Turkey Plate Special
After President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, the turkey, already a star of feasts in England and America, soon became the symbol of our country's new celebration.
With Thanksgiving dinners came, of course, an increase in demand for holiday-specific dishes from house-proud American women. And the potteries of Staffordshire, England, were happy to oblige. The turkey was ready for its American close-up. From the late 1800s until the 1950s heyday, waves of turkey-patterned transferware crossed the pond for our dining tables. Today, many of these collectible pieces are available through websites such as ebay.com and replacements.com, though you may already have some resting in your sideboard. Here are some of our favorite patterns.
Royal Doulton Turkeys Plate
The flow blue style is a softer take on classic blue-and-white transferware made by releasing chemicals into the kiln at just the right moment, "flowing" the ink. The gold-edged, asymmetrical border is caused by an error in the manufacturing process. This "mistake" can up the value of this Royal Doulton Turkeys plate to around $200 on replacements.com.
Rowland & Marsellus Co.
Rowland & Marsellus Co. was an enterprising American firm that imported British-produced plates under their own company name between 1893 and 1938. We purchased this polychrome example for $35 on ebay.com.
Johnson Brothers produced one of the most popular turkey patterns, His Majesty, for almost 40 years—from 1959 to 1996. The Wedgwood Group acquired Johnson Brothers in 1968, along with all of their patterns. From 1999 to 2004, Wedgwood worked with Williams-Sonoma to reproduce these platters, which sell for around $240 on replacements.com.
Brown + Chartreuse
How do you freshen up brown transferware? Highlight the plate's accent colors. Here, we pulled out the pattern's muted chartreuse and crimson touches (from the turkey's head) with a tablecloth and floral centerpiece. Dress it up with sparkly gold accents.
Blue + White + Magenta
This color trio puts a bright, modern twist on the traditional Thanksgiving Day palette. We added contemporary blue-and-white patterned dishes, a graphic tablecloth, and magenta napkins and flowers to reinvigorate the beauty of this rare flow blue turkey plate, which was manufactured by Ridgway between 1891 and 1920 and costs around $350 from replacements.com.