The interesting plaque below came up at auction recently. It is titled TEE TOTAL SOCIETY. The article on Teetotalism on Wikipedia states:
One anecdote attributes the origin of the word to a meeting of the Preston Temperance Society in 1832 or 1833. This society was founded by Joseph Livesey, who was to become a leader of the temperance movement and the author of The Pledge: "We agree to abstain from all liquors of an intoxicating quality whether ale, porter, wine or ardent spirits, except as medicine." The story attributes the word to Dicky Turner, a member of the society, who had a stammer, and in a speech said that nothing would do but "tee-tee-total abstinence".
An alternative explanation is that teetotal is simply a reduplication of the 'T' in total (T-total). It is said that as early as 1827 in some Temperance Societies signing a 'T' after one's name signified one's pledge for total abstinence. In England in the 1830s, when the word first entered the lexicon, it was also used in other contexts as an emphasized form of total. In this context, the word is still used, predominantly in the southern United States.
In terms of dating plaques with that subject, either explanation will do. As we'd expect, the transfer appears on plaque forms associated with the 1830s. The plaque above is very similar to the Wesley plaque below, which I've attributed to the Sheriff Hill Pottery.
I felt pretty excited when I remembered a pair of plaques that came up at Anderson and Garland in 2007. Unfortunately, I don't have a clearer image than the scan below. Again, I've attributed the Wesley to Sheriff Hill. The plaque is of the same form, with an inner beaded frame picked out in yellow. But you don't need a better photo to see that the Tee Total transfer is different to the one above. Compare the size of the shaded area under the two figures holding flags. In fact the first Tee Total plaque is a much smaller size (138 x 118 mm) than the three others (165 x 150 mm). The transfer isn't just a trimmed down version of the one on the larger plaque. It appears to have been specially engraved for smaller items. Who knows, it's possible that the large and small versions of the engravings sat side by side on the same transfer plate.
If you own the plaque on the right below, or have one similar, I'd love a better quality image.
So how do the Tee Total transfers compare? The two circular plaques below, although unmarked, are similar to those with the C,C & Co impress. There are some startling differences between the three transfers though. As discussed above, the first plaque has fewer scrolls and less shading under the figures carrying flags (see the first detail – N.B. click on the images to enlarge and to move between them). The scrolls are differently arranged in the second and third plaques. They also have an oval inset with a picture under each figure. The third detail shows the right inset of a man up a ladder lighting a street lamp (?). Perhaps the message is that this isn't a job for anyone who's had a drink or two! In the second transfer the street light has one lamp. In the third transfer it has two. There are also more windows on the detail of the third plaque. Another obvious difference between the transfers is that the words 'TEE TOTAL SOCIETY' are enclosed in a ribbon banner on the first and third plaque (see second detail). Note also the differences between the lettering.
Gratifyingly, I did manage to find three transfers that matched. There are some minor differences, perhaps consistent with re-engraving to restore clarity to a transfer plate worn over time. The first two plaque forms are amongst those I've attributed to Dixon. The third is of a rarer larger size, which I now feel confident about attributing to Dixon also.
There are many more variations of these transfers that appear on children's plates.
I will update the Dixon and Sheriff Hill pages with Tee Total plaques over the next few days. The jury is still out over C, C & Co. Because of similarity in the lustre decoration, I expect the second circular plaque is the C, C & Co version. If you have a marked example, please 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.