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CHILDREN'S GIFT PLATES
Children's plates were not made in so many different patterns. Most of the plates are later in date, and the majority of them illustrate a story or maxim. A few early ones are found with illustrations of mother and child, but the popular plates are the alphabet type which have become increasingly popular with collectors the last few years. These white earthenware plates are decorated with transfer prints which are illuminated with crude splashes of hand coloring. The borders are usually embossed with the letters of the alphabet, hence the popular name of ABC plates.
These plates were made between 1820 and 1860, and reproductions were made even later. The transfers are in black, brown, green, red, or blue, and the hand coloring is usually in red, yellow, green, and orange. Besides the alphabet, dots, scrolls, embossed daisy, lily-of-the-valley, or rose borders are used, as well as the rarer embossed swan and flower border. These plates have little aesthetic value, and their chief interest for the collector lies in the transfer scenes of American life in Victorian days. One series portrays American sports, including baseball, while another series is called "Our Early Days," and depicts scenes in a child's everyday life, such as "Half Holiday" and "The Playground," which have ABC borders. Another series includes Robinson Crusoe scenes with such subjects as "Crusoe Viewing the Island," "Crusoe at Work," and "Crusoe Milking." This series has ABC embossed borders. One of the most sought-after series is that showing Franklin's maxims from Poor Richard's Alynanack. The border on this series is embossed wheat and rose, or there may be a raised rosette border which is sometimes colored. All these designs were made by J. R G. Meakin and various other manufacturers. Perhaps the rarest were made by Leeds Pottery in about 1820. They made a series with Franklin's maxims and also made plates with transfer-printed hymns. These are much earlier than those by Meakin, although Meakin and.Clews made them originally in the first.third of the 19th century. Most of these plates are unmarked. The Meakin mark, when used, was stamped in the ware and also printed in black: "J.& G. Meakin."
Some of the maxims found on these plates are: "Three removes are as bad as a fire. A rolling stone gathers no moss." Wheat and rose on ABC border, or an embossed daisy border on an octagonal plate.
"Keep the shop and the shop will keep thee." ABC border. "It is easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follows.
Raised scroll border. "Now I have a sheep and a cow, everyone bids me good morrow" Raised basket-weave border.
Another group of children's ware is printed in dark blue and has borders of raised fruits, flowers, and shells. Among the maxims to be found on these are the following:
"The used key is always bright"; "If you would know the value of money try to borrow some"; "Many a little makes a mickle"; "No pain without pain"; "The eye of the master does more work than both his hands." Different makers used different pictures to illustrate the same maxim.
A rare series was that printed with scenes from Uncle Tom's CabM. These include Uncle Tom at Home, Eva and Topsy, the Death of Uncle Tom, and other familiar episodes. They have embossed daisy borders. There is a group of children's plates with the center printed with different kinds of animals. These have embossed ABC borders and some are marked "Win Adams & Co." Still another group with ABC borders has scenes from nursery rhymes such as "Little Boy Blue" and "There was a crooked man." One series of plates has large letters of the alphabet and embossed daisy borders. Examples of these read "B is for ball" and "J is for June." American cities are the subject matter for a series which includes Philadelphia buildings, Manhattan Beach, and Plymouth Rock Monument. These have raised ABC borders.
R. & J. Clews of Cobridge made a series of plates illustrating such moral symbols as Industry, Temperance, and Knowledge. Other plates with alphabet borders include the Village Blacksmith, the Arrival of Gen. McClellan, and a transfer of a Dutch boy and girl with an alphabet in sign language. This last plate is marked "H. Aynsley & Co., Longton," with an English registry mark.
Among the rarer gift plates for children are those made by the Cambrian Pottery at Swansea between 1831 and 1850. These had molded borders of flowers and swans with a line of gilt on the rim. Several plates illus trate the "Ages of Alan" and one plate, "The Cruel Boy," shows a boy tying a can to a cat's tail. The plate has an embossed border of roses, and the scene is in pink transfer with hand coloring in pink, green, and yellow. Another Swansea plate has the following religious verse in brown transfer:
The child that longs to see my face Is sure my love to gain And those that early seek my face, Shall never seek in vain.
Several other plates should be considered here, not perhaps as children's giftware, but because they have the same embossed borders, and their center decoration is transfer with splashes of hand coloring. One of these is the well-known Millenium plate showing Christ Rising from the Dead. This is made with a cauliflower border by J.& G. Meakin who also made a similar plate with the "History of Joseph." The Millenium plate was also made with embossed border of lilies of the valley, wheat, and tulips.
A plate with a portrait of Queen Charlotte printed and colored by hand and an embossed border of flowers was made by Ralph Stevenson at Cobridge in about 1830. He also made a plate with a picture of a woman and child and the inscription "Who ran to help me when I fell, and would some pretty story tell or kiss the place to make it well-my mother." The border is of roses and leaves. Another popular plate shows a transfer portrait of Wesley. The border on this plate is embossed flower sprays of various colors together with luster. A verse called "Grace at Meal" decorates the center of another plate, which has a border similar to the Weslev plate. Other plates have transfers of various colors with such inscriptions as "A reward for diligence." The inscriptions are in black, orange. purple. and other colors, and have gold or silver luster bands. The black transfer of the reclining mother and child and the "Peacock at Home" have similar luster bands. The mother and child plate was made at Leeds Pottery. Plates with "The Sower," "The Plowman," and similar scenes with embossed and colored rose and daisy borders were also made at about the same time. Many of these scenes on children's plates were also made in cup plates as well.
Besides the potteries already mentioned, makers of children's transferprinted plates were Goodwins & Harris; Elsmore & Forster; Malkin, Edge & Company; H. Aynsley & Company; and various potteries in Scotland.