China Verses Made in China.


This is the reason nobody wants these plates any more.

It’s called washing up. Once upon a time people used to stand round after a meal and washing up proved the perfect time to conduct a lot of family business. It didn’t involve eye-to-eye contact yet you were doing something. This meant, in the worst case, you didn’t have to answer until you had a chance to think of how you might avoid what you didn’t want to say.

In the best cases, it was rhythmic and even relaxing. It was, to a degree, the ceremonial end of eating. You then began the rest of the evening.







These plates can’t be put in a dish washer.

Occasionally you see in a second hand shop tragic results of people who inherited Victorian and older plates and didn’t know this. (The last one I saw was a Victorian plate with hand painted flowers, which were botanically correct and carefully observed. The dishwasher probably over several months had scalped the colour and by the time the person noticed it was too late).

I bought eight of these beautiful Victorian plates for $50 at the local antique auction last night. There was one other bidder.

That makes each plate approximately $6.00 each. Even China, I mean the state of ­– can’t match this level of cheapness.

I did a spot of research (thank you Sister Google). They come from the firm which preceded Doulton. It was called Pinder, Bourne & Co and they were a North Staffordshire pottery that specialised in manufacturing earthenware. Their street address was Nile Street Burslem and they were active between 1862-1882.

What happened in 1882 was that the sole proprietor of the pottery approached Henry Doulton to form a partnership. Not a good idea. It didn’t work out, the dispute went into arbitration and for whatever reason, Pinder exited stage left. The next thing you know the company was called Doulton & Co and the rest, as they say, is history.







What do I like about these plates?

They make you feel special.

They have a lovely metallic lustrous sheen. The silver on them is quite shiny. The colour range is quite limited. There is a pleasing terracotta shade.







I also like its mixture of design elements, so typical of the profligate Victorian century which had such an astonishing sense of itself that everything would just keep expanding and multiplying – empires, populations, wealth, happiness. So these happy plates have a cornucopia of flowers, little intertwined rope motifs.

There’s a lot to look at. Probably way too much for people who like minimalism. Hurray! Keep on liking minimalism. It means I can keep on buying plates like this for under seven dollars.

It’s called the economy of aesthetics.



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