In Virginia, about 20 miles or so from Norfolk, there is a beautiful little town named Smithfield, which, although famous for their hams, has developed into a primary spot for tourists looking for antiques, a good bed and breakfast, a fantastic bakery, and an old-fashioned ice-cream parlor. About ten years ago Dale and I were Christmas shopping in
Smithfield, wandering around a huge antique mall, when I spotted a porcelain plate with a very familiar image. “Dale, look at this!” I practically shouted to him from the other end of the store. “It’s a Peter Pan plate with Maude Adams!”
I must confess that despite some pretty good acting skills, I am not particularly well versed in acting nonchalant when U see something I want or like. In fact, I am quite certain that if the item I want is not already tagged with a price the shop-keeper will often double what they had in mind before seeing me. Luckily, in this case, the plate was priced at $35. “I’m buying this,” I said to Dale as he approached me from the other end of the aisle.
“How did you recognize it from so far away?” he asked. I told him that I had a photo-postcard from 1905 with the same image. After purchasing the plate and a few items, we ate a late lunch at the bakery and started for home, which was still in North Carolina. Dale looked up information about the porcelain company on the internet: L. S. & S Carlsbad, Austria. There was no info on a Peter Pan series or even this particular plate but we did lean that L. Straus and Son manufactured and imported porcelain and glassware from Europe including England, France, Germany, and Czechoslovakia (then Austria). L. Straus & Sons was founded in New York City by Lazarus Straus in 1869, as importers of crockery. They had factories or offices in London, Paris, Limoges, Rudolstadt, Kamenicky Senov, and Karlovy Vary. The Karlovy Vary operation was a porcelain factory in Stará Role (Altrohlau, Bohemia, Austria). In 1874 Nathan, the son of Lazarus Straus, convinced the company Macy’s to permit the Straus firm to have a small glass & china ware department in their store, the first china and glassware to be sold by in the store.
Looking up the stamp on the back of the plate we were able to date it from 1905 to 1919, although it was probably closer to 1905 to 1910, when Adams and Pan were at the height of their popularity. I have never seen another copy of this plate nor any others depicting Maude Adams/Peter Pan that might have been part of a series. There are several companies that have created porcelain plates and bowls featuring images from illustrated books of Peter Pan but I’d love to know if there is more L.S. & S. Carlsbad porcelain out there with images from the first American stage production. Please let me hear from anyone who knows more about this or, even better, has images to share. Thanks much! (And happy Christmas shopping to everyone. I buy Christmas presents year round when something strikes my fancy, so I am finished. Tee hee hee.)