Combed, Painted Mustard Plate Looks OldBy

Combed, Painted Mustard Plate Looks Old

This new 10-inch hand painted wood plate closely copies a mid-19th century style of decoration.

The body is a mustard color with black border trim and date. A slightly darker mustard color is trailed and combed over the entire surface. It was sold by a national mail order firm for $22. Although honestly sold as a country decorative item, these pieces almost inevitably turn up in the antiques market.

There are a couple of clues to its recent manufacture. First, the date is suspiciously late for this style of decoration. The combed and trailed technique was at its height of popularity around the middle of the 19th century, ca. 1835-1870. In most authentic dated pieces, the date is incidental to the overall decoration and does not appear as large as it does on the new plate. Most authentic dates appear on presentation pieces like those given for weddings, births, anniversaries, etc. where the date appears much smaller than names and other information.

Most authentic lettering and dates are virtually always solid colors applied with a brush. Look closely at the numbers in the date and you'll see they are very blotchy, not solid, similar to stick-decorated ceramics. The numbers have apparently been applied with a rubber stamp or carved sponge. The flower petals are also blotchy as if applied with rubber stamps or sponges.