THE DINNER PARTY SET – Part 2 by Eric Knowles


The Dinner Set Conversation continues

Having already given serious thought to my choice of both table glass and silver in my previous offering I have now had a little time to mull over and make the all-important decision with regard to the choice of dinner service.

So following a serious search of the website, I chanced upon a truly splendid plate dating to 1795 and created at Mr William Duesbury’s porcelain works in the fair city of Derby

Now once again let me take this opportunity to re-emphasise that as I have allowed myself to dress a purely fantasy table setting think not just this single plate but a set of at least eight with matching accessories such as sauce tureens with ladles plus whatever.

As for this plate the centre is hand-painted with a remarkable botanical study named on the reverse in Latin as ‘Anemonefolium’ or in good old English ‘Anemone-Leaved Geranium’ all in blue script as is the Crown above crossed batons mark used by Duesbury.

Now my much learned colleague at Scottish Antiques, Robert, has offered an interesting footnote that traces the image to a 1792 publication from a Mr William Cutis’s October edition of his ‘Botanical Magazine’ and notes that the Derby plate in question offers a faithful copy. The decoration is enhanced by a narrow gilt band a rim that will come alive by candlelight – a fact I made known in my previous offering.

Splendid though my fantasy service might be I’m afraid that as far as my fantasy guests are concerned none will be let loose with a knife and fork as the plates will never see a pork chop or a Brussel sprout but will function purely as dress plates soon to be swopped for my modern day white and gilt edged Royal Worcester bone china and which after use will be washed and dried by my good self alongside the previously chosen table glass.

The thought did occur to me that it might make a certain amount of sense to confine my dinner guests to well know gardening celebrities that might include Monty Don, Carol Klein, Joe Swift Rachel De Thame, Christine Walkden – yes she from Rishton in Lancashire and not forgetting the multi-tasking darling of the National Trust, romantic novelist and all round Yorkshire Tyke Mr Alan Titchmarsh often spotted wandering across Ilkley Moor both with and without his hat.

Having given each guest a plate decorated with an individual botanical study I thought it might prove fun to ask each of them to identify their particular subject and then without letting any of them have a sneaky look under the base tax their brains even further by asking for the Latin name.

Probably an absolute doddle for a group who treat Latin as their second language with perhaps the exception of Alan whose first language is that of God’s chosen county – as incidentally is that of the aforementioned Robert (albeit he is fluent in several other European languages).

So, all sorted apart from the ultimate essential for any dinner party and the one so often overlooked – the corkscrew!

Given the choice I would have to go early to mid 19th century with a Kings rack and pinion mechanism by Maplebeck and Lowe of Birmingham or something similar by Thomason, hopefully applied with a brass band embossed with both a regal Lion and handsome Unicorn. Regrettably neither of which are currently available on the website but keep an eye on our corkscrews if they are of interest to you as it is only be a matter of time.

Meanwhile thanks to all for allowing me to let my mind wander whilst being forever being mindful that this might be a swift read for you whilst being nothing less than ‘therapy’ for me

Now what’s for starters?

Best Wishes for 2020

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