Antique blue and white pearlware soup plate or broadly brimmed bowl (see Photo 9) by the Davenport pottery (Longport, Staffordshire) with a transfer printed pattern known as the ‘Fisherman and Woman with basket’ (see A.W. Coysh and R.K. Henrywood’s Dictionary of Blue and White Printed Pottery 1780-1880 (Volume II edition 1993B, pg 83, also see Coysh and Henrywood’s Dictionary of Blue and White Printed Pottery 1780-1880 Volume I edition 1993A: pp 137-138). The motif on this plate is one version of several used to decorate vessels in dinner, tableware and dessert services under Davenport’s Fisherman series (see Photos 1 to 9). Examples of the Fisherman series are comparatively scarce today according to collectors who specialize in blue printed Davenport wares (see T.A. Lockett’s ‘Davenport Pottery and Porcelain’ published by Newton Abbot in 1972: pp. 25-27). This is probably because the series was not in high demand and was likely in production for 6 years or so at best between about 1812 to 1818, hence the c1815 mid-date.
This vessel is called a soup plate because it has a deeper well than the standard dinner plate of the period. And because it also has a broad and gently sloping marly surrounding its well, this vessel is also not simply a bowl. The rim pattern on this soup plate has eight small indents that create gently arcing broad lobes that repeat. Octagonal rim outlines with eight gently curving lobes defined by notches occurred first on Chinese export wares of the early to mid 1700s. By about 1790, this octagonal rim form was used on underglaze blue printed pearlware plates and continued to be a popular plate form up to almost 1850. In the center of base on the back of the plate offered here is an impressed anchor with ‘Davenport’ set in an arc over it (see Photo 8). Shortly after 1815, the pottery’s name was impressed in all capital letters. Davenport
Each Fisherman series print contains four major elements that are repeated while certain internal smaller parts change. First, the outer border pattern ringing each scene is the same and is composed of chevrons and medallions (see Photos 1 and 5). Second, at center of each printed scene are the partial remains of a large building in partial ruin with some walls and structural parts collapsed (Photo 2). These ruins change with about a dozen different collapsed structures known to date. Third, there is a river flowing in front of the building, which, of course, also has the fisherman rendered nearby and pursuing some type of activity (see Photo 3). The particular activity that engages the fisherman differs widely from standing on the shore and talking while fishing to fishing from a boat or casually sitting on the ground with a fishing pole in his hands. Fourth, trees, rocks and bushes surround the entire scene and fill the remaining areas between the inner marly and the central elements (see Photo 1).
In comparison to other blue printed pearlware services of the early 1800s, Davenport’s Fisherman series offered an innovative design with many elements remaining essentially the same while the architectural ruins at the very center of the scene changed and the activities of the fisherman and his other cast of characters differed widely. But because the people are comparatively small and scattered about the scenes, these differences do not always stand out (see Photos 2 and 3). And the end result might be viewed as an early version of ‘where’s Waldo’ with the fisherman and his associates being Waldos and locating all of them can sometimes be challenging. Of five different printed examples I’ve seen of the Fisherman series, one has one human in the scene, one has three people depicted, two have four persons and the plate listed here has five people scattered among the scenery (see Photos 2 and 3). Consequently, the plate offered here just might display the most people depicted in a single Fisherman scene, however one would still need to review all Fisherman series scenes to confirm this as fact. Coysh and Henrywood offer names for 11 different Fisherman series prints and so far, I have studied only five of them (See Coysh and Henrywood 1993A:137-138; Coysh and Henrywood 1993B:83).
Coysh and Henrywood (ibid. pg 83) note that the Fisherman series was in production by Davenport by 1812 when Richard Beech of Staffordshire purchased a dinner service in this pattern for a special family celebration. The service stayed with the family for over 100 years until descendants decided to sell part of it in 1935. In that year, 161 pieces from the service were sold at auction, however, this still left a small selection of vessels with family members that were subsequently photographed and described in an article by authored Geoffrey Masefield and published in ‘Country Life’ in October, 1961 (ibid. pg 83). All told, the original service would have had over 200 vessels when purchased by the Beech family back in 1812. The portion sold in 1935 was listed as having only 12 soup plates as opposed to 42 dinner plates suggesting that either the family kept a few more of the soup plates or that the original set itself came with a limited number of soups compared to dinner plates or muffins. The 1935 auction also listed that 35 muffin plates were sold. A muffin plate is the smallest plate produced under common flatware categories when excluding cup plates and toys. A muffin generally had a diameter between 6 and 8 inches across.
Finally, the overall soft medium blue hue of the print on this plate is accented by some areas in darker blue and others in light blue in order to capture perspective and distance (see Photo 3). The copper plate engraving methods employed to capture the different hues likely involved some acid etching to produce the soft infilling where no harsh line engraving or stippling occur (see Photos 2 an 3). The final effect is striking and captures perspective (Photo 3). So if you are looking for an antique Davenport pearlware plate in superb condition, then make sure you seriously consider this dish while it is still available. And as always, this Davenport plate also comes with my Docs Antiques 100% satisfaction guarantee or you may return it using my return policy (see complete Return Policy details farther below). You also have the option to ask for a customized lay-away plan for purchasing this item (and others when combining orders) by simply requesting the terms you wish to use and then let Doc take care of setting it up and combining any items together as desired (payment installments may be modified at any time should the unexpected ever arise, just let me know by email and I’ll change the due dates).
SIZE & CONDITION: This soup plate stands about 1 1/2 inches tall along its outermost edge, has a marly width of about 1 1/2 inches, and has a maximum diameter of about 9 3/4 inches across. It weighs a little over 3/4 lbs empty and sits on a flat base with no foot ring that has a diameter of about 5 3/8 inches (final shipping weight is estimated between 2 and 2.5 lbs). This soup plate is in excellent condition with no major production defects and no chips, hairlines, stains, deep scratches, repairs or restoration. An example in better condition than the plate offered here could only be obtained by traveling back in time some 203 years to Staffordshire and taking it right out of the Davenport kiln yourself after all had cooled down. Of course, if the buyer is not completely satisfied with this example, then she/he may return this plate for a refund (see our complete return policy for all details as stated below).
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