ANTIQUE first edition plaque by Arthur Osborne copyright 1906, fully marked and signed. Original brass eyelets. This plaque has been carefully stored in a country cottage for decades and not only is it in fine condition, it is a moving portrait of venerated saint and martyr, Thomas Becket.
Arthur Osborne was a well-travelled and successful Victorian designer when he founded the Osborne Ivorex Company in 1898, aged 43, in Kent England. His company manufactured three-dimensional plaques and other decorative plaster of paris items for tourists. It was so successful that it continued until 1965, when W. H. Bossons bought the assets and continued production until 1997. Osborne originals are identified by several markings, notably the 'AO' mark of Arthur Osborne (not used by Bossons). This can be seen on the Becket plaque in the top right quadrant beside his face. This plaque also has the original inscribed mark on the back: 'A. Osborne 1906 copyright'.
Most Osborne plaques were rectangular. This plaque is the rarer five-sided shape, of which there are 14 known subjects (out of a range exceeding 850). Carved and moulded in deep relief, it measures 5.75"H x 4.1"W x 5/8"D. Excellent condition: no chips or surface damage, no repairs, slight wear on back from hanging wire, since removed. Original brass fittings. A stunning collector's piece. (Last picture shows matching plaque of Geoffrey Chaucer, listed separately.)
METHOD: I was curious to know how these plaques were made. (An excellent web site called 'Ivorex' provides full details.) Arthur Osborne created the highly detailed master plaques himself in clay. His models were then used to create gelatin moulds into which the finest plaster of paris was poured and left to set. Sometimes an ochre coloured pigment was added to the white plaster. After setting, the moulds were air dried and hand painted in watercolour by female artisans in Faversham, Kent. Then the plaques were dipped in hot paraffin wax for their characteristic ivory-like finish and hand buffed to a shine. Brass eyelet rings and cords were added for hanging and they were packed for shipping, sometimes in custom made cardboard boxes that would be very collectible today. Some plaques were factory-mounted with black lacquered frames and an optional dark velvet slip, with or without glass.
THOMAS BECKET 1119-1170 was Archbishop of Canterbury, England, from 1162 until his murder in 1170. He engaged in conflict with King Henry II over the rights and privileges of the Catholic Church and was murdered at the king's behest in Canterbury Cathedral. Soon after his death he was canonized by Pope Alexander III and he is equally venerated in the Anglican Communion. (Wikipedia)
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