Salem Witch Souvenir Plate, ca. 1908
This Salem souvenir plate is 197 mm (7 3/4 inches) wide. It is marked: “Designed and Imported By Daniel Low & Co. Salem, Mass. — Manfd. by Frank Beardmore & Co. Fenton England”; who was in business from 1903 to 1914. Thus, ca. 1908.
The deep blue witch design used here is stunning. I love the wispy clouds, the flowing hair and the diaphanous gown. What more could you want? You even get a very cute border of nine cats’ faces alternating with pairs of crossed broomsticks!
According to Pamela E. Apkarian-Russell, A Collector’s Guide to Salem Witchcraft & Souvenirs (1998), 42–43, there are three versions of this plate: one with a green glaze (152 mm or 6 inches wide), two with a blue flow glaze, one of which has gold trim applied thinly (both 197 mm). A fourth plate, also blue, but deeper, has a foliage border. The green plate was made by Rowland & Marsellus Co., Staffordshire, the rest by Beardmore & Co.
I have only ever seen for present plate for sale or at auction, which Apkarian-Russell describes as the most desirable, but not the rarest. She valued it, in 1998, at USD125–50. Prices haven’t advanced much in a decade. This one is available for USD65, while this one sold at USD250; they appear regularly on eBay, but I have very rarely seen them go for less than USD150.
If you have another look at the full plate design you’ll see that the angle of the broom is rather steep, so steep that it is tempting to orient the plate with the moon at the top and the “Salem 1692″ banner at the bottom (as below). But the ground and the clouds make it clear that our witch’s torso should be upright, with her knees bent as if she were sitting on a chair (as I have in the first image at the top of this post).
This is one of the less common forms of witch on Salem souvenirs, most Salem witches are hags (which is pretty stupid given the ages of the accused), though there are some very pretty and beautifully executed Salem witches in Apkarian-Russell’s Collector’s Guide. She shows this design on only one other object, a small base-metal dish with a copper wash on it (65), but there is a lovely German bisque statuette (64), and hand-painted box for playing cards (65).
It took me a long time to get this plate. Competition for Salem souvenirs is pretty ferocious and, given how few items fit my criteria for inclusion, I lost interest in them soon after I started collecting. Nevertheless, I bought a copy of Apkarian-Russell’s Collector’s Guide just in case. But when I looked through it I realised that the only item I had any chance of getting, and actually wanted, was this plate. I assumed that I’d simply have no chance to get any of the other items that I liked the looks of, and I was right. But that is okay, because this plate is gorgeous.
BTW: As some of you noticed, I gave you two posts the weekend before last, and skipped last week (I was interstate). I had intended to post something to this effect but I ran out of time in the end. So I hope this post makes up for my silence!