This is a set of 11 majolica faience asparagus plates. The maker is the Faiencerie Onnaing, located in northern France during the years of 1821 and 1938. The pottery made majolica ware during the 19th century, circa 1870 to 1900, which effectively dates these plates.
The plates are 9 ½” in diameter.
Each plate has asparagus going across the middle of the plate, with the tips colored in shades of purple and green. One side has the asparagus tips only, with the other side being a well for the sauce, and shaped like a shell. The plate edges are brown, with raised scroll designs to showcase the raised asparagus.
The color shading on each plate is slightly different.
In France, a normal meal on an asparagus plate is several spears of large white asparagus fresh from the garden, steamed, and the asparagus is centered in the middle of the plate. To one side there will be a 2-3 ounce serving of fresh steamed or grilled salmon or fish, a fresh tomato right out of the garden and sliced, and a cold boiled egg sliced. The asparagus is the main part of the meal, and the other food on the plate is to complement the asparagus. In the well is generally a fresh lemon flavored sauce or vinaigrette, which the diner will spoon not only over the asparagus, but also over the fish, tomato and egg. Homemade baguettes are sitting in a bowl or basket to one side, and portions are torn off to sop up the juices on the plate. Dessert is typically a fresh berry or cherry tart.
Three of the plates have flakes or chips around the foot rest edge, the part of the plate that rests on the table. I tried to show what these look like in the last few photos. One plate has a nick only on the foot rest. I think these were probably the plates used the most by the estate, so a total of 4 of the 11 plates; this will be the bottom edge of the plate only, not the plate’s rim edge, and flaws that guests will not notice. A few of the plates have darkening of the glaze on the underside due to age. There are no other chips, nicks, cracks or crazing.
The plates are mostly unmarked. There are some plates with obscure impressed marks and pieces of hand enameled leftover enameling. However the plates are recognizable as being the asparagus plates produced by the Faiencerie Onnaing. You can read more about this pottery online at the Majolica International Society and see a photo of this plate.