Reproductions in cup plates cannot be considered a serious threat to collectors today, because there are so few of them. Exactly ten have been produced in this country up to 1948. It is a simple enough matter to detect the new ones, because there is no ring to the glass. Of course one must know how to go about testing them. By holding the cup plates securely in the center with the thumb on one side and the forefinger on the other, with no other part of the hand touching the glass, it is easy to tap it with a pencil or any metallic object and listen for the telltale sound. In the case of most old plates, there is a clear resounding ring. From the new plates, one hears a flat, deadened thud. While there are some old cup plates that were made from window or bottle glass and therefore do not have a bell tone, it so happens that any of the plates which have been copied so far do ring in the originals. The great harm reproductions do to new collectors is to make them suspicious of every plate. Many good pieces are rejected which really are authentic, thereby nipping in the bud more than one promising collector.
The first fake to come on the market was the Henry Clay facing to the left with a star under the bust. It appeared along about 1922 or 1923. Aside from the fact that it does not ring, there are minor differences in the design. The lettering is smaller, the letters having plain ends. The scrolls in the center and all border designs are lighter and skimpy. The lettering of “Henry” is too small and the “Clay” too large. It was made in blue, as well as in clear glass.
The next reproduction of a Henry Clay appeared in recent years and the chief differences are in the plain ends of the letters, which are bereft of serifs. The bust is that of a boy with a receding chin, small nose and high rounding forehead. This plate appeared in pink and in clear glass.
Four Reproduction cup plates
For some strange reason, the Henry Clay was again chosen as a plate to copy in France, apparently for export to this country. One may be seen with the paper label MADE IN FRANCE prominently displayed. It was produced in several colors, including light blue, pink and a deep salmon shade. Should the paper label be removed, this plate is still easy to detect aside from its nonringing quality. There are many discrepancies in the design. The head is shaped differently from that in any of our old ones, having a more prominent forehead. The lettering is smaller, the star under the bust is smaller and the dots surrounding the bust are very light. The shields in the border are noticeably much too shallow. The serrations on the edge are large and even. Old serrations are never absolutely even.
Along about 1923 the first reproduction of the ship Benjamin Franlelin appeared. It was made at this time in sapphire blue and in clear glass. There are a number of discrepancies in the design but, even so, the workmanship is better than in the more recent copies.
The older fraud shows slight waves under the boat, whereas they are heavy on the original plate. The bell is entirely different in the new, and the cable cord surrounding the center is heavier. There are minor discrepancies in the design, such as: the plain ends of the letters, that is, no serif; and no walking beam over the paddle wheel. Some of the details in the old are missing in the new.
Four Reproduction Cup Plates
Some seven or eight years later, another copy of the ship Benjamin Franklin was produced by the Westmoreland Glass Company. Their product may also be seen adorned with their company paper label. In the old plate the stippling has a silvery sheen, while there is no luster to the new. The rope rigging appears to be rope in the original, but is hardly more than a rippled line on the new. The same evenness of the scalloped edge is apparent. As stated before, these are never exactly even on the old. The lettering is better on the Wescmoreland copy than in the earlier (1923) version.
The first of the epidemic of new cup plates made during the early 1930′s was a copy of the Butterfly. It was made by a mid-western factory on order for a private party in central New York Scare, who paid fifty dollars for the mold. The whole country was flooded with them in clear glass and in colors. Many were sold in gift shops for 35¢ co 50¢ each.
The factory, seeing how quickly the Butterflies flew into antique shops, decided to make a few other varieties on their own. At any rate, the Bunker Hill, Thirteen Hearts, the Henry Clay with star under the bust, dared 1831 Eagle, and the Before and After Marriage, as well as the Benjamin Franklin previously described, all appeared in rapid succession. A Butterfly plate in a toddy size, which was never made originally, appeared in gift shops at this period.
Three Reproduction Cup Plates
The Butterfly reproduction has the usual discrepancies in work have a wide sale. Collectors of cup plates who take their hobby seriously develop a practiced eye for small details, so when the new plates appear in antique shops, they are not easily deceived. The old plate is three and a half inches in diameter, while the new is three and three-eighths inches. The fake has dots in between the lettering, while the old has dots or stars.
