Reshaping of English Dinner Plates and Serving Plates

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MGArgent
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Re: Reshaping of English Dinner Plates and Serving Plates

Postby MGArgent » Thu Feb 11, 2021 11:13 pm

Thanks Trev,

Even though we haven't been able to draw any concrete conclusions, I appreciate that you had a look.

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Re: Reshaping of English Dinner Plates and Serving Plates

Postby MGArgent » Fri Feb 12, 2021 1:43 am

This next post is just me having a bit of fun with some supplementary info I found today.

If it can ever be validated that this plate was originally of plain form, it opens up an interesting possibility.

According to a previous post by Silvermakersmarks, the date mark on this plate would have been in use at the assay office between 29 May 1704 until 28 May 1705.

There is a Jewel Office warrant book that documents an order in January 1705 for 32 plain dishes for the Queen's service:

Jewel Office Warrant Book: January 1705, 26-31
26 January 1705:
Subscription by Treasurer Godolphin for the execution of a Lord Chamberlain's warrant of the 8th inst. to the Master of the Jewel House to make 9 new covers for dishes and 32 plain dishes for the Queen's service at the request of the Board of Greencloth : to an estimate of 260l. Warrants not Relating to Money XVIII, p. 403.

This can likely be interpreted as an order for 32 plain silver dinner plates (as opposed to meat serving dishes, etc.). An order of this size could have been for replacing missing/damaged plates and/or to extend the Queen's service for accommodating additional guests.

As we have previously established, dinner plates were likely sent to the assay office as flat discs and completed upon return to the silversmith. The date of the order, 26 January, would have allowed just over 4 months for the Royal goldsmiths to deliver 32 flat discs to the assay office (before 28 May 1705) for the Queen's plates to have received the same date marks.

Now for some back of the napkin math:

The available warrant books record that between 26 March 1704 and 25 December 1705 (around the time this date mark was in use), approximately 14,000 to 15,000 ounces of new white plate was delivered to the Jewel Office. This would have been comprised of candlesticks, serving dishes, dinner plates, flatware, etc. most of which would have been designated as indenture plate.

Assume that nearly half, or 6,912 ounces was comprised entirely of plain dinner plates (dinner plates with gadrooned or molded borders would be separate to this allocation). With an average weight of 18 ounces per plate, you arrive at a total of 384 plain dinner plates.

If 32 of the 384 plain dinner plates are designated to the Queen's service, this would give 1 in 12 odds that the plate was the personal property of Queen Anne.

Obviously if the Queen's 32 plain dinner plates with 1704-1705 date mark are already accounted for in a museum or collection then the probability quickly drops to zero.

Calendar of Treasury Books, Volume 19, 1704-1705
Calendar of Treasury Books, Volume 20, 1705-1706

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Re: Reshaping of English Dinner Plates and Serving Plates

Postby MGArgent » Sun Feb 14, 2021 2:05 am

As per research provided in a Christie's London auction note (2005 - Two Late Regency Collectors Philip John Miles & George Byng):

...dinner plates, engraved with George III's crown-ensigned and garter-wreathed coat-of-arms, have their rims serpentined or flowered in the manner of gothic lily cinquefoils and enriched with reed-gadroons. This antique pattern introduced by George II (d.1760) was adopted as George III's 'Coronation' service.

I take this to mean that the gadrooned cinquefoil form plate was introduced to the entirety of Great Britain during the reign of George II (1727-1760). Since the context was from a royal auction, I suppose the statement could also be interpreted as George II being the first to adopt this pattern for royal usage, but I don't think that is the information being conveyed.

I will not provide the link to the auction site, but if you search the quoted paragraph and visit the website, you can confirm this description is regarding plates visually identical to the 1704-1705 plate discussed in this thread.

Assuming that Christie's London is an authoritative source, this information proves that the gadrooned cinquefoil plate with 1704-1705 date mark has been reshaped.

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Re: Reshaping of English Dinner Plates and Serving Plates

Postby MGArgent » Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:38 pm

I sent an inquiry on this subject to the London Assay Office who kindly referred me to "The Price Guide to Antique Silver" by Peter Waldron.

An excerpt from Waldron regarding "fake" dinner plates on pg. 124:

Fakes: rather than deliberate fakes, there are many plates which have been altered to accommodate the latest fashion, and in these cases one can usually tell by the hallmarks, as they are either stretched, in an unusual place, or partially worn away. For example, the early 18th century plates which were of plain circular design bearing Queen Anne or George I marks, were often re-shaped in the 1750's or later, and applied with gadroon borders. Silver soup plates have never been particularly fashionable, and as dinner plates are more popular, being more useful, occasionally one will find that a soup plate has been converted into a dinner plate by hammering out or cutting out the depth of the bowl. This should however be readily discernible as there will be either crease marks or an unnatural seam at the booge. [the booge being the transition between the central well and the rim of a plate]


Aligning with the research note from Christie's in the previous post, Waldron states on pg. 126 that the 5-lobed or cinque-foil shaped dinner plates were first introduced c1740:

[5-lobed or cinque-foil shaped dinner plates with gadrooned borders are] ...the most common form of dinner plate... They have applied gadroon borders and were made extensively from 1740 onwards.


