From Bulletin 122 January 2004.


A photograph of a dished plate bearing the pattern seen on a similar plate shown here, courtesy of Ian Willis, was first published in these pages in November 1973. In the thirty years since, there has been no further information on the pattern in FOB Bulletins, nor does it get a mention in either Dictionary or anywhere else, as far as I can ascertain, although I do not have the book on Adams by the late Dr. David Furniss and Richard and Judy Wagner.

The Record Card which accompanied the photograph indicated that the plate had a diameter of 9” (247mm) and that it was impressed ADAMS. There was no footrim but the well was slightly convex. The body was described as ‘rather light’, the glaze as ‘white and lustrous, rippled at base’. The dealer from whom it was bought had called the pattern Snowy Shrubs, and so it has remained.

The entry in the Bulletin gives a date of 1805 which, on the face of it, appears to be perhaps too early a date for this kind of pattern – small central reserve, wide floral border extending down into the well, general use of pale blue ‘wash’ background to the scene and around the floral devices making up the border – features which would sit better with a date of 1815-1820.

These intriguing details were given a further twist for me when I found two soup plates in this pattern recently, the first I had seen ‘in the flesh’. My plates are unmarked, although one has what could be an impressed lower case mark of a different factory, (which shall remain unnamed in view of my known habit of seeing marks where there are none!) What struck me, however, was the sharply squared off edge to the rim on both plates, normally associated with late eighteenth and very early nineteenth century pieces. The ‘wash’ referred to on the card accompanying the photograph n the Records turns out to be very fine line engraving and the border has been so cleverly applied as to make it impossible to see any obvious joins, although breaks in the outer stringing to the rim are more easily seen. The glaze on both plates is certainly lustrous, one might almost say ‘lavish’ and, these being soup plates, has not suffered from the scratching of knives and forks. Whatever the truth about their date, they are decidedly a high quality product.

If this is an early pattern, and the impressed mark shown above is generally recognised as that of Williams Adams I at Greengates, the only further thought I can add is that David Furniss, in his Account of William Adams Potters 1779-1979, states page 7: “William Adams I was an early maker of blue printed ware. Two patterns are known from the 1780s, ‘Sea Anemones’ and ‘Chinese Bird’. A version of the Chinese print is in production at Greengates today.” This pattern is shown in Little plate 3, and in Coysh II plate 5, where it is called ‘Bird and Basket Chinoiserie’ and both bear the impressed mark. Coysh, however, also states that “this (impressed mark ADAMS) occurs on wares with patterns that appear to have been made well after his death in 1805).”

Finally, Snowy Shrubs seems a slightly unlikely name for this pattern. I wonder what ‘Sea Anemones’ pattern looks like…