Gypsy Trail Chop Plate with Lady Slipper design

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Question:

Attached are photos of a Red Wing pottery plate, a prototype 15 inch “Lady Slipper” plate possibly from the 1950’s, that never went into production.  My sister, who has the plate, is looking for “official” authentication. 

There are no Red Wing markings on the back of the plate (second attachment), possibly because this was a prototype and not a production item. 

According to my mother, the plate in the photos was one of a possible twelve sample plates made.  She said that it was purchased by my grandmother at the old showroom.

I trust this inquiry will be taken seriously.  My father, and later my mother, managed the Red Wing Pottery factory store in Rapid City from it’s opening in 1960 until it closed.  Her verbal authentication has been good enough for us so far.

Answer:

From 1935 to 1943 Red Wing made a 15 inch plate as part of the extensive Gypsy Trail line.  This plate was promoted as a chop plate or sandwich tray and was available in the standard Gypsy Trail colors (blue, turquoise, yellow, orange and ivory).  The owner’s photo shows a plate that with a floral decoration that appears to have been painted on a white 15 inch Gypsy Trail chop plate. 

A few years ago a 15 inch plate with a similar floral pattern was listed several times on the eBay auction site.  This gives credence to the owner’s statement that his plate was one of 12 sample plates that were made.   But the eBay plate generated some controversy among dinnerware collectors because of the number of rings on the back of the plate.  Known Red Wing plates of this size have an outer foot ring plus one additional inner ring.  The owner’s plate and the eBay plate both have two inner rings rather than one.  We have also found 15” chop plates with two inner rings in the standard Gypsy Trail colors.  The diameters of the broad rim and the plate itself also seem to differ slightly.  The rim on my plate is about 2.5 inches wide and the plate is 14.75 inches in diameter.  The plate in your photo appears to have a 3 inch rim and the plate is nearly 15 inches in diameter. 

To this point we have not been able to prove or disprove whether these 15” chop plates with two inner rings were made by Red Wing or by a competitor.  It’s possible the single inner ring plates were made earlier in production and at some point Red Wing made a change to two inner rings with slightly different diameters.  But we have no documentation on the subject.  Brochures do not include exact measurements and show only the front surface of the plate, not the bottom.  We also have seen no documentation on group of 12 sample plates.  Without a company mark on this plate and given the concern about the number of rings, it is not possible to say with certainty that this sample plate was made by Red Wing.  Also, most Red Wing sample plates had markings of some kind on the back.  The word “sample”, glaze codes or temperature codes were usually present on samples.  More likely this plate would be a “lunch hour” piece made by a pottery worker for personal use or as a gift for a family member or friend.  Most lunch hour dinnerware pieces were made in the mid 1940s to early 1950s; the plate and the glaze colors used on this plate fit that period. 

Bottom line:  In my opinion this plate was made as a lunch hour piece by a Red Wing Potteries worker.  But it’s only my opinion since we have no documentation to prove it. 

Larry