THE BEAUTY OF WELL & TREE IRONSTONE CHINA PLATTERS

By: John Hogan

First of all what is a Well & Tree Platter? It is a large platter with troughs formed into the bottom to resemble bare tree branches attached to a central trunk, at one end of which is a shallow well.

THOMAS BOOTH WELL & TREE PLATTER

THOMAS BOOTH & SONS BACKSTAMP

Such a configuration allows the juices of meats being cut on the platter to drain.

These platters are considered as major serving pieces of pottery or porcelain. Such platters were produced in oval shapes and sometimes  rectangular. Such a phenomenon in china serving pieces was first produced in Staffordshire, England around 1790's to enhance the dining experience in the aristocratic dining room. Many of the early Well & Tree platters were produced in blue & white transfer. Some were floral and many were scenic, either romantic or typographical (actual places, known as historical). By 1820 such large china platters were the rage and were an essential part of the formal dining experience.

Devised as an accessory dinnerware piece to decorate the dining-room table in conjunction to the opulent soup tureen, the rich always wanted to have bigger and better grand dinner services to brag their social stature when throwing stately dinners. Consequently British potters had to constantly produce eye stoppers for their wealthy clients. Originally such pieces were not necessarily produced as part of the main dinner service rather as complimentary additions to the grand dinner service. As time took its course, such pieces were produced in the same pattern or motif as the main dinner service. Such a master serving piece usually measures 18" length by 15" width. However special orders were requested from some Staffordshire china factories as Spode and can measure 26" in length by 20" width. These extra large sizes are considerably rare finds of which I had the occasion of owing, some twenty five years ago, a rare Blue & White pattern that was produced by Spode dating 1860. Such platters are prized with great esteem.

A very fine specimen in blue & white transferware is this Indian Ornament pattern Well & Tree platter by Thomas Booth & Sons which dates 1872-1876.

Click photos to right of article to enlarge.

 


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