About a month ago I wrote a blog piece on plaques with the impressed crown mark. In it, I discussed a 'Thou God' transfer plate with an all-seeing eye that appears to have moved from Maling to Fell. I've often wondered why the plaques like the one on the right below have such deteriorated transfers. Where are the early versions with crisp transfers first off the press? This morning I had a eureka moment remembering the circular plaques with red and black borders (below left). I'm kicking myself for not making the connection before, but the transfers have a blindingly obvious difference: the Maling/Fell version has an all-seeing eye. Could all three transfers below have come from the same copper plate, with the eye being engraved at a later date?
I've put the details in rows so you can click to enlarge and move between them. There are some striking similarities, e.g. the directional shading of the three leaves in the centre of the first detail. But all three plaques suffer from blotting of the transfer in places. The third one is poorly applied and broken up around the eye and 'Thou'.
I've spent so long looking that I'll be squinting for the rest of the weekend. It wasn't until I super-magnified the images of plaque 1 and 2 that I became 100% satisfied that they came from the same transfer plate. If you look hard at the formations of dots on the blurry images below, you'll see they fall in exactly the same patterns on either transfer.
The plaques are certainly all Tyneside. The transfer plate likely started life at Maling c1830. Sometime afterwards, they decided to squeeze in an eye (once you know, you can see that it is too small, and a design afterthought). In the 1840s, the transfer plate became scratched (see my previous post). At some point c1850 the transfer plate moved to Fell. It is astonishing how much you can piece together about life over 150 years ago, just through looking a little harder at the objects over your mantelpiece.
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.