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Sample Plate (England), 1899

This is a Sample plate. It was manufactured by Joseph P. Emery. It is dated 1899 and we acquired it in 2003. Its medium is glazed porcelain. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

This plate displays glazes in various colors produced by the Joseph P. Emery Company, a manufacturer of colors for the English ceramics industry in the 19th century. The plate serves as an example of one method by which Emery could display a range of colors to prospective clients. The wedge-shaped color fields and decorative scene repeated around the rim, with corresponding code numbers, were a sampling tool enabling Emery to better market its colors to local potteries in the Staffordshire area, a long-standing ceramics center in England. This example could also have served as a test plate, to evaluate the qualities and characteristics of Emery colors in the manufacturing process.
Joseph P. Emery, owner of the company that bore his name, was the son of Francis Joseph Emery, who introduced a process of decorating biscuit pottery with ceramic crayons in the mid-19th century. Joseph, and his brother Robert, went on to open their own color works, both located in Cobridge in Staffordshire—on Grange Road and Waterloo Road respectively. By the end of the 19th century, potteries were utilizing mass production methods and producing a great variety of wares in large quantities, requiring raw materials, such as coloring agents, in bulk. Emery supplied colors to the many ceramics manufacturers in the nearby pottery center of Burslem. The Emery brothers eventually merged their businesses. Now a part of the Tennant Group, the company is still active today as Emery Colours, based in Fenton, England, with the slogan “Emery Colours for ceramics since 1840.”
This plate is an example of the “sampling” format. This format was widely used by manufacturers to assist consumers in choosing the right combination of color, design, and materials, for products ranging from textiles to dinner plates. These products have become stylistic indicators of the time in terms of the choices of color and design. They also are beautiful artifacts in the arrangement of visual information on either the page of a sample book or the rim of a plate.
Sample plates are relatively rare and greatly enrich the museum’s documentary holdings related to ceramics design, technology, and marketing.

It is credited Museum purchase from Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund.

  • Sample Plate (Denmark), 1930s
  • moulded and glazed porcelain, with enamelled color.
  • Museum purchase from Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund.
  • 2003-5-4

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Its dimensions are

H x diam.: 1.9 x 26 cm (3/4 x 10 1/4 in.)

It has the following markings

On underside of plate: painted in underglaze blue: "J.P. Emery" / "Grange St. Color Works" / "Cobridge" / [design of wavey vertical line between 2 wavey horzontal lines]; stamped near center: "26" [upside down] / "FURNIVALE" / * [asterisk]; stamped in lower left quadrant: unclear mark in circular format--M[ADE] ? [unclear word] / image of anchor? / E?[unclear letters]

It is inscribed

Painted in blue glaze in center well of plate: "J.P.Emery" / "Feb. 1899" / "108"; "From 6145 To 6153 Fired in Slosh [Glosh?] Oven."

Cite this object as

Sample Plate (England), 1899; Manufactured by Joseph P. Emery ; glazed porcelain; H x diam.: 1.9 x 26 cm (3/4 x 10 1/4 in.); Museum purchase from Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund; 2003-5-1

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18698051/ |title=Sample Plate (England), 1899 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=19 May 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>