Basket case Victorian dish, c.1850

In honor of Mother’s Day, I am featuring a dish that only a mother could love. I believe it to be English from the mid 1800s and made of porcelain with hand painted decoration in cobalt, drab and gold. It is marked on the bottom with the numbers 4 over 554 and measures 9″ x 10″. This is truly one of the saddest antiques with inventive repairs I have ever seen, and believe me, it took much inner soul searching just to purchase it. I am breaking with tradition and showing the underside of the plate first. Take a deep breath…this is not going to be pretty.



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This dish must have held great sentimental value for its original owner. In order to make it “whole” again after being shattered over 100 years ago, it was professionally repaired using 10 large metal staples, overpainted to mask the unsightly raw material. Sadly, the dish was dropped AGAIN, resulting in the loss of 3 staples and a sloppy glue job, now yellow with age. To add insult to injury, later in life it was bound with a cat’s cradle worth of string and cord, so it could proudly hang on a wall for all the world to see the tenacity of this unlikely survivor.

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13 Responses to “Basket case Victorian dish, c.1850”

  1. Cathy Marshall says:

    I never felt sorry for a piece of pottery before….but your description of its trials and tribulations reminds me of the love we do sometimes give our objects, and this one is truly a deserving beauty.

  2. David Cohn says:

    Such sticktoitiveness.

  3. Mary Spencer says:

    Thank YOU for this picture, I Love it! Amazing story here, and the piece is worthy of the repairs.

  4. CarolR says:

    Reminds me of some pets (and, yes, people, too) who are loved whole again. Thanks for a great Mother’s Day post!

  5. RebeccaED says:

    I can’t decide if this dish deserves a proper burial, or a place of honor in the china cabinet. It’s a wonderful dish, I love that it’s asymmetric, and it deserves our respect for all it’s been through.

  6. Keith Lo Bue says:

    Could be my favorite from your collection. Truly a crazy-quilt of preservation… Thanks for sharing!

  7. Von says:

    What a wonderful survivor, the love that this dish has received over the years shows itself to all.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Wow. I think I would hang it backwards to see all the fixings!

  9. You have to have a news story done on your collection. CNN? or at least NY1.

  10. I agree! Anyone? Anyone??

  11. joy says:

    Sooooooooo Winston Churchill: Never Never Never give up!!!

  12. stefanie says:

    I have long loved your collection- and I share with you- the urge to honor these fallen glories when I find them.
    The re-invention of a broken piece- invests each and every one- with rare character.
    And it speaks to the dearness of the object- the sentimentalities and historical repairs.

    They become – actually more than they were before.

    This piece is even more lovely from the reverse!

    thanks for this blog.
    I love it!

  13. Moni88 says:

    I read this one with trepidation, but not one responder has said the dish wasn’t worth it! It is so beautiful and tells so many stories. What a perfect Mothers’ Day choice, and thank you for sharing. My mother would have approved, as she loved all quirks about china, an avid collector. Hope you do get some media coverage, and let us know about it.

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