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Thursday, 23 June 2011

Ridgway Portrait Plates and Plaques

One of the most enduring of families to produce commemorative ware was the Ridgway family. Their official title between 1879 and 1920 was "Ridgways of Bedford Works, Shelton, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent". After 1920 they became "Ridgways (Bedford Works) Ltd". One of their many specialities was the Portrait plates and plaques which are produced with black coloured half tone transfer prints applied to a brown coloured and glazed surface.

It is impossible to give the exact production date (or numbers produced) of many of the plates and plaques, especially as the numbering which sometimes appears on the back could be a mould mark or occasionally the year of production. Some of the backs have no date, trademark or identification.

It is of no surprise to find that Ridgways turned their attention to the Salvation Army. All lists produced until now state that there are six designs, in three sizes (total 18 therefore) of unknown date, as follows:

1. General William Booth
2. Catherine Booth
3. General William Bramwell Booth
4. Mrs Florence Booth
5. General Edward Higgins
6. Mrs Catherine Higgins

Each of the above are found on: Plate (Coupe shaped with fine gold edge) - 9 inch and 10 and a quarter inch. Wall Plaque - 8 inch. In researching this article three things have emerged:

Dating - By comparing the backs of a number of plates (but not plaques), it is clear that several copies of plate one have 5/27 and plate two have 7/27. This could suggest that they were issued in 1905 and 1907 respectively. Nothing can be deduced for plates three and four from the apparently random numbers which occasionally appear on the reverse. Plates five and six must have been produced during Edward Higgins' time as General, 1929 to 1934. One plate seen does indeed have the figure 30 on the reverse, thus indicating its production as 1930.

Inscription - very few Ridgway plates bear inscriptions on the reverse but the majority of Salvation Army plates are unusual. Most examples read "Published with authority and courtesy of the Salvation Army, Ridgways. England".

Sizes - perhaps most exciting of all is the identification, published for the first time here, of another size of plaque. In all respects the same as the 8 inch plaque, this is a 9.4 inch size. This brings the total recorded to six designs in four sizes, thus a total of 24 plates or plaques.

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