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china platesPebble Hill’s Collection
of Fine China

The collection of decorative arts at Pebble Hill provides guests with a unique opportunity to learn about a variety of objects and traditions thanks to the interests and tastes of its gracious benefactor, “Miss Pansy,” (Elizabeth Ireland Poe). Take for example the china collection.  Miss Pansy felt it was rude to serve guests on the same china twice.  As a result, PHP owns thirty sets of dinner plates by the world’s finest china manufacturers.   Many of these plates, hand painted and of exquisite design were used as service plates on the formal dining table.

Service plates, also known as chargers, were on the table when guests entered the dining room.  They were there to add beauty to the table and as a point for initiating conversations.  Food never touched the service plates; rather they were a decorative resting place for food-bearing plates and bowls. Some hostesses have the service plates removed as the first course is served; others have them removed before the entrée is served.  It is not known which was Miss Pansy’s preference.

PHP’s Collection of service plates includes Royal Worchester, Spode, Sèvres, Royal Doulton, Royal Copenhagen, Royal Meissen, Haviland and many other examples from equally renowned manufacturers. Three of the most interesting and delightful patterns are Audubon’s Birds of North America Royal Worchester, Herring Hunt (#44475) Spode & Copeland, and one produced by Sèvres for the Chateau de St. Cloud.

The earliest of these three is the Sèvres, produced in 1846, under the royal patronage of Louis Philipee (King of the French, 1830—1848).  The white, hand painted and gilded porcelain plates have a multicolored foliated border interspersed with classical design motifs and animals.  The center medallion contains three cherubs and a cornucopia in a gilt star burse.  The plates were made for the Chateau de Cloud as is noted in a ½” pink seal containing the name of the chateau on the back of each plate. Additionally, on the back, is a ½” silver and blue seal with the monogram of Louis Philipee, and a date mark indicating 1846 in green.

The Herring Hurt, (#44474), is one of several patterns Spode & Copeland decorated with images taken from a collection of prints by the 19th century English sporting artist, J.F. Herring, Sr.  The prints belonged to the Copeland family. The ecru plates are hand painted and gilded.  Each of the twelve plates features a different fox hunting scene in the center. The border contains a saddle and the heads of two foxes, a horse, and a dog.

Many patrons feel that the third pattern, Royal Worchester’s Audubon’s Birds of North America, is the loveliest in the collection. The plates were commissioned by the AC & HW Dickens Co., publishers, in 1934 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the completion of Audubon’s principal work. The first edition contains12 octagonal plates, each with a different species hand painted in the center. The birds are set in a two-toned green border with a raised and gilded fretwork appliquéd design. Due to the popularity of the first edition, a second edition was commissioned depicting an additional twelve species. Miss Pansy purchased a set of both editions.

Samples of all patterns in the collection are on display in the butler’s pantry of the Main House.  One more reason for a visit to Pebble Hill!

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