These came into my possession recently.
Okay, another souvenir from Plymouth, or so I thought. But wait; not so fast. Again, in trying to do research on this pair, they were not to be found. It’s as if these are the only such sugar and creamer in existence. How can that be? How can I consistently find items that cannot be found on the internet? With the world wide web available to me at the stroke of a key…nothing. Absolutely nothing.
But, at least I was familiar with the manufacturer’s mark: Brownfield & Son, a well known and respected potter who conducted business in Staffordshire, England, from 1850-1891.
The transfer print was light blue, not the darker blue common on many souvenir plates. The china was fine, translucent porcelain, not heavy pottery. The shape was scalloped with gilt edges. The detail was delicate and beautiful. There was a lovely border of flowers and leaves with a cartouche of the “Mayflower” and “Canopy” (which housed Plymouth Rock) on both as well as a cartouche containing an illustration of “Plymouth Rock” and “Clark’s Island”.
I was familiar with William Brownfield and Brownfield and Son(s) pottery and knew they had manufactured some lovely pieces. They started working with porcelain in 1871 and I judged these pieces to have been made around 1880. The word “England” included in the mark indicated to me that these were manufactured for sale in another country. Another country like the United States, specifically Plymouth, Massachusetts. Amazing detective work, no?
In researching Brownfield and Son a bit, to see if I could find any information about their manufacturing items for export to other countries, I came across a very interesting book entitled “A Keramic Study: A Chapter in the History of Half a Dozen Dinner Plates” by Flora E. Haines, self-published in 1895. I have no idea what “Keramic” means. Perhaps it is an alternate spelling for “Ceramic” as that would make sense giving the subject matter.
The book is 127 pages in length, extremely entertaining and full of information about the time she spent at Brownfield’s in 1893, which was at that time was a Guild and no longer “& Son”. Following are two pages from that book:
Note that on page 21, Mr. Brownfield mentions “…a Massachusetts customer, ‘who is more lavish with his money than most Americans,’ …. and “sent photographs for special plates”. Not finding an example of a plate to show Flora, they instead brought out the engraven copperplate. She suggested that a border of the leaves and flowers would be attractive leaving out certain other elements such as “the vessel, island and rock”. Surely, she must have been discussing the very pattern used for my little sugar and creamer.
After more time and research, I found other pieces by Brownfield in a red / pink color. Surely the transfer print on the plate shown below was the same as that on the engraving shown to Flora. There was the statue of Faith in the middle with the vessel, island and rock on the border. This plate, however, was 7 and 3/4ths inches wide. The creamer shown with it measured 6 inches. I located a similar cup and saucer as well. The saucer measured 6 and 1/2 inches and the cup measured 4 and 3/8ths inches across the top.
Now knowing that “full sized” pieces were manufactured by Brownfield in this design, I realized that the small blue creamer and suger that I had must actually be from a child’s tea set or toy tea set. My creamer was only 2 and 3/4ths inches tall and what I had assumed was an open sugar bowl was 1 and 7/8ths inches high. I believe this small “sugar” is actually a waste bowl in a children’s set.
This brought me to search Plymouth, Massachusetts souvenir china. While leafing through Google Books, I noticed three editions in particular that mentioned A. S. Burbank and his line of souvenir china.
Alfred Stevens Burbank was born in 1856 and died in 1946. He operated book stores in Plymouth from 1872 until he retired in 1932 (60 years!) The earliest shop was called “The Telegraph Book Store” as shown in the following 1878 ad. At this point, there is no mention of souvenir china being offered. This same ad was found in an 1881 publication.
There’s quite a gap in time between the ad above and the 1896 three page ad below. I’m including all three pages as it shows all of the various types of souvenirs offered by Mr. Burbank. Notice that the name of his shop is now the Pilgrim Book Store.
I got a laugh out of the last souvenir listed on the page below….”a little model of Plymouth Rock made of the finest Sweet Chocolate…”
And finally, at the top of page three is “Pilgrim China”.
The following photo is from the Find A Grave website.
I went back to “A Keramic Study” and re-read the section where it mentions the man from Massachusetts “sent photographs for special plates” to Brownfield. And the china that Brownfield produced had a “vessel, island and rock”. A. S. Burbank was a prolific photographer and perhaps he is the one who sent those images to Brownfield. Following is a close-up of the island cartouche on my sugar bowl:
This island is “Clark’s Island” which is off the coast from Plymouth. Perhaps the photograph sent to Brownfield was the one used by Burbank on a postcard. I’m only speculating here, but it could be!
I can’t prove absolutely that this sugar and creamer were commissioned by Burbank. There were others who offered Plymouth souvenir china in the late 1890s.
A sample of an Austrian china mark is shown in this ad:
Years ago I was researching the “Woodland” pattern by Brownfield and did some of my searches by the British Registered No. 14058. It seems that these were souvenirs of Bradford Academy located in Haverhill, Massachusetts with its Tupelo Lake depicted in variations of the ‘Woodland’ pattern of 1884. Interestingly enough, the patent was issued to Brownfield for handkerchiefs and shawls and not for pottery!
The mark on the back of this plate shows “Chas. Emerson & Sons, Haverhill, Mass.” So this plate was manufactured for export by Brownfield and commissioned by Emerson.
Another thought to ponder would be when the mark “Brownfield & Son” was changed to “Brownfield & Sons”. A patent issued to this company was listed as “Brownfield & Son” in February 1876 and later in that year in September, it had changed to “Brownfield & Sons”. But I have seen an ad from 1878 for “Brownfield & Sons” showing their trademark as “Brownfield & Son”. My assumption is that their mark was changed around 1880.
The little blue Brownfield & Son sugar and creamer are listed for sale at my Etsy shop: