Its place in the affections

It is surprising how rare the cup-plates of the eighteenth century and
the early nineteenth century have become, considering their universal
use during that period when they were regarded as necessary and
fashionable accessories to the tea-set. In the days of our
great-grandmothers the etiquette of tea-drinking was markedly different
from that which maintains in our own day. Then the tea-cup occupied much
the position that the tea-bowl still holds with the Chinese, and the
saucer that of the tiny Chinese cup. In other words–we blush to confess
it!–our tea-drinking ancestors used the saucers of their tea-cups to
cool their tea in, and while the saucers were so utilized, tiny plates
(like the plates of a doll’s tea-set) were employed as holders for the
cups, thus to protect the polished top of the tea-table or, perhaps, the
trays of satinwood from being stained by the moist cup rims.

Just why, when so many of these little cup-plates were in use, so few
have survived seems a mystery. While tea-cups, cream-pitchers and
sugar-bowls abound, cup-plates still remain elusive. This is because
these tiny objects, being truly plates in miniature, were, when they
fell into disuse (and before collectors of old china and old earthenware
began to take an interest in them), given to children to play with, thus
meeting the general destruction to which nearly all dolls’ dishes of all
periods succumb. This seems the plausible theory for accounting for the
scarcity of the cup-plate. Nevertheless, despite its rarity, the
collector need not be discouraged. In all parts of the country where
settlement has been early the collector of old china still stands a good
chance of picking up cup-plates of all sorts. Even the glass ones are
yet to be found.

True it is that any exceptionally fine cup-plates offered in the antique
shops generally bring high prices. For instance, a four-inch cup-plate
brought twenty-three dollars at auction a year ago, and another fetched
thirty-six dollars at private sale. Certain other cup-plates which have
come to the author’s attention have been held for prices running from
fourteen to forty-five dollars apiece. Although the collector of
moderate means may not expect to indulge in many purchases, he is apt to
run across fine pieces at bargain prices that will send his spirits to
the level of true elation. First of all, however, he must study the
subject and learn to know a cup-plate when he sees one, for the
successful collector is never a hunter of Snarks!

Only two hundred and fifty years ago the East India Company considered
the gift of a couple of pounds of tea a princely one to make the King of
England! Pepys gives us an inkling as to how uncommon a thing
tea-drinking was in his time. However, the use of cup-plates is a much
later one than Pepys’s day; they were not the fashion until tea-drinking
had become an almost universal custom.

The illustrations will give the reader an idea of the variety to be
found in cup-plates. While the pieces put to this use are nearly of a
size, their diameters vary by a fraction of an inch to an inch or more.

One of the best known cup-plate series is Hall’s “Hampshire Scenery,”
with borders of primroses, hepatica, and other flowers resembling many
of the Clews borders. Their color is rich blue. John Hall & Sons were
Staffordshire potters (1810-1820), whose marks on wares Chaffers places
in the “uncertain” list. Then there is a “Quadrupeds Series.” The mark
on this resembles an extended bell, on which appears the name “I. HALL”
in capital letters, with the word “QUADRUPEDS” in crude capital letters
below, on a curtain-like extension with inverted flutings. But far more
beautiful than either of these sets, and more interesting to the
American collector, are those of a series in rich blue, one of which
shows the Park Square Theatre, Boston, and bears the characteristic
oak-leaf and acorn border of R. Stevenson and Williams. All the designs
of Ralph Stevenson are eagerly sought by collectors of old china. The
Stevenson works were in Cobridge, Staffordshire, but all record of both
potter and pottery seems to have disappeared. Another cup-plate series
contains a view of the first United States Mint, Philadelphia, and has
the characteristic border–of scrolls, eagles, and flowers–of Joseph
Stubbs. This potter made comparatively few pieces for the American
market. From 1790 to 1830 he was owner of the Dale Hall Works at
Burslem. His cup-plates are among the most desired objects of the sort.

Many cup-plates bore mottoes and verses such as those of the Liverpool
type, a Romance Series, for instance, containing one known as “Returning
Hopes,” with the ardent verse appearing thereon as follows:

When seamen to their homes return,
And meet their wives or sweethearts dear,
Each loving lass with rapture burns,
To find her long-lost lover near.

These Liverpool cup-plates, by reason of their pictorial nature, have
always been popular with collectors, hence the scarcity of them in
antique and curio shops. Private collectors, too, seem loath to part
with specimens of such printed wares. The glass cup-plates in native
American manufacture are in no sense comparable esthetically with the
cup-plates of porcelain and pottery of foreign fabrique. Still they are
interesting historically. The majority of the glass cup-plates were
crystalline glass, though some were colored–blue, green, yellow, brown,
amber, rose, purple, etc. There were many glass factories in America in
colonial days as well as in the nineteenth century, and American
households were well supplied by them with cup-plates, although in
design these were, more often than not, of comparatively little beauty.

