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Royal Navy mess plate

Date: 1837-1901
Overall (No 13 Plate): 25 x 242 mm
Medium: Ceramic
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from the Estate of Michael O'Flynn
Object Name: Plate
Object No: 00051768

User Terms

    Transfer printed earthenware Royal Navy mess plate in the 'young-head' pattern featuring a central Royal Crown and inscribed MESS No. 13. The border has an inner edge of chain and an outer edge of rope; within this are three identical profile heads of the young Queen Victoria surrounded by oak and laurel branches, and three identical cartouches of two sailors (jack tars) with naval trophies. They are shown victoriously waving flags whilst a ship of the line in the background fires a salvo, perhaps at a derigging ship nearby; one sailor stands barefooted on a cannon, the other on a capstan; both are wearing cutlasses. No marks on reverse of plate.

    SignificanceThis plate relates to the everyday tableware required by sailors of the British Royal Navy until 1907; it shows the organisation needed on board, the standardisation of tableware and the customs of the Royal Navy, which naturally influenced the structure and customs of colonial navies and eventually the RAN.
    HistoryBefore 1907 naval messes on board ships had to buy their own crockery. These plates were produced specifically for this market by a number of British potteries.

    The crew of a ship was divided up into 'messes' whereby groups of sailors lived and ate together on board. They were assigned or joined specific messes based on their function (trade), watch schedules and the like. Each mess had its own number to avoid confusion.

    The blue and white transfer pattern was a standard pattern for Royal Navy messes with only the monarch's head and the number changing. The pattern is referred to as the 'young-head' pattern because they feature the heads of either Queen Victoria (1837-1901) or King Edward VII (1901-1910) during the early years of their reign.

    Additional Titles

    Collection title: Three items from the Michael O'Flynn bequest

    Assigned title: British Royal Navy Victorian mess plate no. 13

    Web title: Royal Navy mess plate

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