In the case of the old Valentine cup plate, the stippling is heavier and more evenly distributed than on the new. The original is heavier and, of course, has a good, clear ring when tapped. The new Valentine has a thinner stippling, which is thicker and heavier in some spots than in others. The design does not have the same depth or brilliance. Then, too, the old plate is a trifle smaller than the new. The reproduction is shown on Plate 39.
Confusing to new collectors is a series of commemorative plates which have historical significance but are strictly modern. In the upper left-hand corner of Plate 42 is a New York World’s Fair souvenir which is so marked and elated 1939. The center design in the base pictures the sphere and trylon, familiar to all those who attended the Fair. Probably all this series of plates was planned to serve a double purpose-a souvenir to take home which was readily adaptable to use as an ash tray.
Four Modern Souvenir Cup Plates
The cup plate in the upper right-hand corner of Plate 42 is marked and dated, MELROSE-1845-TURNER. It has been said that these were souvenirs sold at a garden festival in Natchez, Miss. Beneath the plate just described, in the lower right-hand corner, is a similar one showing a building in the center and marked MOUNT REPOSE-1824-BISLAND.
At the lower left is a modern plate which may be another from a World’s Fair series. It carries a paper label inscribed, HISTORICAL AMERICA. In the center is a view of Mount Vernon, marked accordingly. The border is ribbed and carries a design of acorns and oak leaves.
Not illustrated is another souvenir plate of the Golden Gate World’s Fair in California. Confusing to new collectors are two Washington cup plates which are not reproductions but purely commemorative pieces. It will be noted that one is marked G. WASHINGTON, 1732-1799 and the other is marked “G. Washington, 1732-1932.” Obviously, one carries the dates of his birth and death, and the other honors the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Farber of Our Country. It is thought that these were also a World’s Fair souvenir.
Two Modern Washington Souvenir Cup Plates
Open-edge dish not a true cup plate. Odd Plate at lower right is old but ground off.
In the lower row of Plate 43 at the right is a cup plate with the scalloped edge ground smooth. Some unsuspecting collector might well come across such a plate, always found with a serrated edge, and feel he had found an unknown variant. It is always well to scrutinize such an oddity with care.
In the lower left-hand corner of Plate 43 is a Iittle, open chain-bordered three-and-a-quarter-inch item which is not a true cup plate, though some have been added to collections as such. It is not a reproduction of an old piece because it is modern. It is simply not a cup plate.
Some of the fakes often have artificial age marks added, such as the chip on the Henry Clay on Plate 39. Besides the many distinguishing characteristics of old and new, as noted, remember that the quality of the glass tells the story. At least it does on the ten copied to date in this country, for any of the originals should have an unmistakable ring to the glass.
In particular, collectors and dealers should not be discouraged by reading advertisements stating that cup plates are being made from original molds. The following appeared in the Boston Herald one bright morning in 1947, accompanied by a photograph of reproductions of seven old cup plates plus a modern Washington souvenir plate, pictured on our Plate 43. The quotation is exact:
Lacy Sandwich Glass. Precious Little Cup Plates (measurements 3 1/4″ in diameter) . You’ll find every one of these listed in the antique glass books. They are currently produced from old molds-even an expert has trouble telling the old ones from these of modern day.
Left to right-top row by names: Benjamin Franklin, Bunker Hill, Henry Clay, Butterfly. Bottom row-The Wedding Day and Three Weeks Later, Hearts and Darts, Washington, 1831 Eagle. 8 Assorted to set. $2.50 set,
The “Hearts and Darts” refers to the Valentine. A letter to the Boston Better Business Bureau protesting the statements that these cup plates were made from old molds and that even an expert would have difficulty in telling them from the old brought an equally prompt reply from the bureau stating an investigation had been made and that the writer was correct. The letter stated further that the store under whose name the advertising appeared had acted on information given them by the agent selling them the cup plates and that the glass would not be advertised again in the same manner. A great deal of damage was done, but at least it was stopped quickly. Collectors and dealers alike would be doing an infinite amount of good by reporting to their local chambers of commerce or better business bureaus, any similar misstatements.
This appeared first in 1938 in Antique Fakes and Reproductions. It was rewritten and added to American Glass Cup Plates by Ruth Webb Lee and James H. Rose in 1948.