Wednesday, July 8, 2009


ABC PLATEQ: I found this unmarked plate decorated with Benjamin Franklin's proverbs at an estate sale. It is 6 3/8 inches in diameter. Do you know who made it?

A: Children's alphabet plates, or ABC plates, were made by several potteries, including many in Staffordshire, England, beginning in the late eighteenth century and are still being made. They were popular until about 1860 and were used to help children learn to read. ABC plates were made of pottery, porcelain, metal, or glass. Most have embossed or printed letters around a central transfer design. Benjamin Franklin's maxims or proverbs and other "inspirational" sayings were often used on ABC plates. The same scene can be found on plates of different sizes. Benjamin Franklin wrote seventy-eight maxims or proverbs between 1733-1758 and published them in Poor Richard's Almanack under the title "The Way to Wealth." Mugs and other items were also made with alphabet decorations. The Staffordshire ABC plates sell for about $175. Perhaps we should still listen to Benjamin Franklin. The motto on this plate is: "For age and want save while you may. No morning sun lasts all the day."

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