A most exciting Melbourne discovery for the new year is a pair of rare royal porcelain plates first commissioned to the order of King George III in 1805. They were manufactured by the acclaimed Worcester porcelain factory during the Barr, Flight & Barr partnership, operating 1804-1813, and replacements were also later ordered.
During this period, porcelain with rich personalised designs including heraldic crests were the height of fashion and were ordered by monarchs, aristocrats, and gentry.
King George III was known for favouring extravagant designs and spending large sums on porcelain; he ordered no less than six services from the Worcester factory. His favour for the porcelain company became evident further in 1807, when he awarded the company with the Royal Warrant.
Each plate is richly decorated with cobalt borders finely gilded with berried laurel sprigs, oak garlands alternately enclosing the crowned cipher of ‘GR’, and sprigs of national flowers tied with ribbons. The central reserve bears the crest of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.
The prestigious Order of the Garter was established by King Edward III in 1348, who was inspired by the legendary tales of King Arthur and the knights of the round table to form his own collective of honourable knights. Centuries later, it is known as the oldest and most senior order of chivalry in Britain.
Appointments into the order are solely at the sovereign’s discretion (currently The Prince of Wales), and is limited to twenty-four living members, including members of the British Royal family and foreign monarchs. Membership is traditionally in recognition of a national contribution for outstanding public service or personal service to the Royal family. Famous members of the Garter include former Prime Ministers Sir John Major and Winston Churchill, with the most recent addition to the order this year being Sir Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
These plates remain rare on the open market, with most residing within the Royal Collection Trust.
As valuers and auctioneers, it is always exciting to discover these treasures and share the history with fellow collectors and admirers.
This pair of plates will feature in our forthcoming Decorative Arts and Asian Works of Art auction on 7 March 2022.
CHIARA CURCIO / Head of Decorative Arts
Banner Image: Two Rare Worcester (Barr, Flight And Barr) Porcelain Armorial Monogrammed Plates From ‘the George III Service’. $12,000 – 15,000