A small (3 3/4” in diameter) black transfer plate titled “Miss F. Kemble as Belvidera”, dating c. 1830-1834. The “F. Kemble” shown on the plate is Frances Anne (Fanny) Kemble, a very popular British Actress of the 1830 period (“Belvidera” was one of her most famous roles). But acting was not going to be Ms. Kemble’s legacy: in 1838 she married a Georgia Plantation Owner, Pearce Mease Butler, and when she moved to his plantation home, she was horrified by the concept and practice of slavery. She began keeping a journal, later published as The Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation, documenting the harsh treatment of slaves and, especially, the plight of slave women. When her Journal was published in 1863, it became a rallying point for American Abolitionists and is credited with keeping the British neutral during the Civil War (as opposed to entering the conflict on the side of the Confederacy). Today, her writing remains as the ONLY first hand account by an Abolitionist of the evils of slavery and the plight of slave women, and as such, it is an important tool for social historians.
This little plate is in very fine condition: clean and free of chips, cracks, restorations, etc. There are no maker’s marks, but given its similarity in appearance to other small plates (not sure if this was a cup plate, a child’s toy plate or a souvenir plate) it might have been made by John Thompson of Glasgow. A rare and desirable (once you know about the Abolitionist Connection) piece of historical pottery.
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