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

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 when 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 thought 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 used 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 than 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 sells 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. 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 photo above the top of this article is 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 cupboards, china cabinets and buffets 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 January Visa bill.

This “Lincoln” turkey platter and 10 matching plates, made by the Bishop & Stonier Pottery Company of England in the late 1890s, brought $5,250 in an eBay auction.

This “Lincoln” turkey platter and 10 matching plates, made by the Bishop & Stonier Pottery Company of England in the late 1890s, brought $5,250 in an eBay auction.

This Ridgeways England platter measures 21 and a half inches across and sold for $1,941 on eBay in 2013.

This Ridgeways England platter measures 21 and a half inches across and sold for $1,941 on eBay in 2013.

Very similar to the Ridgeways platter is this Copeland Spode platter in the No. 12 turkey from the Wild Bird Series. This cobalt transferware platter realized $1,558 in 2015 through eBay.

Very similar to the Ridgeways platter is this Copeland Spode platter in the No. 12 turkey from the Wild Bird Series. This cobalt transferware platter realized $1,558 in 2015 through eBay.


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

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  • Tina White

    I have a Dr. Syntax platter which is blue transfer ware. Any ideas of its value?

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