|IRONSTONE PLATE WITH "VOTES FOR WOMEN" TEXT, MADE JOHN MADDOCK & SONS FOR SUFFRAGIST ALVA BELMONT FOR MARBLE HOUSE, HER FAMOUS ESTATE IN NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND, Circa 1914
|Frame Size (H x L):||Approx. 13" x 13"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||9" diameter|
|Porcelain objects related to the Suffrage movement are extremely scarce. The most celebrated of all American suffrage dinnerware consists of a service of white ironstone, commissioned by Alva Belmont,* prominent Newport, Rhode Island, socialite. Belmont was the founder of a pro-suffrage group called the Political Equality Association. According to Suffrage memorabilia expert Ken Folley, "There are at least eight different examples known in this design, including a cup and saucer, a lunch or dinner plate, a salad or bread plate, a berry bowl, a soup bowl, a celery dish and a small creamer."** Some of these pieces were ordered by Belmont for events at her famous Newport estate, Marble House, beginning in 1909 and continuing through at least 1914. Others--the creamer in particular--are known to have been sold for fundraising efforts and were made available for purchase at her organization’s lunchroom, located at its headquarters in New York City.
The Political Equality Association lunchroom was especially popular. According to author Ina Bort, writing for the New York Historical Society, it was a place “where working-class women could purchase a nutritious meal for a little as five cents,” and where men were just as welcome as women. The establishment served as many as 115 men per day. Belmont opened 11 street level social clubs to serve the Suffrage movement. Bort explains that Suffrage china was also in use at another lunchroom, run by Mrs. Sophia Kramer, located at the 15th Assembly District Club house at 120 West 81st Street. “A 1911 article in The Flaming Sword,” says Bort, “described ‘[t]he more energetic women in New York,’ who ‘make of their [suffrage] cause a religion, and of their religion a business’—and a well-run, lucrative one at that—‘label their goods, and offer you votes for women glasses to drink from, votes for women dishes to eat from, votes for women table linen for breakfast, dinner, and supper.’ ” [Source: Bort, Ina. “Suffrage on the Menu, Part III: Alva’s Political Equality Association Lunchroom,” (07/18/17, New York Historical Society, http://behindthescenes.nyhistory.org/suffrage-menu-alva-vanderbilt-belmont/)
Ironstone china dating to 1909 appears to have been ordered from the English producer Minton, a well-known maker. More appears to have been ordered in 1914 , when Belmont hosted the Council of Great Women Conference in 1914 at Marble House, this time from another prolific English ironstone manufacturer, John Maddock & Sons. It was at this time that she also opened a China tea house on the grounds of Marble House and celebrated the return of her daughter, Consuelo, from the U.K..
This dinner plate, measuring 9 inches in diameter, was made by Maddock and is so marked on the reverse. It represents the largest of the ironstone objects that I know of with the “Votes for Women” slogan. Modern reproductions of the various pieces abound, not made by Minton or Maddock, and are available today. Originals are rare.
Provenance: Formerly in the Collection of Ken Folley.
Mounting: The plate was mounted in an archival fashion and placed in a black-painted and hand-gilded Italian molding. A shadow box was created to accommodate the depth of the object. The glass is conservation clear museum glass.
Condition: There are minor spots of discoloration and minor staining, but the overall condition is excellent.
* Alva Erskine Smith Vanderbilt Belmont, formerly married to William K. Vanderbilt, grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt.
** Folley, Keneth, "Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia, An Illustrated Historical Study," (2013, McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina), p. 68-71.
|Collector Level:||Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1914|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1914|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|