A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Majolica Ice Cream Services

One of the things in my personal majolica collection that I've owned the longest is an ice cream service made by Wedgwood in the Fan pattern. There are ten plates plus platter all with the same decoration and dating to the same year. When I first started buying majolica back in the 1980's complete ice cream services like this were a fairly common thing to come across. I can't say that any more as most of these ice cream services were broken up by their owners to maximize sales profit.
It's actually quite a shame, but it's still possible to assemble a beautiful service today through diligence and selective collecting.

One of the things that I think surprises new majolica collectors is that most of these platters and ice cream plates are flat plates and not rounded bowels the way we eat ice cream today. To understand this, one needs to understand how ice cream was prepared for service during the Victorian age. In this time before modern refrigeration, ice cream was generally sold and prepared by small neighborhood shops. Ice cream was commonly sold as small balls, neatly stacked together. It was also available in a variety of different shapes, molded to entice the eye. These molds were also used by home chefs to add elegance to their table. Many of these pewter ice cream molds have survived to today and are eagerly collected by enthusiasts.

This type of display of ice cream lent itself best to service on flat services, hence the flat form of Victorian Ice cream services.

Wedgwood and Holdcroft probably made more ice cream services than any of the other major potters but the little Etruscan Works in the US also made their own contribution to the form.

The simplicity of many of these platters have kept the prices fairly reasonable with many selling for under $250 and individual plates selling for $50-$75, so they can be assembled over time with rather little pain to your pocketbook.

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