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The Antique Turkey Platter: Rarely Used Dish Could Pay for Christmas and then Some

by Mike Wilcox (12/10/13).

This Staffordshire platter depicts the State Arms of Pennsylvania and is an early 19th-century piece by an unknown maker. As it is a very rare example, it sold for $26,000 in 2010.

It’s that time of year where family heirlooms are dragged out of their hiding places in china cabinets and buffets to serve on the table for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners without much though about their value. Year after year, pieces like vegetable bowls, gravy boats and platters are loaded with all the good things that we promise to diet off in the New Year while we have no idea that the platter the turkey is on could have paid for all of Christmas, maybe even one of those new cars with the giant red bows.

Of all the things that can go unnoticed when people think of valuable inheritances, old English Staffordshire meat platters top the list.

Nearly everyone who ever had a grandmother has probably seen these platters on the table with their blue, pink, sepia or black transferware decorations of 19th-century life, historical views and Oriental scenery, but little though is given to their history and value.

“Staffordshire,” over the years, has become a generic term to describe earthenware and ironstone pottery produced in six towns—Hanley, Fenton, Tunstall, Burslem, Stoke and Longton—which now are part of Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England. Pottery production in this area dates back to the 17th century, mainly due to the fact that all the raw materials to produce pottery were available locally, such as clay and coal. During the 1800s, this area had more than 400 potteries and decorating studios, with the bulk of the production made for export all over the world.

This platter is a lot less rare that the one above, but is more in line as to what still turns up on a regular basis. It depicts the Esplanade and Castle Garden, New York, and is made by Ralph Stevenson, circa 1840-50, and often sell at auction in the $1,500-$2,900 range.

Most Staffordshire pieces are fairly well marked by their makers, so documenting their date of production and determining their origins is not terribly difficult. Most guidelines regarding reading the markings on platters are much the same as for other pieces of pottery, such as any indication of a “Country of Origin” marking, such as “England,” means the piece dates from the turn of the 19th century, while pieces with a British design registry mark can date from 1842.

Values for most of the pieces made during the last quarter of the 19th century (1875-1900) are not mind boggling; most will sell at auction for less than $500. But some of the earlier platters depicting historical scenes are highly valuable.

The first photo shows a Staffordshire platter that depicts the State Arms of Pennsylvania and is an early 19th-century piece by an unknown maker. As it is a very rare example, it sold for $26,000 in 2010. The next photo features a platter that is a lot less rare, but is more in line as to what still turns up on a regular basis in cupboard, china cabinets and buffetts all over the country. It depicts the Esplanade and Castle Garden, New York, and is made by Ralph Stevenson, circa 1840-50. Platters like this one often sell at auction in the $1,500-$2,900 range, which could make a big dent in the Visa bill in January.


Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.

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4 Responses to “The Antique Turkey Platter: Rarely Used Dish Could Pay for Christmas and then Some”

  1. Cynthia says:

    Nice article. The examples shown are really beautiful, but if one is patient, some beautiful pieces can be found at estate sales, thrift/antique shops and even garage sales. Half the fun is in the researching the make/year/history of what you find. For anyone who is interested in collecting transferware, check out the website: http://www.nancysdailydish.net. Nancy writes about the topic and sells some as well.

  2. Thea Smith says:

    I have a Turkey platter that is a bit different. It is a Kellogg’s Cornflake one with a picture of “Cornelius” in the center and Kellogg’s Cornflakes around the rim. I have had it for many years and probably got it at either a church sale, garage sale or thrift store. Have no idea of its “value” but we enjoy it every time we have turkey.

  3. Mike Wilcox Mike Wilcox says:

    That one has really caught my interest, I’m going to have to check that one out, do you have an image of it for us?

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