Yes, it’s a bathtub. Seriously. It’s one of a set of antique French Faience plates featuring an assortment of unusually purposed vehicles.
Who could resist?
These came to light when I was looking for the final pieces of similarly bordered French Faience bicycle plates, also by HBCM (Hippolyte Boulenger-Criel Montereau) in France, likely manufactured between 1920 and 1950. I was able to find only four in this series, but judging from the numbering on the top of the plates, there are probably a dozen of them. This one, Automobile-Baignoire (literally, Automobile Bath) is number 11 (XI). Its caption “Le grand sucrés des villes d’eaux appareil chauffant le bain, la douche, le linge actionnant la baignoire et permeffant a la fois de suivre son traitement et de faire ses excursions. translates roughly (very roughly) to:
The sweet position of the water apparatus heating the bath, the shower, and the towel permits both bathing and making an excursion.
Fiacre-Automobile is not numbered; Its translation is Carriage Automobile. Not very exotic, so may not be part of the series, but provides a note of polite sobriety. However, the caption:” Ou coupé de matire, avec devaux et cocher en carton pour conserver l’elegance et ne pas affrayer les autre chevaux.” means: of master cut, the horses are made from cardboard material to preserve elegance and not scare the other horses. Sounds like it is part of the series.
Automobile de Campagne is number 6 (VI). This one is the “Country Vehicle”. It reads “Automobile moulin-a-vent, actionee par le zephir, et a l’aide de laquelle le meunier peut mouere son grain ense redant a la foire voisine.” meaning Windmill autombiles, driven by the west wind so the miller can grind his grain at the neighbouring fair.
And Automobile De La Gloire is tough to make out, but I think it’s number 10 (X). It’s “The Glory Vehicle”. It reads “Les automobiles! une invention moderne! … allons done…Les Invalos s’en servent depuis la bataille de Wagram!”, meaning Cars! A Modern Invention! Let’s go… The invaders have used them since the battle of Wagram! (a battle in the Napoleonic wars).
Who thinks these things up? It made for a fun table, however.
The faience plates are quite casual, so I carried on with that vibe with the galvanized chargers (Pottery Barn several years ago) and the plain navy Pacifica plates from Williams Sonoma.
The navy and taupe ginger jar style urn was from Pier 1 last year. I bought a pair of them for the dining room at the Cape. They provide a nice gravitas, though they were very reasonably priced.
One often sees blue & white; the navy and taupe was an unusual combination and fits in so well with a lot of my ironstone tableware.
The tablecloth is actually a quilt from Bed Bath ‘n Beyond. The Cece napkins from Wayfair a few years ago carry on the colour combination.
Smoke coloured goblets in etched Bohemian Crystal were from Laurel Leaf Farms several years ago. I have five of the larger ones and seven of the small ones; they get a lot of use.
Danieli Flatware from World Market and “spoon” napkin rings from Pottery Barn aeons ago picked up the pewter tones of the chargers.
As did the little pewter shell salt & peppers.
HBCM seems to have produced several whimsical series of plates. I determined they also made the Opera Series (I called it Musical Score) that I got from Elise Abrams Antiques almost a decade ago.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this zany table setting! Have a great day!
I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.
What fun, Helen! I love this set. You really have an eye for allowing the plates to star and toning down the table colours.
The fiacre is in fact numbered as X, and its translation has to do with the coupé (a cut-in-half version of the old horse-drawn carriage that seated 4-6 people facing each other). When the coupé auto came onto the scene, it featured only frontward-facing seats. That yours has cardboard footman and horses is just wonderful Frenchy tongue-in-cheek silliness (remember, they loved Jerry Lewis!) But I’d give my eye teeth for the windmill. I’m awaiting my Microlino, though, which will probably garner almost as much attention. Here’s the latest video.
Beatrice, that Microlino is a hoot! It looks like a Richard Scarry vehicle, Lowly Worm’s Apple Car and Applecopter. My granddaughters giggle hysterically about Lowly Worm and his underpant (singular, as he is tube-shaped).
Thanks for the clarification on the seating arrangments in the coupé. Suddenly it makes sense. And yes, the French seem to have a real sense of the ridiculous. Probably why I like their zany tableware so much.
We will take delivery next year…I was overruled on the red because it would look too apple-y. We hope to become regional dealers and ambassadors because our valley runs on 98% renewable energy (hydro). It should be a hoot to run around in! Racing the new Merc e-car last year, we learned you have to be very careful, because electric cars make no sound, and pedestrians will step out into your path with no warning.
For another delightfully silly set of dishes, see Iittala’s “tanssi” series based on The Cunning Little Vixen. It has a lot of colours that would go with your settings for fall. Disclaimer…I’ve never dealt with this website, but they have some interesting stuff.
Very much like a golf cart, we understand. There are a lot of electric cars here in Canada, and that’s one of the things people have to be careful of – unwary pedestrians!
I love Iittala’s Tanssi. I’ve got the salad plates and the mugs. There is something about the expression on the deer? fox? whatever the whimsical creature is that reminds me of my youngest daughter, Lauren, who is a character. It’s a bit of devilment!