Q: What can you tell us about this platter? The family story is that it was found hidden in the wall of a Baltimore hotel that was under demolition, and that it was put there to save it during the Civil War. My grandfather got it between 1920-1935.
A: I suspect that the demolition story is family lore, especially the hiding business. Still, it is a lovely tale.
Between color photocopies sent and the reader’s description of a back stamp, we deduce that the reader’s platter is by John Maddock and Sons Ltd., of Burslem, England. Founded in 1855, Maddock is part of a cluster of Staffordshire potteries, and it’s still in business.
The company is well known for making lines of china for hotels and fraternal eating establishments. In research, we found china made for the Shriners and other groups; many pieces had group-specific logos on the front.
The reader mentions writing inside the mark of a circle topped by a crown but it’s blurred and she can’t make out the wording. That often happens with stamps. I suggest trying a magnifying glass or loupe to decipher the lettering. It matters because in dating the company marks, wording counts.
Maddock wares are dated by distinct markings. Go to www.thepotteries.org/mark/m/maddock.html to see how marks changed over time. We found that the shape on the reader’s platter was used from 1880 to around 1906. The blurred words are most likely “John Maddock and Sons” at top and “Royal Vitreous” at the bottom.
To complicate matters, “Ltd.” appeared in the name after 1896. The pattern name appeared below the stamp even later. All that matters when pegging dates.
Since our reader can make out the pattern name, “Dainty,” we know that the platter was made after 1896 but before the mark changed in 1906. Finding “Ltd.” will narrow the date of make even more.
All that gives a lie to the Civil War (1861-1865) story. But I say if you like it, stick with it.
We found 12-inch and 15-inch platters in the Dainty pattern offered on eBay for $42.99 and $199.99. There were no completed sales. I suspect the gap is because a seller can ask for anything. Whether they get it — or even come close — is another matter.
Be aware that Dainty was produced both with and without gold along the inner ring. Potential buyers may expect gold.
Q: I inherited these earrings years ago. I can’t send a photo or image, but can you ID them from my drawing?
A: I would love to help this reader, but the earrings must be examined for marks. Many wonderful earrings are unmarked, but then considerations of aesthetics, style, material used and condition come into play.
The only characteristic I can spot is that they are clip-ons. As we know, this type became rare after pierced ears came into vogue decades ago. Sadly, all I can say is that the earrings are probably vintage, but the reader already knows that.