This information is mostly of consequence to dinner plates bought and sold within the UK. The later applied gadroon borders are heavier than 5 grams and render the plates illegal for sale in the UK.

As per the UK Hallmarking Act of 1973, the addition of a mere 5 grams or more of silver (even a large solder repair) to any hallmarked article renders that piece illegal for resale in the UK. These pieces can be "regularized" by the Antique Plate Committee to make them legal for sale but they required additional marks. In the case of dinner plates, they would no doubt require the application of "additions marks" to the borders, but their hallmarks would not be defaced (as shown earlier in this thread).

Judging by auction results from outside of the UK (beyond the jurisdiction of the Hallmarking Act Laws), re-shaped dinner plates with Queen Anne and George I marks still enjoy very strong interest. This is likely on account of the transformation being deliberate, contemporary with the fashion, and without intent to deceive (similar to how there is a strong market for "Georgian" berry spoons that were altered in the Victorian era).

There are numerous US auction results published on the Christie's website where early 18th century plates are described as "re-shaped" in the auction listing. It is reasonable to think that some UK sellers might contact auction houses such as Christie's to transport and sell their re-shaped plates in the US where they are popular and where they do not require additional markings.

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Re: Reshaping of English Dinner Plates and Serving Plates

Postby MGArgent » Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:49 pm

Here is an interesting example of the reverse transformation. This plate was originally made as a 5-lobed/cinque-foil shape in 1772 and was later re-shaped into a circular plate. There are still creases on the reverse that outline where the lobes were located.

George III Dinner Plate Parker & Wakelin 1772:
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Re: Reshaping of English Dinner Plates and Serving Plates

Postby Heamatite » Tue Feb 23, 2021 6:35 pm

I note the areas of solder at the junction of the rim and bouge. The excellent photographs also show the sharp edge at the junction of the two. Also seen is the really heavy wear to the metal. Bear in mind that this corner is invariably the thinnest part of a hammered plate, centuries of wear and polishing only accentuate the situation. Localized splits here had to be cured with hard solder not bothering to dress the unseen reverse. A comparison with an original scratch weight and its current weight is also useful and would involve a fairly simple translation to grammes from Troy with an accurate scale.

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Re: Reshaping of English Dinner Plates and Serving Plates

Postby Heamatite » Tue Feb 23, 2021 6:55 pm

Heamatite wrote:I note the areas of solder at the junction of the rim and bouge. The excellent photographs also show the sharp edge at the junction of the two. Also seen is the really heavy wear to the metal. Bear in mind that this corner is invariably the thinnest part of a hammered plate, centuries of wear and polishing only accentuate the situation. Localized splits here had to be cured with hard solder not bothering to dress the unseen reverse. A comparison with an original scratch weight and its current weight is also useful and would involve a fairly simple translation to grammes from Troy with an accurate scale.

Heamatite

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Re: Reshaping of English Dinner Plates and Serving Plates

Postby MGArgent » Wed Feb 24, 2021 2:19 am

Thank you for adding these observations,

Can you expand on what a sharp edge at the junction might indicate?

Heamatite wrote:I note the areas of solder at the junction of the rim and bouge. The excellent photographs also show the sharp edge at the junction of the two. Also seen is the really heavy wear to the metal. Bear in mind that this corner is invariably the thinnest part of a hammered plate, centuries of wear and polishing only accentuate the situation. Localized splits here had to be cured with hard solder not bothering to dress the unseen reverse.

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Re: Reshaping of English Dinner Plates and Serving Plates

Postby Heamatite » Thu Feb 25, 2021 8:45 am

A sharp edge may be caused by a number of reasons. Heavy wear and tear over centuries of use will remove metal differentially , the interior subject to the additional hazard of contact with steel knives and forks. When new a hammered plate,like its spun counterpart , would aim to have a crisp edge at the junction of bouge and rim . Achieved with a hammer and various polishing techniques it remains a potential weak area. If a split
occurs hard soldering was the ony option for its repair. Sometimes in order to gain metal to close a gap prior to soldering further localized hammering and polishing was undertaken. This could lead to sharper edge around the circumference or locally.


p.s Apologies for previous multiple posts!

Heamatite.

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Re: Reshaping of English Dinner Plates and Serving Plates

Postby MGArgent » Sat Feb 27, 2021 12:51 pm

Thanks for explaining this. I find it interesting to learn more about manufacturing and repair processes as it can really help one understand the history of an article.

I do see evidence of localized creases/indents around the bouge of the plate that I bought. It seems logical that this was caused by hammering/manipulation in order to close gaps before soldering.


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