Alas, for my crockery and stone china! Scarcely one article remained unbroken.
I should have felt more thankful had the crocks been spared too; for, like most of my sex, I had a tender regard for china, and I knew that no fresh supply could be obtained in this part of the world....
A year after the Moodies’ sleigh accident, Grace Sutherland unpacked her own china. The date on the plate affirms this was not part of her original collection, but rather acquired later. Legend has it that it was brought back from England, most likely the Sutherlands' trip to the
This plate is not representative of the Rose Medallion pattern, which generally features a central gold medallion with a bird and flower inset. Flanking the medallion are four or more panels featuring people, birds, and/or butterflies. The plates generally boast five colors. In fact, the “Rose” in “Rose Medallion” refers not to the flower—indeed, peonies were the flower of choice—but to the color rose, which dominated. Instead, this plate and the others appear to be Rose Canton. That said, this distinction is minor: Rose Canton does not feature people or birds, only flowers. (To complicate things, Rose Mandarin features flowers and people, but not birds.) They are all in the same color family, feature the same aesthetic, and were produced by the same factories; it is simply a distinction in subject matter that determines what the pattern is called—and it is a distinction made primarily by contemporary collectors and appraisers, less relevant to consumers of the mid-nineteenth century.
Rose Medallion and its counterparts were first created in eighteenth-century
For Sutherland to purchase such china is telling. It was not meant to be used, but rather intended for display. As such, it made clear to visitors that the owners had disposable income, as well as exhibiting the value they placed on fine things. Overall, it seems to have been a marker of upward mobility and class position. And yet I have also found references to Rose Medallion and its counterparts as “gaudy,” “garish,” and “gloppy,” as well as “crowded and fussy.” (I’ll admit I had to look up “gloppy,” which apparently means “soft and soggy; mushy.”) I’ve been thinking a lot about these descriptions. In part, I think such an assessment is a reflection of the turn in many early nineteenth-century
The somewhat-derisive adjectives did make me consider the possibility that Thomas Sutherland was prone to the nouveau riche tendency to not recognize the distinctions so clear to their more established counterparts. But I dismissed this rather quickly: it appears that Rose Medallion simply signified something different in the