I've measured a variety of plaques which I've tentatively attributed to John Carr's Low Lights Pottery, North Shields.
Most of this first group share the lustre decoration I talked about in a previous post. Oil appears to have been dropped at regular intervals around the frame. Gibson, in his book on Lustreware, writes 'An overall coating of pink lustre would be sprayed with fine drops of oil while still wet. These formed small pools on the surface which, when fired and the oil had burnt away, left the surface mottled'.
The borders on most of the group 1 plaques have a variegated (almost striped) appearance (see below left). Compare them with the more irregular lava-lamp quality of the Dixon plaques (below right).
There are variations of about half a centimetre in some of the sizes (see below). N.B. these plaques all come from quite deep moulds (circa 40 mm). We would expect some variation amongst these deep plaques, even if they came from the same mould. Before their first firing, they would have been prone to distortion through handling, and I guess there was the possibility that the clay might 'sag' or 'droop' a little. Looking at the photos below, the odd one out appears to be the centre right which has less 'pinched' corners than the others, and almost certainly comes from a different mould.
Top left, 210 x 187 mm
Top right, 215 x 190 mm
Middle left, 214 x 188 mm
Middle right, 215 x 193 mm
Bottom left, 216 x 186 mm
Bottom right, 218 x 185 mm
On the surface of it, these look like a great match in terms of size. But the first mould (top left) is much deeper (circa 40 mm) and the plaque is heavier than the rest. The other five plaques are only circa 25 mm deep. As I've proposed above, their shallower depth may account for the much smaller degree of variation in their length and width, i.e. this mould holds its shape well. These plaques are attributed to Carr on the basis of the similarity of their transfers to the large plaques with rounded corners (see my July 23rd post).
Top left, 207 x 180 mm
Top right, 205 x 182 mm
Middle left, 205 x 182 mm
Middle right, 205 x 182 mm
Bottom left, 205 x 182 mm
Bottom right, 206 x 182 mm
So how do these compare with the dimensions of our marked Carr plaque (below), decorated in a similar manner to group 1? Well my apologies to anyone who hoped this could be neatly wrapped up. It is significantly bigger than the plaques in either group.
'Prepare' plaque with impressed mark, 220 x 199 mm
Group 1 average, 215 x 188 mm
Group 2 average, 205 x 182 mm
But that's not to say the plaques above aren't Carr! Expect more posts.
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.