Last weekend I discovered another copper transfer plate in the Sunderland Museum. It's an exhibit I'd overlooked before because it is concealed in an unmarked drawer under one of the displays. Like the other in their collection, which I've written about before, it was donated by descendants of the owners of Ball's Deptford Pottery.
The images on the plate are a hotchpotch of armorials, verses, ships and a half-length portrait of Garibaldi. The New Sunderland Bridge opened in 1859, the Agamemnon was caught in a storm in 1858, and the Gauntlet Clipper appeared in the London Illustrated News in 1853, so the plate was engraved after 1859.
Some of these images appear on Garrison Pottery items, but also on items from Scott's. For a long while I assumed that the copper plate had passed from Garrison to Scott's, when the Dixon partnership was disbanded in 1865 (see here). But it's now clear there were two copper plates, with near identical designs.
The first column of images below shows the Scott versions, for comparison with the copper plate in the second column, and the Dixon versions in the third. The 'Scott' Agamemnon (and the Garibaldi) is taken from a bowl, so the transfer appears distorted as it is applied to a curved surface. The 'Manchester Unity' on the bottom left is taken from a mug. All of the other transfers details come from photos of plaques. Click on the images to enlarge them, and to move between them.
The Dixon transfers are finer than those used by Scott (N.B. the lower left, 'Manchester Unity', mug was likely made after the transfer plate had passed from Scott's to Ball's). The Forester's transfers are so dissimilar as to dispel any ideas that the differences might be down to re-engraving of the transfer plate at a later date.
I did find a small dink on the copper plate that shows in the Scott transfers, but not on the Dixon transfer. Take a look at the details from the Gauntlet Clipper below. There is a dark, horizontal scratch that appears in the centre of the copper plate detail, and also on the Scott detail (left). However, there's no sign of it on the Dixon transfer (right).
Attributions would be so much easier if more of these copper plates had survived. It's great news when another plate turns up!
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.