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Treasures: Amateur decorating on Limoges plate is ‘beautiful’

We think this Limoges dresser tray is lovely, but some current collectors may find it fussy.
We think this Limoges dresser tray is lovely, but some current collectors may find it fussy. TNS

Q: This Limoges plate measures 7 1/4 by 11 inches. Please let me know the value. I am enclosing pictures. Thanks in advance.

C.

A: This is not a “plate” at all but a dresser tray that once graced a lady’s dressing table and held such things as a cologne bottle, a ring tree, a small box for holding pins and the like, perhaps a powder box, hat pin holder and so forth.

C. identifies this tray as having been made in “Limoges” and this is correct. Limoges is a city in France about 200 miles south of Paris, and pottery has been made there for a very long time. But in 1768, the wife of the local doctor in the village of Saint Yrieix, not far from Limoges, discovered a white earth that turned out to be kaolin — one of the two major ingredients of Chinese-style hard paste porcelain.

Tressemann and Vogt did not start manufacturing porcelain until 1891 and the partnership broke up in 1907 — yet this piece was probably painted in June 1908.

This is significant because Chinese-style hard paste porcelain had not been widely made in France before this because the ingredients could not be sourced locally. The discovery led to a porcelain-making industry springing up in Limoges with production beginning in the late 18th century.

Over the years, dozens of companies have made porcelain in Limoges, but the dresser tray in today’s question was made by Tressemann (or Tressemanes) & Vogt, who marked their wares with the T & V symbol seen on the piece in today’s question. This firm did not start manufacturing porcelain until 1891 and the partnership broke up in 1907 — yet this piece is dated and was probably painted in June 1908. How could that be?

It’s simple, really. While Tressemann and Vogt did decorate some wares, they exported many “blanks” or undecorated white wares to china painters. One of these amateur china painters bought a Tressemann and Vogt dresser tray blank and decorated it beautifully with beautiful pink and purple-red roses complete with trailing thorned vines and atmospheric background.

Luckily the painter was talented and the result is a beautiful representation — unlike many others, which can be rather unattractive. Collectors tend to prefer their Limoges pieces to be decorated in the factory where the blanks were made or in professional decorating facilities, but skillfully done amateur decorating jobs are acceptable. Insurance replacement value is approximately $100 to $150.

Write to Joe Rosson, 2504 Seymour Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917, or email treasures@knology.net. Include a high-resolution, in-focus photo of the subject.

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