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This is a stunning oval dessert dish made by Coalport in about 1847. The dish has a pierced rim, a beige and finely gilded ground and a beautifully hand painted apple painted by the famous painter Joseph Birbeck.

 

Coalport was one of the leading potters in 19th and 20th Century Staffordshire. They worked alongside other great potters such as Spode, Davenport and Minton, and came out with many innovative designs. When we say "Coalport" we usually think of the one Coalport factory that became famous, but in its beginning years there were two factories, one run by John Rose and the other by his brother Thomas Rose. Thomas Rose went into partnership with Robert Anstice and Robert Horton and they were located directly opposite John Rose, across the canal. The brothers' factories had much in common with each other and they shared many different shapes and patterns. Ultimately, the John Rose factory proved more profitable and John Rose bought Thomas' factory in 1814, making it the one Coalport factory that became so famous. Many of the Coalport items, of either factory, are now collectors' items.

 

Joseph Birbeck was born in Worcester in 1798 and, being born to a potting family, he started working for Chamberlain's at a very young age and ended up working his entire adult life at Coalport. Birbeck was most known for his very fine and subtle fruit paintings, such as on this beautiful dish. By the time Birbeck painted the dessert service that this plate belonged to, he would have been the foreman of the painting department at Coalport. Birbeck's style of fruit painting was contemporary and closely related to that of Jabey Aston, who painted slightly more dramatically, and William Cooke, who tended to paint more complex compositions.

 

The dish is unmarked, as is common for this period, but it has the pattern number 5/454 written on the underside, which dates it to about 1847.

 

An example of a very similar painting by Birbeck can be found in plate 107, page 159 of Michael Messenger's book "Coalport 1795-1926".

 

CONDITION REPORT The dish is in perfect antique condition without a