Pinterest was the first place I saw these plates. They came up on my feed, of course, given that a combination of tableware, animals and travel (particularly to the UK) are the chief subjects of my browsing.
I loved them! They rang my chimes in all three categories. Apparently, the full series of plates, bowls serving dishes can be found in one of the National Trust of England’s properties, Kingston Lacy.
I did some research and began checking all the usual sources for any trace of more of them. Nada. Zip. No bites. Ok – file them under keep an eye out, and see if you can get a lead next time you’re in England.
To my utter delight, this one came up on e-Bay and I jumped on it. It’s the real McCoy – a Minton from somewhere between 1873 and 1891. I was VERY excited.
My interest piqued once more, I redoubled my efforts to track down its fellows. To my surprise, falling down an internet rabbit hole revealed that the National Trust had commissioned a set of replicas around 1990. Yes! (Shall we call them repli-plates? hehe).
These three are some of the replicas. They are a bit smaller than the original plates, and the shoulder of the plate is a little more pronounced. I suspect the etchings on the originals are more finely detailed and likely a lighter shade of blue. It’s hard to tell without comparing them to the originals, of course, but I’m judging by the difference between the one Minton and the three National Trusts’. I’ll let everyone know, though, because i’m going to check this out when I’m in England in September. Kingston Lacy is now on the agenda! Can’t wait.
On to styling the table. Clearly the stars of the show are the frolicking felines. Coordinating with cobalt blue glasses was a natural. I debated going for white Annabelle Hydrangea for the centrepiece, but elected to go with the multicoloured pink, lavender and blue hydrangea that grow so profusely here on the Cape.
These blooms are all from the same couple of bushes. Depending on how acidic or alkaline the soil is, the flowers change colour. I believe more acidic soil produces the blue and more alkaline turns the flowers pink. It’s obviously quite a nuanced experience for the plant, though, as the colour can vary from one flower to the next, even on the same stem.
I broke down and used some floral foam to make the arrangement. The compote is by Mosser, and is an eBay find. The ruffled edge compote is quite shallow, and foam was the only viable option to keep the big mop headed flowers in place.
I set the table and photographed it early in the morning before going on a walk with the dogs. I was pleased with the overall look, but something was bugging me. It felt like something was missing.
The hydrangea were gorgeous, but somehow disconnected from the plates. Then it hit me – I needed to anchor the flowers on the surface of the table, too. The flowers were floating above the action on the table like a balloon. I thought about putting single blooms in the small candle holders, but they’re pretty heavy and would likely topple over.
So I tucked individual blooms into pewter napkin rings. That did the trick.
The cobalt open salt is an e-Bay find. Birds and cats go together!
The cobalt glasses are by Libbey, and also from e-Bay. The candle holders are from a few years ago, when we bought several boxes of them for my daughter Kirsten’s wedding. The Danieli pewter-style flatware is from World Market, and the tablecloth is a HomeGoods purchase.
Happy Monday, everyone!
I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.
What a great table and great story. My sister is a cat fan and until fairly recently she also had a tortoise and her cat and tortoise would play together on the kitchen floor when it was out of his house for exercise. She would love all of them but especially that plate. Love the variety of color in the hydrangeas. Very nice.
Thanks, Lorri! Cats are indeed very playful, and whoever did the etchings sure knew cats. They’re up to no good in every scene. I especially like the fish bowl one. It reminds me of the scene in Lady & Tramp – “We are Siamese, if you please…”.
I love all of it. I had to laugh when I read “cat plates’. Some days I wonder if all of my plates are cat plates while my cats practice for Cirque du Soleil eyeing lunch. LOL
As much as I love the cat plates, I love the salt cellar. You didn’t describe the compote you made the hydrangea arrangement in. Very pretty.
Oh – you are so right! Sorry about that. My husband arrived home after being away for ten days in the middle of posting this blog, and the dogs were going berserk with joy. The noise was tremendous! I got distracted and forgot to attribute a number of things. I’ll fix that now. The compote is currently still full of flowers, but once they’re done, I’ll add a picture of it empty. It’s got a really pretty ruffled edge to it. I got it on eBay, and it’s vintage, by Mosser (whom I’d never heard of until I started looking for cobalt compotes). They’re in Cambridge, Ohio, apparently and still in business, employing about 30 people. Their website is very interesting! It’s a family owned business that was started in 1971 by the son of the former manager of Cambridge glass, which closed in the 1950s.
