Antique Gibson Girl Promotional Plate by McNicol Pottery for The Household Outfitting Co circa 1910
Everyone is cordially invited. Come one! Come all! (from the grand opening advertisement)
It's not often that we can extract so many specific details about one antique luncheon-sized plate, but in this case, we can share several stories from history. Made by McNicol Pottery in the early 1900s, this antique Gibson girl-style plate tells three different stories covering art, manufacturing and entrepreneurialism in the early 20th century. Let's look...
1. The Portrait: Like fellow artist Charles Dana Gibson and his famous Gibson Girls illustrations, the artist of this portrait plate was commercially sought-after British American illustrator Archie Gunn (1863-1930) who made a career out of painting portraits of beautiful women for magazines and posters from the late 1800s-to the early 1900s. Charles Dana Gibson's ideal woman was his wife Irene Langhorne Gibson (1873-1956) and her five sisters. For Archie, it was his model muse, Mabel Andrews, who embodied classic features, a slim figure and graceful poise. Both the Gibson Girls and Archie's portraits of these ideal women became incredibly popular representing beauty, strength, intelligence, femininity, fashion and independence with their curvaceous angles, pompadour hairstyles, and rosy complexions. For 15 years, this idea of feminine beauty ruled supreme and these ideal women could be found in all areas of mainstream life and marketing from clothing stores to advertising to household products. Archie painted this portrait (possibly featuring Mabel Andrews) in 1908.
2. The Maker: This plate was made by McNicol Pottery in West Virginia in 1910. It features the Carnation shape which is comprised of a scalloped edge, a gold painted rim, and an embossed ric rac style design. McNicol operated between 1874 and 1952, first in East Liverpool, OH and then in Clarksville, West Virginia. They made dishware for both the hospitality industry and the domestic market and were known for their high quality.
3. The Department Store Promotion: On September 6th, 1910 The Household Outfitting Company of Syracuse NY opened its doors to the general public for the first time. In true Mr. Selfridge fashion, this home furnishings store offered a dynamic and elevated shopping experience for anyone interested in interior decorating. Comprised of six floors and covering over 30,000 square feet, H.O.C sold rugs, draperies, furniture, and everything else in between that one might need to create a comfortable and beautiful home. On opening day, all the ladies who visited the store received a complimentary promotional gift - this plate - as not only a thank you gift but also a symbol of the beauty and quality that The Household Outfitting Company represented. It was an exciting event in town, and to prove their commitment to the community and to the respectability of their business H.O.C. didn't sell any merchandise on that first day. The grand opening was just reserved for introducing their inventory to customers and the Household Outfitters shopping experience. If anyone wished to buy something, they were asked to come back the following day when the sales registers officially opened for business. All this confidence by Edward Kleeman, the founder of H.O.C. and his staff paid off as thousands of shoppers stopped by the store on opening day.
So much is wrapped up in the history of this 113-year-old plate! Here in the Vintage Kitchen, we especially love the side glance of the model's expression. Her gaze perhaps inviting us all to look back on the century's worth of history that she represents.
Additional images: Photo of Archie and Mabel courtesy of the NY Tribune, 1916. 1925 Postcard of Salina Street featuring the Household Outfitting Co sign.
- Colors include cocoa, mint, celery, light grey, peach, pine green, gold and black.
- Stamped on back with the maker's mark and plate shape as well as the Household Outfitting Company's address
In lovely antique condition. There are no chips or cracks. There is some slight rubbing in some areas on the gold rim as expected with age. The portrait is crisp, clear, and bright. There is a small scratch in the transferware near the brim of the model's g=hat and her forehead. Please see photos.
Measures 9.25" inches in diameter and weighs 1 lb.