Thanks to Ian Sharp for providing photos of the willow pattern meat plate below. Big deal, I hear you shrug, I've got a cupboard full of those. With this plate, the excitement is on the back.
Ian told me a couple of years ago that he'd seen the impressed crown mark (which appears on some plaques) used alongside the Fell impressed mark. The plate above has the whole gamut of printed and impressed marks.
So which plaques have this mark? The mark is quite rare and the two below are the only examples I have photos of.
The 'Thou God' transfer also appears on plaques with scalloped corners, like the one second below. Often the corners on these plaques are decorated green, and the central transfer is decorated with pink lustre. Green decoration is a feature of Maling plaques. Maling also known used lustre decoration over (or under?) transfers. However, compare the two details below. The transfer on the Fell plaque (top) is undoubtedly from the same transfer plate. At some point the copper plate became scratched. Two almost parallel scratches run through the letter 'D'. You can faintly see them on the Fell plaque. I have turned up the contrast in PhotoShop. There is also a small nick over the letter 'E' in 'ME'.
These faults replicate on all the plaques below.
So are the plaques with green decoration from Fell? Probably not. Take a look at the plaque below, which is the earliest incarnation of the transfer (c1830). The plaque has the yellow sunburst decoration particular to Maling (see two examples below). Note that this plaque was made pre-scratch. There is a small blemish over the letter 'E' though.
So I guess there are three possibilities: Firstly, all the plaques were made by Fell. This seems to me unlikely. Secondly, all the plaques were made by Maling. In which case, both Maling and Fell used the crown mark. Thirdly, that most of these plaques were made by Maling. At some point around the middle of the century the transfer plates moved to Fell. I favour this third suggestion. By the time the transfer on the Fell plaque was printed, the groves of the scratches on the transfer plate had almost worn to nothing.
I have read in auction catalogues of impressed crown marks on plaques with the following transfers. However, neither of these plaques is marked. If you have a plaque with an impressed crown mark, I'd love for you to get in touch.
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.