What a delightful post! Just found your blog. Love the cat plates! If the National Trust commissioned replicas in 1990, you’d think they would be more available. Of course, I don’t see any online. And it looks like no online shop at Kingston Lacy. Good luck on your trip and shopping- Certainly will be a fantastic place to see!
Thanks so much for visiting. I have hopes that I’ll be able to turn up some leads whilst in England. I will keep everyone posted! Have a good weekend.
I found one of these cat plates in a shop today locally whilst looking for a particular book. Knew nothing about the history until coming home and looking it up. Of course I had purchased the National Trust plate. I love cats – we have just taken on another rescue cat- and fell in love with the image. It is the cat on the dresser looking into the cream jug. The plate had a sticky plate hanger on the back which I soaked off with water and thus saw the National Trust Legend. The display of the Hydrangeas drew me to your page. I love hydrangeas and have cuttings taken from my late grandfather’s plants in my garden in his memory. I don’t know if you are aware, but blue glass is a lot harder to work than clear glass. The cobalt creates a flux and makes it much ‘stickier’ to work. You need real muscles to work with cobalt glass. I know, I’ve worked with both in years gone by. Good luck with your travels my dear.
That’s wonderful, Mrs. Holmes! I know you will find a special spot for that plate. They depictions are utterly charming; whoever did the drawings knows their cats! I’ve been able to track down six different National Trust plates, plus the one Minton, which is a different drawing from the six they chose for the National Trust series (I am beginning to conclude there are only six).
I did not know that about cobalt glass! It makes it even more special, then. Besides being gorgeous, it’s also tricky to work with by the sound of it.
Thank you for letting me know about your cat plate adventures. Enjoy your hydrangea. The season is approaching soon.
With kind regards,
Hello, I have just spotted Helen Kain’s post from two years ago.
I actually have a complete set of the National Trust six replica cat plates which I bought when they first came out in the 1990s. I am not sure they are Minton – the National Trust stamp on the back of each plate reads “This plate is a replica of one of the Cat Plates in the Servants Hall at Kingston Lacey, Dorset. The original plates were handed painted circa 1888. Made in England” If the plates were indeed made by Minton, the maker’s mark would have been shown.
However, the charming plate of a kitten playing with a tortoise was not part of the set of six replicas. It must have been from a different set and may well be Minton.
The set of six plates have been much cherished and have been displayed on the wall of my home in London UK for the past 20 years. However, due to redecorating I have decided to part with them. I do so want them to go to a good home.
I was planning to sell them on ebay or Etys, but if any readers of Ms Kain’s excellent article may be interested in purchasing the set of plates (I only want to sell them as a set) as a private arrangement, do please get in touch. I will keep this offer open until September 2019 and will gladly respond to all genuine requests. After September, I will advertise the plates elsewhere.
Minton produced the original series which used to hang in the servant’s hall at the National Trust property of Kingston Lacy. When I visited Kingston Lacy a while ago, however, I was very disappointed to find the collection had been mostly stored away, and only a few of the plates were to be seen in the nursery. It was a real blow.
I don’t know who manufactured the six National Trust replicas; they’re a touch smaller than the Minton originals. The plate with the kitten playing with the tortoise is a Minton original. The rest of the plates on the table are the National Trust replicas. I’ve now compiled a full set of the National Trust six, but it took some doing!
Thank you for offering your set for sale to readers of Entertablement, Mr. Dunford. I hope they find a happy home.
Hi Richard, I am VERY interested in purchasing the full set of plates from you if they are still available. I am also in London too! Please let me know! I’ve been after the whole set for some time. Kate.
Thank you for your interest and yes, the full set of six plates are still available for purchase.
I am about to go down to Cornwall for a few days so shall we catch up after I am back on 10th October? My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.