The smaller differences are interesting in as much as they hint at the way that plaques were produced. Anthony Scott of Southwick had several near-identical copper plates made up for his more commercial transfers (see the Scott page for photographs of two plates used to generate John Wesley transfers). Transfer plates wore out, and sometimes needed repair or replacement. But Scott apparently used his plates side by side to increase production, or perhaps to allow production of items with the same transfer at different locations within his factory. N.B. designs were first printed onto tissue paper, which had to be applied to pottery while the ink was still wet, so the copper transfer plates would have been kept close to the area of production.
The small differences of engraving, and the occasional scratches or dinks in the copper, allow us to trace with certainty the movement of the transfer plate from one pottery to another, e.g. when a pottery closed.
Up until now, I had identified 4 near-identical variations of the same 'Prepare to meet thy god' transfer used by Scott, and the neighbouring Moore & Co factory (they often shared transfers). But I hinted that there may be a fifth, confirmation of which has come through this plaque, currently listed on eBay.
There are a whole series of transfers shared by the two potteries (click here to read about some of them). But in each case, the copper plates must have started work at either one pottery or the other. These small differences help us untangle which pottery was making what, and when. I will update the 'Prepare to meet thy god' page when I get a second.
Thanks to Georgina at Swan Antiques for providing the photo of their plaque on eBay.