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The Iona plate

Object number: ROMGH.1998.96

Type: Plate

Technique: Painted, Transfer printed

Material: Ceramic

Width: 26.5cm

Production date: 1961 - 1980

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Use the same Celtic patterns in your art and craft work Yes
Use this design for commercial purposes without the permission of the Copyright holder No
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This ‘Iona’ plate was given to the museum by the Bain family in 1996. It’s one of only a few decorative pieces in their gift that wasn’t devised by their grandfather. The design is by Christopher Bolton for the Spode factory in Stoke-on-Trent. It was then engraved by Frank Boothby so that it could be printed onto plates. The extra colours were hand-painted onto each one.

First produced in 1961, Spode were reaching out to a new collectors’ market. Over 5,000 were sold in the first 3 years. During the 1970s another six designs were created, all based on early medieval illuminated manuscripts, including the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels. They formed a series called ‘Celtic Presentation Plates’.

The four fish at the centre of the plate form the cross of salvation. The fish have the letters P A C E written in them, Latin for ‘peace’. All are Christian references. The four figures around the fish are the four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are represented as an angel, lion, ox and eagle. The paired ‘hippocamps’ between the saints are guardians of the faith. The interlaced knotwork designs around the rim of the plate feature beasts and birds. One continuous line joins them all, thought to be symbolic of eternity.

Author: Diana Cobden

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