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

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Majolica Spotlight: Wedgwood's Leaf Dessert Plates

Wedgwood's round grape leaf plates are a standard of the majolica form. The idea of solid green plates itself dates to the earliest Wedgwood wares, which were in production in monochromatic green glaze since the late 18th Century, actually pre-dating the invention of full color majolica by the Minton factory. This particular design, originally produced during the Victorian period, has been in almost continuous production ever since. Still in production today in lead free glazes, the Wedgwood round grape leaf plate is probably the most common majolica plate available.

There are two distinct variations of these plates, the first of which is a roundish plate with a ruffled edge and the second of which is this same leaf against a perfectly round basket weave design. This latter design is the oldest of the two designs while the former is the form in which the plates are still being made by Wedgwood today.

While they are usually made in a solid green glaze, they were also made briefly in full color during the late 1800's, when they functioned as part of Wedgwood's large Leafage series. These full color plates glazed in a combination of brown, yellow, green and sometimes pink, are rather scarce and can bring prices significantly higher than their solid green counterparts.

Since this design has been made over such a long period of time, the only way to date these plates is by the reverse. The earliest plates bear the impressed Wedgwood logo, either with or without the three letter Wedgwood date code. They also have three sagger marks and no real foot.

After 1890 they bore the impressed word "England" in addition to the impressed Wedgwood name and date code. After 1910 they took on the "Made in England" stamp. These plates show sagger marks and a completely glazed foot.

After the Second World War they took on the name Etruria. Today's plates have the circular Etruria Wedgwood ink stamp on the reverse as well an unglazed foot which the earlier plates lack.

The price on these plates has remained rather consistent over the years. The older plates sell in the $50-$80 range where the newer plates sell in the $25-$35 range.
There are also matching dessert stands.

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