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Tobacco leaves, 3 times

Last week I showed a wonderful reproduction of two tulip vases, today I have another very interesting reproduction... and this time the story is more complicated.

This is a wonderful large dinner plate made by Spode some time between 1805 and 1813 (the dating of this plate is another story... nobody seems to agree on it but I think this must be the time range). The colourful pattern is called the "Tobacco Pattern" and it is a faithful reproduction of plates that were produced in China in the Qianlong era (1736-1795).

The tobacco leaf was a very popular decoration in Chinese porcelain, and Spode used it in several of their early Chinoiserie designs. This particular one is extremely colourful and has a wonderful juxtaposition of large leaves and flowers, and sprigs with tiny little flowers. There is a bit of gilding on the plate, but not in the usual way to provide borders; the gilt is incorporated into the tobacco leaves in order to give them some sparkle.

The plate is made of beautiful strong stone china, which is grey in colour. Spode started making stone china for two reasons: it was a bit cheaper to make while just as strong as porcelain, and many people preferred it because it looked more like the porcelain that had been imported from China previously and that people were used to. It is because of the stone china, and the lack of any mark on the bottom, that I think the plate is from between 1805 and 1813.

Now the interesting and confusing thing is that there are various versions of this pattern around, and initially I wasn't sure this was made by Spode; I had a lively argument with one of my peers but researching it further showed me that he was right! So I thought it would be nice to show you what I found, as I thought it was very interesting.

The original version was made in China in the 18th Century, and this Qianlong full dinner service is still around. The Spode version was made about 50 years later, but then in the 20th Century New York based Mottahedeh (see last week's post about their tulip vases) made a very faithful copy of the Spode version. In 2018, Christie's sold both the original Qianlong and the modern Mottahedeh full dinner services, which came out of the David and Peggy Rockefeller Estate, for $950,000 and $750,000 respectively. They were on display in London for a while and I went to see them - they were absolutely amazing. Needless to say these prices stunned the entire antiques market. The Mottahedeh version went for no less than 125 times its auctioneers' estimate!

These plates are very rare, and today I have one on offer. It has a bit of surface wear but still looks stunning and is structurally in perfect condition. You can find it here in my shop (and you can see all my plates, many of which are made by Spode, here). If you always want to see the latest additions, follow me on Instagram... I post pictures and a story every single day 🌺🍃🌸

Enjoy your weekend!


This week's new treasures:​


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