23 October 2019

Spode and a Hot Water Plate

Hot water plate, earthenware, Lucano pattern c1819-1833
This is a hot water plate. It is transfer printed in 'Lucano 'pattern which was first recorded in about 1819. Its Spode backstamps are of a style used until 1833 so this piece dates between c1819 and 1833.
Spode backstamps and detail of the hot water spout
The three backstamps
The backstamps are from left to right: impressed Spode company mark incorporating workman's mark 2 i.e. identifying the man who made the dish from the clay stage; blue printed Spode company mark; and blue printed cypher identifying the printing team.

A hot water plate was used to keep food warm. A cover - glass, metal or ceramic - could be used to help keep the heat in. These types of hot water plates were, at this period, for well-to-do families for use either in the nursery or for invalids, in the days before hospitals, when the wealthy were nursed at home. The grand but draughty houses with kitchens some distance away from the living rooms created a demand for all sorts of warming devices, from this type of plate, to spoon and ladle warmers and whole cupboards designed as plate warmers.
Detail of opening for the hot water & tiny hole where the shell 'lid' was secured
To use the hot water plate, heated water was poured into the base of the plate through the opening by the handle on the left. The opening was then covered with a little 'lid' which is missing. This is not surprising as the 'lid' was a tiny ceramic shell to match the fixed one on the right hand side handle. The 'lid' shell was wired to the main pot through the tiny hole you may have spotted by the hot water opening. I wonder where all those tiny shell lids are now...? Later versions had corks stoppers or metal screw-in stoppers. It is perhaps worth remembering that water had to be fetched from wells or springs to the houses and heated without the aid of electricity or gas at this period.
Detail of fixed shell on closed handle
'Lucano' pattern was introduced when there was an interest in pictures of places visited by those on the Grand Tour. It depicts 'The Bridge of Lucano near Rome' possibly taken from 'Merigot's Views of Rome and its Vicinity' published in 1796 -1798. Other pottery manufacturers also produced Lucano.

Here is a hot water plate of a later Imari design made in the Copeland & Garrett period (1833-1847) which has a cork stopper. The pattern is printed, handpainted and gilded and this is probably bone china.
Ceramic topped cork stopper closed (detail)
Ceramic topped cork stopper opened (detail)
Copeland & Garrett hot water plate - stopper on the right - 1833-1847