This is a very rare serving dish made by Herculaneum in about 1810. The dish is made of a light creamware and decorated with a wonderful Greek pattern depicting Zeus and various other gods.


The Herculaneum pottery was based in Liverpool and operated between 1793 and 1841. It produced very high quality and well designed creamware, pearlware and in the 19th Century also porcelain. The "Greek" series was a very well-known and popular design that can still be found, although given the short time the factory was in operation as well as its relatively small size, these items are now rare.


In about 1800, the famous Spode factory in Staffordshire created a transfer printing process that could mass produce beautifully decorated blue and white wares, making this a very common and desired choice of tableware for the two centuries to come. Potters all over Britain quickly started to make use of this new technology and copied the famous Spode patterns. Herculaneum started using this technique in different colours, such as this ochre red and brown, but as these colours could not be printed under the glaze, they were applied on top of the glaze. This resulted in very vibrant decorations, however they were also more vulnerable to wear, which you can see on this plate.


This plate is decorated in the "Greek" fashion, which was inspired by the exciting 18th and 19th Century excavations of ancient sites of Greek, Roman, Minoan and Etruscan origin in Southern Europe. In particular, these images were also used by Spode and are copies of the famous Kirk etchings from 1804 of Hamilton's Etruscan vases that were purchased by the British Museum. 


In the centre of the plate is a beautiful wreath pattern, but what catches the eye most is the wonderful classical images around the wreath. One of them shows someone in a chariot drawn by two horses fighting two griffins - this is an old myth that the griffins protected the gold mines near the river Arimaspias. There is speculation that this myth was inspired by the fossilised remains of beaked dinosaurs that were found in that area. To the left of this you can see Hades tearing Persephone away from her mother Demeter, and in the next image you can see Hades spiriting her away in his chariot, on the way to the Underworld. Interestingly, in the first picture Persephone looks distraught, but in the second she wears a wreath and looks content. Lastly, there is an image of an offering being made at an altar. The plate has a beautiful border of acanthus leaves and Greek keys and a rim in the typical ochre colour that Herculaneum often used.


The plate is unmarked but it is clear from the pottery, the ochre rim and the quality of the printing with its fine checkered background, that this was made by Herculaneum.


CONDITION REPORT The plate is in excellent antique condition without any damage or repairs. The dish is crazed, as can be expected from such an old item. There is one little firing mark on the face of the plate, you can see it in the pictures on the edge of the central wreath, and there is some stray ochre paint baked into the glaze on the reverse of the dish. The wear on the rim is negligible. 


Kilns were fired on coal in the late 1800s, and this meant that china from that period can have some firing specks from flying particles, and the glazing surface can be a little uneven in places. This is normal for antique items from the 19th Century. This plate was fired smoothly but you will see some imperfections.


Please note that all items in my shop are of vintage or antique condition. They have often been used for many years and can have normal signs of wear. If they are from the 19th Century, please note that items fired in coal-fired kilns nearly always have irregularities at the surface and/or specks under the glazing. I will reflect any damage, repairs or heavy wear in the item description but some minor scratches, nicks and stains can be normal for vintage items and need to be taken into account.


There is widespread confusion on the internet about the difference between chips and nicks, or hairlines and cracks. I will reflect any damage as truthfully as I can, i.e. a nick is a tiny bit of damage smaller than 1mm and a chip is something you can see with the eye; a hairline runs over the surface glazing but not the body of the item and a crack runs through the body of the item, usually weakening its structure. Etcetera - I try to be as accurate as I can and please feel free to ask questions or request more detailed pictures!


DIMENSIONS 24cm (9.5") X 18.5cm (7 1/4").


SHIPPING I ship worldwide from the UK, mostly by Royal Mail 2nd Class for the UK and International Tracked and Signed for the rest of the world. I am happy to combine shipping charges on multiple items - please contact me to discuss. In principle I do not make a profit on shipping although for simplicity's sake I charge flat shipping fees. If the fee charged greatly exceeds the actual cost I will gladly refund you the difference - at the same time if it is slightly lower I will gladly make up the difference. In some countries shipping will end up significantly more than the expected fees and I will contact you to discuss our options. PLEASE CONTACT ME FOR ANY QUESTIONS REGARDING SHIPPING COSTS AND OPTIONS.

Herculaneum serving dish with Greek/Etruscan Kirk pattern, ca 1810

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