairer/restorer to use double silver staples for repairs. The idea is that the double silver staple is stronger with less thickness or protrusion than a single staple. You'll also notice that the staples are somewhat recessed into the porcelain, also for less protrusion.
Harry Eberhardt moved from 213 S. 11th Street about 50 years ago.
Today I got a further response...
Mr Eberhardt says the staples went out of use in about 1950 and we moved from 11th street about 1956. The double staples were in use from 1888 or before. The Eberhardts sticker was in use for many years.
So not the news I was hoping for. I do, however, feel I've learnt a bit in the process. Thanks to Jonathan Novak at Eberhardts for all his help.
Though this doesn't doesn't take us back beyond the 1930s, when the Adams Pottery repros were likely produced, it does add to the weight of circumstantial evidence. Would someone go to the trouble of repairing an object that was barely 20 years old?
I'll leave you with a final Eberhardt's link to browse...
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.