To the naked eye, you might think these are just doll house or miniature plates, when in fact they are a very important part of advertising history. Each disc served an important advertising role with one of the most appealing patterns, the willow pattern. I have to admit, for the longest time, I just wanted to own one of these beauties.
These were not widely manufactured, but if I may say so it was pretty smart to create an advertising piece that could be displayed in someone’s home on a shelf or in a cabinet for everyone to see. Most advertising of the time was cardboard and most never survived the wear and tear.
Lets start with Hughes & Manchester Co. Providence Rhode Island. I have seen these discs in various colors, blue, green, red and brown. I have only been able to get my hands on the red one. I don’t often see these with anything on the back side of them. I did find this company sold various manufacturers china wares as evidenced by the next picture.
Next up lets look at Abram French & Co from Boston! Dating from 1869 – 1884 is this miniature Abram French & co. advertising plate. Abram French and Co. was a retailer of fine china and glassware in Boston from 1860 – 1902. The company was located on the corner of Franklin and Devonshire st. , Boston and changed their name to Abram French & co. in 1869. The company experienced a significant fire in 1885, destroying most of their current inventory. They never fully recovered and closed their doors in 1902.
Next up is E. Kirby’s Stores for China & Glass 63 Penge Road South Norwood. Investigation tells me this is in London. Unfortunately I was unable to find information related to this company or location. I am guessing the plate says it all. I was able to find a picture of what it may have looked like back in the day from an old post card. I believe the location to be on the right side where the covered carriage is sitting. Current pictures show the building is no longer attached to adjoining buildings.
Next up is John Mortlock – The Pottery Galleries Oxford & Orchard St. Portman Square W. I would not guess as to who Mr. Naracott was but he must have been one important fellow to have this printed on the back of this advertising disc. Maybe he was a salesman or high volume purchaser.
The Dictionary of Victorian London states: IN OXFORD STREET and ORCHARD STREET, W., are situated the famous and Historical OLD POTTERY GALLERIES OF MORTLOCK’S. Established so far back as the middle of the last century, they have continued uninterruptedly in direct line of the same family: JOHN MORTLOCK, 1746; WILLIAM MORTLOCK, 1777; JOHN and WILLIAM MORTLOCK, 1801; JOHN MORTLOCK, 1812; JOHN MORTLOCK and SIMON STURGES, 1835; JOHN MORTLOCK, 1840; JOHN MORTLOCK, JUNE., 1872. “Stet fortuna domus.“
The productions of the firm have deservedly acquired a world-wide reputation. The Galleries are constantly honoured with visits from Members of the Royal Family, and Representatives of other European Courts, and are the favourite resort for the élite of Society. American visitors also patronize the Galleries in large numbers. Probably in no other country in Europe is such a Magnificent Collection of Pottery, Porcelain, and Glass to be seen, the most eminent fabricants of the world being represented. Mortlock’s Designs, Models, and Colourings are chiefly registered, and distinguished by the most refined taste and artistic merit. To avoid their Designs, &c., being copied by inferior makers a Catalogue is not published, but Samples sent, carriage paid to all parts.
Mortlock’s have never aimed at “Cheapness, but supply Dinner Services from 21s. and upwards, and other services at equally moderate prices.-ADVERTISEMENT.
Next up is Richard Stanway from Newcastle 1879. I don’t know much about this little disc, but if I recall, it was maybe a tailor shop. This piece is a little different than others in that it has a hole on the top, as if you could wear it as a necklace or it would be hung somewhere or something. I can see me wearing a 2+ inch disc on my neck looking like a willow rapper…not so much, but I love it none the less!
Next is an advertising disc with nothing at all printed in the center. This tells me various pottery manufacturers utilized these during the time as an advertising piece. I would guess one of the companies they sold pottery for mass produced these items and added the store front’s name to them in an effort to bolster sales.
Last but not least is a tiny little disk with the blue willow border and a log cabin in the middle.
This little plate is just over the size of a fifty cent piece! It is Bone China and marked Jon Roth England. It is hand engraved by Graphaprint in Staffordshire England. The picture on the front is of the Joseph Spaulding House built in 1828 in Nantucket Rhode Island.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Spaulding_House pictured below is a current picture:
I will close out by saying there are a few of these pieces pictured in the Willow Ware Ceramics in Chinese Tradition book by Leslie Bockol. On page 71! The value associated is approximately $125 each.
Happy Hunting Willowers!