Monday, April 8, 2013

A Regency Warming Plate

It is common for me to come across late Victorian warming plates and dishes made of silver or silver plate, but I had never seen an earthenware version before. We were shopping in one of our regular antique shops and decided to purchase a mid Victorian European kitchen cupboard. This was not an impulse purchase, as we had actually been looking for one to fit beside our fireplace for a while.

As you can see it fits beautifully in beside the fireplace. These are wonderful as they are used to secure all the plate and silver of value. It has a locked draw on the top and bottom and shelves in the center section.

Anyways in purchasing this cupboard we also spotted an interesting stoneware warming plate. It had just come into the store that morning and was unlabelled. To add to this, Nic is amazing at bargaining and we ended up getting them both for less than their original total price, meaning that plate ended up being free.

On the way home I decided to play archaeologist and Google'd the maker and design. It was made by Rogers & Son in Stafforshire ca. 1820. I believe that this design was only produced from 1815-1825 and was made to celebrate the tour of an Indian Elephant called Chunee at the Covent Garden Theater, in England in 1810. One of the reasons that they may have stopped producing this design around 1825 could be because of the nature of his death.

Exert from Wikipedia
Chunee became dangerously violent towards the end of his life, attributed to an "annual paroxysm" (perhaps his musth) aggravated by a rotten tusk which gave him a bad toothache. On 26 February 1826, while on his usual Sunday walk along the Strand, Chunee ran amok, killing one of his keepers. He became increasingly enraged and difficult to handle over the following days, and it was decided that he was too dangerous to keep. The following Wednesday, 1 March, his keeper tried to feed him poison, but Chunee refused to eat it. Soldiers were summoned from Somerset House to shoot Chunee with their muskets. Kneeling down to the command of his trusted keeper, Chunee was hit by 152 musket balls, but refused to die. Chunee was finished off by a keeper with a harpoon or sword. The floor of his cage was deeply covered with his blood, and it was said that the sound of the elephant in agony was more alarming than the reports of the soldier's guns

More information about this story can be found at this blog.
The plate itself has a beautiful transfer design which is also on the raised base. This place is about 2inchs high and has a reservoir under the plate for warm water. The stoneware warms up quite quickly and can keep food warm for about 20 minutes. Normal hot water from the tap is very effective. It does not require the water to be boiling.

On the underside there is a large and small tube. From what I can work out based on trial and common sense you can pour the water into the larger spout and the shifted air is released from the smaller.

Anyways, we are both very happy in this plate and it's interesting provenance. It is wonderful to have such an amazing piece of everyday functional houseware.

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