Among the patterned cup-plate wares the collector will find, many
varieties of the hundreds of varieties of the “Willow” pattern may with
reasonable certainty be traced to their various potters; but this is a
special study in itself, and one entailing the


_Courtesy of Mary H. Northend and Mr. William A. Cooper_


Landscape, Wild Rose Border Landscape, Falls of Killarney

Pressed Glass Cup-Place

Portrait of Henry Clay

Floral Pattern Hyena Design]

surmounting of many difficulties. The _amateur_ need not concern himself
with the matter completely in order to enjoy the few examples that may
chance to discover themselves to him.

The lovely dark-blue Davenport ware, with designs in the Chinese style,
are worth looking for. Ware such as this is familiar to every collector
and is coming to be appreciated more generally than formerly. From even
a small collection of cup-plates much pleasure may be derived, and the
collector need not feel that it is hopeless to start getting together
examples of worth. If things are being picked up here and there on the
one hand, it is true that, on the other, examples of cup-plates fully
worth while are coming to the market as well as leaving it.

Chintz has been called the _tapisserie d’Aubusson_ of the cottage home.
Its place in the affections of the collector of antiques and curios has
long been secure. For fully fifty years and more lovers of household
ancientry have gathered to their appreciation bits of old printed
fabrics. Originally the word “chintz” was applied to the printed cotton
fabric from India, each piece being called in early days a _chint_, a
name which was derived from the Hindu _cint_, Bengal _cit_, and Sanscrit
_chitra_, meaning spotted or variegated. Afterward it came to be applied
to the glazed printed calicoes of European and American manufacture,
gaily patterned with flowers and birds and figures in diverse colors on
a white ground. Its calendered dust-shedding surface made the material a
great favorite with careful housewives. Cretonne, the French substitute
for chintz, a heavier material, was not introduced until somewhere
around the year 1860.

The old-time chintzes are not so easily picked up nowadays. However,
there are still excellent chances of occasional “finds,” even in
antique-combed America, where, happily, collecting has come to be one of
our chief pastimes. I know one collector who has been so fortunate as to
obtain many quaint specimens of old printed fabrics at small cost, from
an upholsterer in his own town. From time to time chairs and sofas were
brought to the upholsterer to be re-covered. Often these had several
layers of material under the outer one, and below those of later days he
would find, now and then, coverings of old printed cotton fabrics. Among
these were a lovely spray-pattern chintz of the Queen Anne period and a
hand-print of pastoral design by one R. Jones, manufacturer of Old Ford,
London, who produced patterned chintzes about the year 1760. Many of the
new printed cotton fabrics have borrowed their patterns from these
interesting textile ancestors, though nowadays, in the case of
monochrome and duochrome prints, the color effects are somewhat richer
than those that obtained in the printed fabrics of the eighteenth
century, with their cold chocolate browns, bottle-greens, and ox-blood
reds. For the collector there will naturally be an inimitable charm
about the original pieces, not to mention their historic interest,
while old multicolored chintzes cannot be surpassed in loveliness.

Chintz attained a beauty and a distinction of its own when it attracted
the fancy of the fashionables of the eighteenth century. To maintain its
favor, it did not rest content with being imitative but developed its
own resources with a consequent richness that marks its place among
decorative fabrics of the early days.

A sixteenth-century Portuguese writer, by name Odoardo Barbosa, gives us
an interesting early reference to printed fabrics: “Great quantities of
cotton cloths, admirably painted, are held in highest estimation.” But
even some two hundred years before his time the narrators of the romance
of commerce were celebrating the chintzes of the Coromandel India coast.
Doubtless these printed fabrics of the earlier centuries attained an
intricacy and beauty that were long denied the European printed textiles
which they inspired. Early examples of the latter are in no way
comparable, artistically or technically, with contemporary India prints.
Even to-day it would be difficult to improve esthetically on the
beautiful printed stuffs that come to us from the countries of the

We do not know with certainty the circumstances attending the
introduction into Europe of the manufacture of printed fabrics. Long
before English weavers had undertaken the industry, the printing of
fabrics flourished on the Continent. The sixteenth century references to
printed cottons in England are so few and so vague that we are virtually
without knowledge of the earliest manufactories of these fabrics. We do
know, however, that veritable legions of skilled craftsmen in the
textile arts settled in the British Isles during the latter half of the
seventeenth century. It is to them, probably, that the art owes its
introduction there.

