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The Collector’s Minute: Wedgwood American Views Plates

by Mike Wilcox (09/15/10).

Three examples of Wedgwood American View plates depicting the Boston University Charles Hayden Memorial (top) the Bennington Battle Monument (bottom left) and the Alabama State Capitol (bottom right). Wedgwood produced American View plates from 1895 until at least the 1950s.

It might seem strange, but the country that was the largest producer of pottery depicting American heroes of the Revolution, their homes and famous land marks was the one that lost war. From the early 1800s to the 1950s, English potteries churned out thousands of transferware plates depicting scenes of post-Colonial America. The ones we’re most likely to run into today, though, tend to date from the late 19th century, made to order for American wholesalers.

One of the well-known makers of these plates was the famous firm of Wedgwood. American View plates were made by Wedgwood from 1895 until at least the 1950s. One wholesaler of such plates was Jones, McDuffee & Stratton of Boston, which listed themselves as “the largest wholesale and retail crockery, china and glassware establishment in the country.” Catalogs of the company dating back to 1910 list 78 popular titles of these Wedgwood historical plates that could be purchased, but it is estimated that as many as 300 different views were published by Wedgwood.

What makes the Wedgwood plates interesting is that Wedgwood’s company markings are very well documented, and the company also used date codes, which if you can decipher them, quickly dispel stories by vendors that “this plate is 150 years old” at a glance. The Wedgwood factory started marking its wares around 1860 with the date of manufacture with an impressed, three-letter code. The first letter of the code represents the month of manufacture, the second the potter and the last letter signifying the year the piece was made, beginning with 0 for 1860. This code was used with some variations; the series was repeated four times. From 1907 on, in the third series, the first letter for the month is replaced by a “3” and with the fourth series beginning with “A” in 1924 with the numeral “4.” In 1930, the date code was simplified, with the last two digits being the year, for example “3B35” translates to “March, 1935.”

The three plates shown above are typical of these Wedgwood American View plates, depicting the Boston University Charles Hayden Memorial, the Bennington Battle Monument and the Alabama State Capitol. The company mark on all three is the “Wedgwood Etruria England” mark that was used by Wedgwood until 1940.

Compared to their peak of value in the late 1980s to early 1990s, demand for plates of this type has diminished in recent years. In the current market these Wedgwood plates retail in the $50-$120 range depending on the subject depicted.

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

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