lockside antiques

Specialists in Bargeware


History of Ribbon Plates

With the introduction of Bank holidays in about 1880, it became popular in this country to bring home a pictorial souvenir from any seaside resort, spa town or place of special interest. Such souvenirs were often given to friends as a holiday present –  a practice which continues to an extent today but was at its height between 1880 and 1930. Pictures were transferred onto all sorts of items which could become souvenirs – mugs, teacups and saucers, jugs, candle sticks and, most especially, pierced, hard paste porcelain plates.


Plates were either ribbon plates with a pierced edge, through which a ribbon could be threaded easily and tied into a neat bow, or lace plates which were also pierced, but more like paper doilies – some with quite plain edges, some much more intricate.


A combination of the right kind of clay and a plentiful supply of timber for making charcoal led to a great industry springing up in Germany, Austria and Eastern European areas. These counties produced souvenir plates, decorated with transfers of popular places to visit, animals, fruits or simply floral patterns. Photographs of the resort were sent to the plate manufacturer and orders placed for the required quantity. Often the words ‘A present from.......’ appeared, or maybe a sentimental message like ‘For a friend’.


The most prolific manufacturer was Carl Schumann of Arzberg in Bavaria, Germany. This is one of the few factories which exists in the same location to-day, still producing pierced wares of the finest porcelain.


Souvenir plates became popular with working boatmen, partly because they took up very little space in the cramped confines of their back cabins. Usually referred to as hanging up plates, they were hung up on side walls, around the table cupboard and even pinned to curtains, often overlapping, which is why so many got broken!


It was not only in this country that the plates were so popular as souvenirs; some have come to light with names of places in Canada, the United States of America, Sweden, France and Ireland ... and I’m sure there are more yet to be discovered.


Old ribbon and lace plates are enjoying a revival and are collected by traditional and modern boaters alike to adorn their cabins just as their forbears did and many find that two or three plates can be an inexpensive way to brighten up a corner of their homes as well.


The accompanying pictures are for illustration only.


Lockside Antiques                          01562 850458



Schumann plate of

the Houses of Parliament

Typically Victorian plate with lillies

Edward and Alexandra commemorative plate

Large Meissen plate of Queen Victoria

Plates took up very little space in a boatman’s cabin