Juvenile & A-B-C Plates

TCR04
TCR04

CDR97
CDR97

CDB64
CDB64

CDQ43
CDQ43

TCM76
TCM76

[Next >]
 

Search offerings »

Enews signup
Receive first notice of shows and website updates.
Sign up here today  »

Juvenile and ABC Wares

What could be more straightforward than the enjoyment and collecting of ceramics intended for children - whether wares made for service and decoration in the nursery or toys to encourage games of "let's pretend?" In actuality however, this class of ceramics is not well documented and is, upon consideration, subject to a number of unanswered questions.

  • Were ABC plates, for example, used at mealtimes or only as educational ornaments?
  • Are small plates with comic subjects intended for children or as whimsical souvenirs for adults?
  • Were miniature dishes toys for children or curios for adult collectors?
  • Does a print featuring children necessarily indicate a juvenile piece?
  • How does one distinguish between a toy plate and a cup plate?

Further discussion of many of these questions can be found in Noel Riley's excellent introduction to Gifts for Good Children: The History of Children's China 1790-1890 (Dennis 1991).

While we find miniatures dating to the 18th century and ABC plates showing characteristics of 1830's production, most of the pieces in this section date from the second half of the 19th century. Many reflect a sturdy, inexpensive standard of production. Whether instructive or playful, however, all still exert a naive charm that relates to the timeless qualities of childhood.