10" medium-blue transfer decorated earthenware plate, made by J & W Ridgway of Shelton, Hanley, Staffordshire, England. The plate is one of the "Beauties of America" series, and the subject of the design on this piece is the City Hall of New York.
New York City Hall, really the city's third, is the oldest building of its kind (in the United States) still in use for its original purpose. It was built in 1811 and opened in 1812. City Hall was still quite new when table wares were made in this pattern, between about 1814 and 1830 -- the years when John & William Ridgway's pottery was in operation. Much of the factory's production, including this plate, was intended for the American market.
The printed mark on the back of the plate includes the names of the series, pattern and maker: "Beauties of America" can be read above a scrolled cartouche containing the subject title, "City Hall / New York." The maker's name, "J & W Ridgway," appears immediately below the cartouche. On the back of the rim there appears to be a faint printed mark, "10," perhaps identifying the size. (Although plates in this pattern are often listed as 10", the actual measurement is between 9-7/8" and 10".)
Condition: good for its age although well used, with no chips or repairs that we have been able to find. There are a few edge flakes in the glaze (or "flea bites"); and there are some of the common imperfections found in early 19th Century Staffordshire, including small heat separations and stilt marks. There are a few light knife scratches in the glaze on the front. There is fine crazing in the glaze over the whole piece. The clay body is moderately stained on the reverse, particularly in the crazed surface, but the ceramic is lighter in appearance on the front side.
A nice example of American Historical Staffordshire.
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