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WEDGWOOD College Plates - An Overview

Wedgwood issued its first set of College Plates in 1927, 12 views of Harvard University in blue. They chose a fruit and floral border that had been used on Harvard dining hall china c.1840. The following year, a set of twelve plates was issued for Saint Paul's Preparatory School in Concord, New Hampshire, many of whose graduates go on to college at Harvard. A border featuring oak leaves, acorns and squirrels was chosen to reflect the rural nature of this boys' school. [See St. Paul plates for more detail]

Several other schools had plates issued in 1929, and by 1930 these plates had proved so popular that most prestigious colleges were commissioning them. In most cases, these plates were issued in series of eight or twelve views for each school, and, in many cases, a school commissioned plates in more than one color or more than one series. A few schools' sets contain additional pieces such as cups and saucers, bowls, platters and serving plates such as those used for salad, dessert or breads.

"Fair Alma Mater, Ever Dear--"  So begins an article written in 1931 by folks at Jones, McDuffee & Stratton in a pamphlet they distributed advertising their Historical Blue Plates and college plates. JMS was located in Boston and was the sole US agent for Wedgwood Pictorial Plates as they were then called. JMS was in business well over 100 years and the story of this famous seller of crockery and Wedgwood business partner is very interesting. We normally have the book written for their 100th anniversary in stock, check our book listings for 'A Century of Uninterrupted Progress'. The 1931 article continues thusly: "An English lecturer met one of our officials on shipboard, and incidentally learned with interest of these American college plates. After his tour he paid us a visit and related his 'plate' adventures. At four widely separated dinners given in his honor, he said, his college-bred host served him from college plates, explaining in each case enthusiastically and authoritatively their design, manufacture, and - most important - the scenes of his particular college.

As a means of stimulating renewed interest in campus affairs among the alumni group, the sponsorship of commemorative plates has played an important part.

Likewise in lighter vein a university hostess recounted how her college plates 'saved' a dinner party. A difficult group became so interested and enthusiastic about the plates the 'the dinner was made even before the soup was served'.

College commemorative plates, being a source of pride to their owners, are worth much to the colleges that distribute them. They stimulate alumni interest, keep college scenes constantly before the owners and their friends, enable the college or a college organization to raise easily a sum of money for some college cause, and accomplish other desirable results."


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