It's not a perfect analogy, but think about the way that novels are published. When a book is new and in vogue, it is released in a hardback edition of a few thousand: expensive to print, with a quality binding, which the publisher can charge a premium for. The market for hardbacks is relatively small, so when the initial excitement surrounding the book is over, it has to compete in a mass market, and the publisher releases it as a cheap paperback in editions of tens or even hundreds of thousands. Now think about the Moore ship plaques of the 1850s: topical, lightly potted, carefully decorated, produced in small numbers... You get the picture. A similar shift in strategy might explain why there are so many more brown-bordered ship plaques than early Moore-impressed examples.
By the 1860s pink lustre was becoming old fashioned - it had been around for decades. There was stiff price competition from the more technologically advanced Staffordshire potteries. The advancement of railway networks meant that Staffordshire factories could compete in the same local market. It's no coincidence that around this time (1865) the Garrison Pottery folded after a long period of decline. The Galloway and Atkinson partnership, at the Albion Pottery on Tyneside, barely lasted a year (1864). It was a hard time for North Eastern potters. Baker reports that Moore's too, after a change of ownership in 1861, had to reinvent itself. A manager called Ralph Seddon from Staffordshire was appointed, and 'on his advice the works were largely rebuilt and equipped with modern machinery'. Between 1866 and 1872 the pottery was reported to be the largest on Wearside. Operating at full capacity, Moore's could have employed up to 250 hands, although was reported to have 180 during this period, whereas Scott's employed about 150 (Baker).
It was during Moore's period of expansion that the brown-bordered plaques were made in huge numbers. So why is generally assumed they were made by Scott? Isn't it equally possible that the ship plaques continued to be made by Moore? The main argument against this is that the transfers frequently appear on Scott bowls and jugs. But as I never tire of repeating, records show that Scott supplied Moore with plain earthenware for decoration (I've asked the Sunderland Museum if these records are dated, but as yet have not heard anything). The other argument is that the 1860s' brown-bordered plaques look nothing like marked Moore plaques. The late brown-bordered plaques (below right) do, however, have a more than passing resemblance to earlier plaques attributed to Scott (below left). The earlier plaques are, however, slightly smaller and more finely potted.
- the ship transfer plates moved to Scott; or
- Moore decorated plain earthenware for Scott with ship transfers; or
- the ship transfer plates moved to Sheepfolds, who decorated wares for both Moore and Scott with ship transfers, while turning out glass rolling pins on the side.
The ship transfer plates moved to Scott
This is possible, but I haven't found any real evidence for it yet. If Scott held the transfer plates, what was Moore's part in this division of labour? There's no record I'm aware of that Moore sent earthenware to Scott for decoration; records show movement of pottery in the other direction. But, to throw in a cliche, perhaps there's no smoke without fire. The received wisdom that Scott made the brown-bordered ship plaques must have some basis in fact for the idea to have established such a strong hold. The pottery was big enough to have produced plaques in large numbers, and also went through a period of modernisation (although it is less clear from Baker when).
Moore decorated plain earthenware for Scott with ship transfers
This seems logical at present. But a clearer idea of the dates that Scott supplied Moore with earthenware would need to be established. We know that by the mid 1860s, Moore's was the larger pottery, so we might expect it to have had the additional capacity to cope with decorating Scott's wares. The plaques above show that Moore was decorating objects in similar style to the brown-bordered plaques as early as the 1850s. And, looking back at the late group 1 'Scott' transfers in my previous post, the plaques that Scott appears to have been making in the 1860s were of a higher quality than the brown-bordered plaques. Although it is possible that Scott made both quality wares and cheaper wares to feed two different markets (this might account for why the transfer plates of the two groups remained separate).
The ship transfer plates moved to Sheepfolds, who decorated wares for both Moore and Scott with ship transfers, while turning out glass rolling pins on the side
This is Norman Lowe's theory, and why not? We know that Sheepfolds made glass rolling pins, and there are plentiful examples of glass rolling pins with the ship transfers. However, some of the other transfers that appear on the rolling pins, 'Love and be happy' for instance, are more closely associated with the orange-lustre period of the 1870s. I think that Sheepfolds is a strong contender to have decorated the later, orange ship plaques from both Moore and Scott. But as for the brown-bordered plaques of the 1860s, I'm not so sure.
So as ever there's no clear answer. A wider study of Scott- and Moore-marked wares might add to the debate.