I couldn't resist posting these two columns of plaques. On the left are brown-bordered plaques attributed to Scott of Southwick. On the right are plaques with a distinctive dark pink inner border, associated with Moore & Co's neighbouring Wear Pottery. The Duke of Wellington (third plaque down) has a Moore & Co impressed mark. The subjects relate to the Crimean period (c1853–1856) and just after (the last ship, The Great Eastern, was launched in 1858). As far as I can tell, despite coming from different potteries, each pair is printed from the same transfer plate.
So which set came first? Or were they both produced at the same time? Records show that Scott supplied Moore's Wear Pottery with earthenware, 'presumably plain for decoration' (Baker). But the above transfers are more usually associated with Scott than Moore. For the common ships, e.g. The Great Eastern Steamship or Victoria and Albert Yacht, I've perhaps seen as many as 15 Scott versions for every 1 Moore & Co. The transfers appear on other Scott items, e.g. bowls (see Baker page 51 for an example). I can't remember seeing them on Moore & Co jugs or bowls.
We know that these transfers were used at least into the 1860s when orange lustre first appeared. On the left below is a shape of plaque associated with Scott, and on the right a plaque shape associated with Moore & Co.
There is a third contender for decorating these plaques. Thanks to Norman Lowe for supplying photos of the blue rolling pin below. He wonders whether Moore and Scott sent their items to be decorated at the nearby Sheepfolds Warehouse, Monkwearmouth, operated by Thomas Snowball. Sheepfolds made their money decorating items of plain earthenware. Baker writes that they also had a sideline in decorating glass rolling pins and selling them cheaply to sailors.
Take a look at the photos below. The transfers on the rolling pin also appear on Scott and Moore plaques. It is near impossible for me to prove from photos, however, that they came from the same transfer plates.
But as always, this theory raises more questions than it answers. Many of the the transfers found on rolling pins never appear on plaques. I have a glass rolling pin with a ship from the series above, and the motto 'Love and be Happy'. I'd love to find this transfer on a plaque. (Also, if you have a pink Moore & Co La Bretagne, please speak up. I've never yet seen one.)
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.