July 26, 2011

The Magical Mystery Plate

One of the coolest, but least likely thrills of living in an old house is stumbling upon something that may have come from, or is related to, your house.  In nearly ten years, it had happened to us only one time, until this month.  As of this week, however, we have added a piece that may or may not be associated with the Enos Kellogg House, but that needed to become part of our collection in any case.

Redware Plate, Norwalk, Connecticut.  Circa 1840.  Inscribed "Enos".

The picture above is of a circa 1840 redware plate manufactured here in Norwalk, Connecticut, fewer than five miles from our home.  With an inscription of "Enos", it is almost too good of a story to be true. 

Norwalk was a major manufacturing center for stoneware and redware in the 19th century, and we have put together a fairly nice collection of local pieces over the past ten years.  Norwalk redware plates are famous for their distinctive slip decoration, and somewhat generic aphorisms, biblical phrases and other words were commonly inscribed on pieces.  There are also more customized pieces, created specifically to commemorate particular events or individuals.  Operating on the assumption that such a unique customization is most likely to have originated close to the place of manufacture, and with census research showing only a handful of individuals named Enos in Norwalk and surrounding towns in the 1830s and 1840s, it is entirely possible that this plate references or memorializes the Enos Kellogg who built our house and died in 1833, or his nephew and namesake, whose father was raised by the elder Enos Kellogg in our house.  Of course, there is also more than a reasonable chance that it references some entirely unrelated Enos, but cut me a little slack here.  I prefer to think that this piece came from our house, somehow ended up at an auction in Maryland, and magically returned to its city and house of origin some 170 years after it emerge from the kiln.  Ten years of paint scraping, construction dust, sweat equity investment and restoration wounds should buy me a little karmic treat, right?

So, the Norwalk redware Enos plate has been claimed by the Enos Kellogg Homestead, and thanks to some spirited on-site bidding by my parents in Maryland, here it will reside. 

2 comments:

  1. Cool. Goose bumps and possibilities run rampant. I hope you find or collect a 12 pc place setting. And I'll keep watch here in the midwest.

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  2. Thanks, Nance! I'm sure there must be a few more of these plates buried but intact somewhere in my yard. That's not too greedy, is it? By the way, for an even better story, check out my post from last year about the photo album we found.

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