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Ceramic plate bearing the arms of the British East India Company

Date: c 1817
Overall: 250 x 250 x 30 mm, 0.571 kg
Medium: Soft paste porcelain
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Plate
Object No: 00031425
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    This armorial plate bears the arms of Britain's Honourable East India Company, established in 1600 under a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth I to assist in the promotion of trade with India, the East Indies and the Far East.

    The arms consist of two rampant lions supporting a white shield with a St George's cross and holding two flagpoles with flying flags; above the shield a rampant lion holds a crown; the company motto AUSPICIO REGIS ET SENATUS ANGLIA (By Command of the King and Parliament of England) appears below. The rim is rose-coloured with gold decoration and a gold border. Three sprays of three pink roses (signifiying England) adorn the rim. Embossed on the reverse are the letters FBB surmounted by a crown, being the marks of Flight, Barr and Barr, 1813 - 1840. At this time the company was owned by Joseph Flight, George Barr and Martin Barr junior.

    SignificanceThis porcelain plate bearing the arms of the East India Company is an evocative symbol of a company that greatly affected the economic development of Australia. The influence of the Company was pervasive and restricted economy in the Australian colonies until the EIC's monopoly was lifted.
    HistoryThe manufacturing of porcelain in England was first established at Worcester in 1751 by the Worcester Tonquin Manufactury. In 1783 the company was bought by Thomas Flight, jeweller to the royal family. In 1788 following a visit to the works by George III and Queen Charlotte the company was granted the title of manufacturers to their Majesties. A crown was added to their mark and the firm's name changed to Royal Porcelain Works. On the death of John Flight (son of Thomas Flight) in 1791 - the surviving brother Joseph took Martin Barr into partnership and the firm's mark altered to Flight & Barr. In 1813 following further changes in the partnership the style of the firm became Flight, Barr & Barr.

    The quality of porcelain of the Flight, Barr & Barr period (1813-1840) was of the highest standard in potting, design and decoration. The management of the company paid the painters and potters 'by time' instead of by the more common method of 'by the piece'. This method of manufacturing made porcelain from the Royal Porcelain Works more expensive than their competitors but they were honoured with orders from both English and overseas royalty, Lord Nelson and the Hon East India Company for large table services, vases, urns and flatware.

    Following its establishment in 1600, by 1609 the Honourable East India Company had established trading 'factories' in India and had built its own shipyard at Deptford on the River Thames to construct the biggest and best constructed merchant vessels of the period - the famous East Indiamen. Under Charles I the EIC was granted an enlarged Charter giving them a virtual monopoly on all British trade east of the Cape of Good Hope, including trade with India, China and the new British colonies in eastern Australia.

    For the first three decades (1788-1820) of the European occupation of Australia the East India Company's monopoly on all British trade between the Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Magellan effectively stifled the economic and political development of the Australian colonies by restricting trade and controlling ship building. The EIC's exclusive trading monopoly also restricted the development of the colonies' maritime resources such as whaling and sealing by prohibiting the construction of any vessels in the Australian colonies - although this restriction was eased in the early 1800s the vessel could only operate within the territorial limits of the colonies.

    By 1813 the realisation that the EIC's monopoly on shipping was severely restricting the development of trade in the east saw the removal of the East India Company's exclusive trade monopoly to India. But it was not until 1833 that trade to China and all other eastern trade routes was opened up and not until 1858 that the East India Company was officially dissolved.
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