Petrus Regout, son of a trader in pottery, began faience production in 1836 in Maastricht, Holland. The soft red clay body of the simple pottery he produced found a ready local market. In order to expand, however, Regout had to compete with British creamware, so he turned to making china like these plates. The Nankin pattern with its Chinese motifs was probably named for the city of Nanking in southern China. The brown printed mark on the reverse of these plates was used beginning in 1881, indicated by the words "Made in Holland," which the pottery was obligated to use when they made such close copies of the British wares. The mark changed in 1899, when the pottery was renamed "De Sphinx."
The brown transfer pattern with touches of gilt also reflects the Aesthetic Movement theory of artistically arranged designs. Aestheticism encouraged a more random placement of motifs in opposition to rigid Victorian design principles. There was also a fascination with Asian motifs like the prunus blossoms, fans and bamboo fence on these plates.
These scarce plates each measure 7 3/4 inches across, are about 1/2 inch high and weigh around 8 ounces. In addition to the gilding that highlights many of the designs, the rims are also gilded, as well as scalloped and embossed. As to condition, we are brutally honest where it is concerned---there isn't a perfectly perfect plate in the lot. Some have a tiny edge chip (oh, those wire wall hangers), a few have knife cuts and almost all have shadowy underglaze discolorations to some degree. The gilding around the edges is worn, though not excessively. The two plates with the most noticeable issues are pictured in the last photograph (be sure to zoom). That being said, they all do display nicely, though, and work well with other brown transfer pieces and look especially good with copper lustre tea leaf ironstone items. Imagine a plate rack filled with these antique transferware plates....beautiful!