The Print Room of the British Museum exhibits a quaint old trade
card–itself the impression of a wood-block such as the cloth-printers
used–which bears the representation of a cotton-printer at work. In the
costume of his time–the reign of James II–he stands before a long,
broad Jacobean table, lengthwise of which lies a piece of cloth, one
third showing the pattern which the printer has impressed on it. Behind
the left end of the table is set a Jacobean stool on which rests a
circular basin containing the color, which a boy is waiting to apply to
the wood-block for printing. The master printer is in the act of
impressing a section of the pattern on the white cloth by means of the
wood-block, which he is hammering with a wooden mallet. The text (in
script of the period) reads, “_Jacob Stamps living at ye sighn of the
Callicoes Lineings Silkes Stuffs New or Ould at Reasonable Rates_.” This
old mode of block-printing obtained for fully two hundred years until
the inventive genius of the nineteenth century joined hands with
commerce, to the craft’s almost complete discouragement. However, a
revival of interest in the old arts was inspired by such enthusiasts as
William Morris. The hand-printed fabrics have been restored to favor,
and to-day they again play an important part in the decoration of the
modern home.

Richmond, Bow, and Old Ford, London, became the earliest centers for
printed chintzes in England. The few extant specimens of
seventeenth-century chintz show us that the early printed cottons were
crude enough. At first more than one color was not attempted. The next
step appears to have been to add to the monochrome effect by applying
washes of dye, either freehand or stencil application, to the outline
pattern. This was done by brushing the color on as required, a process
slow, laborious, and fraught with uncertainties. An examination of these
early pieces, treasures though they are from an antiquarian point of
view, reveals a smudgy appearance resulting from the thickness of the
dye-inks with which the patterns were printed. The early materials were
very coarse canvas-like cloths.

With the advent of the eighteenth century the cloth for receiving the
printed patterns was much improved, and it was not long before finely
woven textures supplanted the cruder ones. This greatly facilitated the
development of textile color-prints, and the Queen Anne chintzes were in
consequence infinitely superior to those of the Charles II, James II, or
William and Mary reigns. So popular did these improved patterned fabrics
become that the chintz industry not only rivaled that of the
silk-weavers but for a time threatened to drive the latter out of
business. Indeed, so bitter became the feeling on the subject, between
the two crafts, that riots resulted and an appeal was made to
Parliament, by the silk-manufacturers of Spitalfields, for protection.
History records that the silk-workers were so enraged because
Westminster did not immediately forbid the wearing of chintz that the
delegation which had carried the petition to London, gave vent to its
wrath by tearing off all chintz gowns whose wearers were encountered on
the homeward journey. Finally, in 1736, Parliament passed an act
prohibiting printed cottons and linens, an act which was soon repealed
and followed by an increased vogue in chintz. In France as well it was
at one time considered expedient to forbid the manufacture of printed
textiles; the restriction extended until 1759.

Authorities seem to be agreed in considering the middle of the
eighteenth century as the golden age of old-time printed chintzes.
Collectors eagerly seek specimens of this period, though they are all
too rare to encourage hope in this direction except for occasional
finds. It was during the years around 1760 that multicolored patterns
were so beautifully and satisfactorily wrought with superimposed
woodblock impressions. Chippendale furniture of the time naturally led
to the popularity of Chinese motifs in design, and lovely indeed these
were. The intertwining flower sprays that marked the printed fabrics of
Queen Anne’s day now gave way to motifs in separated positions. The
_famille verte_, _famille rose_, and _famille noire_ porcelains of China
furnished many a motif for the chintz designers of the seventeenth
century. In the Chippendale period buff grounds were introduced, whereas
in the earlier chintzes the grounds had been white or untinted.

The third quarter of the eighteenth century witnessed an innovation in
the manufacture of printed fabrics. Various mechanical devices were
perfected and led to an enormous increase in chintz manufacture.
Cotton-printing was taken up in the northern counties and soon the trade
center shifted thence from London, its old cradle-town. Engraved
copperplates and roller-printing came into use. Still, as has already
been said, hand-printing was destined to survive.

The collector of these various printed cottons will find the historical
group especially interesting. Take for instance, the “Apotheosis of
Washington” or the “Allegory of Washington and Franklin” subjects. In
both, the figures of Washington were taken from the famous Trumbull
portrait. In the “Apotheosis” chintz the medallions containing portraits
of thirteen famous personages of early American history are after
engravings by Du Simitière. “William Penn’s Treaty with the Indians”
forms the subject of another patterned chintz of especial interest to
American collectors. Then there are the later political subjects which
the nineteenth century’s early history inspired. The printed kerchiefs
also came within the province of the collector of printed cottons. Many
of these kerchiefs are especially well adapted for framing. Such as the
“Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor” kerchief and the one bearing the title of
“The Token or Sailor’s Pledge of Love.” Some of these old kerchiefs and
also many examples of printed chintzes of historic interest have found
their way into American public collections.