The top left plaque below came up at Keys recently. It is unusual in that it has a transfer-printed leaf border and is unlustred. I know of only three others – all shown below. All of them have transfers commonly associated with Sunderland (Wearside) potteries.
However, the bowl below, from United Collections' new page has three of these transfers. We can be pretty sure the bowl is Tyneside because it has a London impressed mark.
So are the leaf-bordered plaques Tyneside or Wearside?
Below I've compared the transfer on the leaf-bordered Mariners' Compass with that on a similar Garrison Pottery (Dixon) plaque from Sunderland. Look at the waves in the second detail. The plaques are very clearly printed from different transfer plates. The Dixon version is titled 'Mariner's Compass' and the leaf-bordered plaque 'Mariners' Compass' – note the position of the apostrophe.
To see how the leaf-bordered plaques compare with the bowl, we need to look more closely at their shared transfers. The bowl on the second row is the one discussed above. Looking at the details in the third column, it is clear they come from different transfer plates. Look at the sails of the ship on the horizon. Also, compare the profile of the edge of the sea, to the right of the canon. The third row shows the other bowl on the United Collections page with a London impressed mark. But interestingly, it also has a different version of the transfer. Note the shading of the grass in the right detail. The final two plaques are attributed to Scott of Southwick (Wearside, i.e. Sunderland). As you might expect, they come from the same transfer plate, but don't match any of the transfers above. So we now have four variations of the transfer. Nobody said this was going to be easy! My guess is that the penultimate plaque, attributed to Scott, is the oldest (c1845), so it seems likely that the other three transfers are copies. But we're still no closer to knowing where the leaf-bordered plaque comes from.
The other transfer I want to look at is the west view of the bridge over the River Wear (transfer 31 in Baker). Some of the photos aren't great, but they serve their purpose. Note the formation of the clouds in the right detail. Yes, they all come from different transfer plates. Even the last two plaques, which are both attributed to Scott of Southwick.
So it is still impossible from the evidence above to say whether the leaf-bordered plaques come from Tyneside or Wearside. Someone out there will have an item with an impressed mark with one of the above transfers. If so, please compare it with the details and let me know if you find an exact match.
I just remembered a jug I have with the Mariners' Arms, and ran downstairs to find it. Unfortunately, we now have a fifth variation of that transfer!
In case anyone was wondering, the 'Sailors Farewell' on the bowl (below left) is different to the version that appears on Dixon plaques (below right). Note the clouds and foliage again.
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.