Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Cracked Plate

Pattern 31
Hicks & Meigh - active 1806 to 1822

When I worked in the China Shop I was taught to test for imperfections. I would run my finger carefully around the rim to feel for tiny chips and tilt the plate in the light looking for flaws in the glaze. If the plate was not perfect it would be put aside and sold as a second. In those days, when I was young, I would not have dreamed of buying cracked china - only perfect was good enough.

Now I find myself drawn to china that has flaws.

This is a Georgian plate with an uncommon pattern and you can see that the clay separated at some point in the firing process creating a crack under the glaze. Despite this flaw it has been looked after carefully over the past 200 years because the glaze is bright and undamaged and the fluted edge is not rubbed as it would have been if it was kept in a pile of plates. I think that it is the imperfection that makes it interesting and is probably the reason it is in such good condition.

Is there a moral to this story that we should ponder?


but I prefer to focus on the facts that I spent twenty entertaining minutes with the wildly eccentric antique shop owner and I only paid £2 for the plate. And I think it is beautiful - even with a crack. No?


  1. I think it's more beautiful with the crack.

  2. Oh my! £2 for an antique plate of such beauty and history.
    It's a steal!
    And that flaw makes it the more charming, just like a beautiful woman with a REAL face.
    History, years, LIFE.

  3. do you think the plate is smiling at you ?

  4. Do you think I could come china shopping with you one of these days? I have a lot to learn!

    K x

  5. It is beautiful and part of the beauty is it's flaw and it's great age. You wonder at it's life and why it has survived intact while it's fellow perfect plates have fallen by the wayside. I think everyone likes an underdog that has come through to win and this plate has definitely won by ending up in your hands where it's imperfections are celebrated!

  6. A bargain... and a beautiful one at that.

  7. Even better with the crack and the little lesson about how it came to be.....

  8. MrsM is my old china ;-)

  9. I think it's beautiful - more so, even, showing its age and a glimpse of its history.

    I found this blog the other day (, in which the author writes about antiques, very often ceramics, that have been repaired in the most inventive ways. Fascinating, often.

  10. Have you seen this?

  11. readersguideDecember 18, 2010

    Oh, how funny -- the article I posted is talking about Andrew Baseman!

  12. no its not beautiful the crack would make no difference
    there is no sense of spontaneous artistic endeavour in it but thats just my opinion i'd like yors to be true

  13. Dear Anonymous,
    This is the first time in four years of blogging that I have had a weird, illiterate comment in the primitive style so I am keeping it for the rarity value.


Thank you! I love reading your comments and even though I don't always have time to reply I am really grateful to every one who joins in the conversation.