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

Friday, December 21, 2012

Majolica Spotlight: Wedgwood's Fruit Plate Series

One of the first majolica plates we ever bought was from Wedgwood's large fruit dessert plate series. It pictures a sliced melon with a turquoise basket weave ground. We picked it up at a tiny church sponsored antiques sale for $30 and was one of the prettiest plates we'd ever seen. Soon afterwards we started to see other plates with different fruits on them-- many different fruits. It piqued our curiosity. We began to wonder, how many different plates could there be? (By the way, it seems rather odd that the melon plate in the top photo is somewhat different in design from the melon plate directly below, but that is topic for another post entirely!)

Well, it's now 25+ years later and we're still not sure! It seems that as soon as they're all accounted for a different one shows up! To date we've counted twelve different large plates.

The series itself dates to the 1870's and was conceived as part of the Argenta line. Consequently the plates are most frequently found with an ivory or turquoise ground, and less frequently with a cobalt ground.

With some looking they can also be found in brown, mottled, and two glaze combinations like cobalt/green and gold/red.

Each plate features one large fruit surrounded by smaller fruits, nuts and foliage.

Here's what we've found so far in addition to the melon: a pomegranate: an apple; chestnut; coconut; fig; lemon; peach; pear; pineapple; a whole orange; and a peeled orange. Why there are two oranges we can't say (maybe one is supposed to be a clementine or a tangerine, who knows) but there seems to be a consensus among collectors we've spoken to that the peeled orange is the most desired and most beautiful in the series.

In addition to the large 9-inch plates there were numerous matching serving pieces: platters in three sizes; two grape servers; a relish plate; a footed bowl; tazzas in two sizes; a 6.75-inch side dish; an umbrella stand; a condiment set; mugs; a large punch bowl; and a sardine box. With so many different shapes there must be other pieces of the series that we haven't seen as well.
There were also other Wedgwood designs that utilized the same basket weave ground such as the Wedgwood cornbread platter but as far as I can tell they're not actually part of the series but more like go-alongs.

The 9-inch plates have always brought good prices. The ivory ground plates are often stained but still bring about $100-$200 each; the turquoise plates usually bring $200-$350 each; and the cobalt ground plates will bring $400+. The other color combinations are not really very popular with the all-over mottled plates usually bringing the lowest price of them all by selling for under $100.
Prices for the companion pieces depend on color, rarity and condition.

One note to all this: the Etruscan apple and strawberry plate is a copy of the Wedgwood peach plate, minus the peach! The elements are somewhat reorganized but there's no question of the relation between the two.

It was only one of many Etruscan designs with components "borrowed" from Wedgwood.


  1. Hello found your blog and realized 1 of the chargers featured i now have. It is the 14 picture charger with 2 grifin like creatures . Could you tell me if it is worth anythoing many thanks. Email kevanweston@hotmail.co.uk if it is possible

    1. We don't give values because there are too many variables involved. However if you'd like to post an image through Flickr, Redit or some other site we will be glad to identify the piece for you to the best of our ability.