Staffordshire Style

English ceramics with Eastern influences

courtesy photo

What a terrific example of an Aesthetic Movement Staffordshire plate! The Aesthetic Movement started in late-19th-century England and its focus was celebrating the arts. In the realm of the decorative arts, Aesthetic Movement themes laden with natural motifs and Eastern influences were predominant, as exemplified in the style of your ceramic.

 Your plate was made in Staffordshire, England, and its design was registered on August 27, 1881. We know this as it is stamped with an English Registered Design Mark, a system introduced in 1839 in Britain to protect designs such as a copyright. These diamond-shaped marks stamped on the back of ceramic wares have a series of numbers and letters corresponding to date and type. These diamond-shaped marks ended in 1883, but the Registry in England continued with pieces marked with an Rd and a corresponding number. Thus, we know that your plate was made sometime between August 27, 1881 and 1883.

Staffordshire was a region where most of England’s ceramics were produced. The region was rich with clay that was plentiful and easily obtained as it was right at the top of the land’s surface. It was so readily available that potters could dig it right from the roads and hence the term “pot hole” was created.

Famous potters and their companies developed from this region and some still exist today, including the notable Wedgwood, Spode and Royal Doulton manufacturers. In the 19th century, there were hundreds of ceramic companies in Staffordshire. Your plate was made by Gildea and Walker Potteries and is in the Melbourne pattern. The pattern was transfer-decorated and hand-colored. Transfer decoration is essentially a decal that is applied to the ceramic and then glazed. These transfer decorations enabled intricate and fanciful patterns that were consistent and far less expensive to produce than hand-painted wares. Often, artisans would hand paint details to enhance the design and add color.

The Melbourne pattern by Gildea and Walker is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is noted for its fantastic naturalistic design.

Prices on English ceramics are currently lower than usual, so it is a great time to start collecting. We have lots of English ceramics at our shop starting at only a few dollars to rare pieces for many thousands. I would estimate your Staffordshire plate at $75.

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