Childs ABC CATS Plate
LOUIS WAIN Cats and Parrot
Charles Allertons Staffordshire England 1890
This scarce nineteenth century childs transferware ABC plate dates to 1890 or slightly after, a late Victorian antique. It measures 7 3/4 inches diameter, printed English Staffordshire Cobalt Blue and an aesthetic style alphabet border. The art work is unsigned, but is unmistakably in the style of Louis Wain (1860-1939). The plate was made by Allertons, the successor to Charles Allerton & Sons during period of 1890-1912.
It is decorated with a scene with three Louis Wain anthropomorphic cats – a mother cat and two kitten with large eyes -- and a parrot on a perch beside them. Dressed in Wains whimsical style, the cats are standing together in the garden of an English cottage with a lattice fence also typical of Wains geometric backgrounds. A bar of music and melody line for the song `Come into the Garden, Maud' is shown below the cats, lyrics from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's beautiful poem of romantic love, first published in the early 1880s. The plate's border is an acanthus leaf aesthetic stylized trim surrounding an old fashioned alphabet in upper case letters, the completing this rare plate.
The plate is in great condition with no chips cracks or repairs. There is some fine glaze crazing and a stilt mark in the well of the plate, original to the making. The workmanship is haphazard, which is one of the reasons many people collect it...not fine china, and not meant to be; it was made for children and probably considered disposable. The transfers are not aligned neatly, there is runny glaze and little bumps and dips and transfer wrinkles and glazed over edge frits original to the making. The naïve and hasty style adds to the folksy charm.
Plates like this one were used as teaching aids, so children learned the alphabet. Often the scene was a story showing a moral lesson. Illustrations from childrens books were often the source of decorations like this one. Great expression on the faces! Angry mother cat and downcast kittens (whose body language and expressions make them look more upset about being caught than remorseful!) A great addition to any serious collection of early children's wares, for a cat lover, or Louis Wain collector.