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Antiques Considered - September 16, 2009

This platter comes from a family in Northumberland County. It is black-on-white transfer, and hallmarked simply “New York.” Clearly it is a view of Lower Manhattan, dating from the 1840s. The platter was damaged, and the cracks and holes have been restored, but not painted. The owner questions whether to have them painted or not.
This platter is typical of the Staffordshire production of the mid-19th century. The black-on-white finish makes a clear impression, as opposed to some pieces with paler and more muted tones, such as violet or light blue. The design is quite good, and if I had the choice and the money, I should go for the re-painting. Under black light the restoration still will show, but once re-painted the piece will display more effectively.

Many of these Staffordshire pieces of the 19th century have chips or cracks, and restoration depends on factors such as sentimentality, appearance and value. This piece is a fine example of the period, and is worth being fixed. Obviously, it was part of a larger dinner service. Possibly other pieces could be found on the Internet, but building a complete set could be a lifetime occupation.
Staffordshire continues to grow in popularity, and thus in value. As is, this platter is worth $100, due largely to the subject matter. If it had the maker’s hallmark, the value would be significantly higher. In pristine condition, the value would be $350, hence I suggest weighing the cost of the re-painting with the overall value of the finished product.
As I have written many times in the past, one should not use 19th-century Staffordshire for food service. The glaze almost certainly contains lead, which can chip off and be ingested. As ornamental pieces Staffordshire is wonderful, but as to practicality, use modern china.
HAPPY ANTIQUING!

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