This big plate is one of two stars of Missouri Pacific Railroad chinaware sought after by discriminating collectors. Highlighting a gorgeous, full-color portrait of the sleek diesel engine number 7031, this is the "State Capitols - Service" pattern that the railroad debuted in 1949 and last purchased in 1961. Around the rim are full color cameos of the capitol building of each state the MoPac traveled through -- note, Missouri is at the very top.
This updated version was a follow-up to the earlier "State Flowers - Service" a similar design that had a full-color steam engine portrait surrounded by floral sprays from each state on the MoPac route. The State Flowers plates are much commoner and easier to find than the diesels.
At 10.5 inches across, service plates were luxurious eye candy welcoming onboard passengers to their tables -- once diners were seated, the big plates would be whisked away, with standard chinaware used for actually serving the meal.
This plate is in pristine condition. We cannot find anything wrong. There may be a very few, if any, light marks on the top but no damage from utensils or stacking. The artwork is flawless, amazingly sharp and detailed. Note the description below the engine, "Route of the Eagles." The gold is perfect.
The back marking is correct: Syracuse China above a red banner enhancing the red Missouri Pacific Lines buzzsaw logo. There is no date code in this mark but it would have to have been made during the short 12-year period between 1949 and 1961.
In "The Official Guide to Railroad Dining Car China" author McIntyre gives this pattern a 4+ out of a possible 5 for rarity and collector value. You will not find a better specimen.