This Website has been created as an informational source for collectors and those interested in the color lithograph-on-tin decorative advertising plates commonly called Vienna Art Plates that were produced between approximately 1904 and 1915. They were primarily made by four manufacturers or under four maker names:
H. D. Beach Co. – Vienna Art Plates
The Meek Co. – Dresden Art Plates
Charles W. Shonk Co. – Royal Saxony Art Plates
Kaufmann & Strauss
Also included in this website are the earlier (circa 1901 to 1904) products of the Meek & Beach Co. and H. D. Beach Co. While Meek & Beach and H. D. Beach did not produce a true “plate” having a flat base or bottom in these earlier years, their products were similar in size and appearance but having a shallow curved bottom or shallow “bowl” shaped center. They are included since they are frequently referred to as being an art plate or a Vienna Art Plate and since they had a direct involvement in the evolution and history of these plates. Included also is Bachrach & Co., a distributor for The Meek Co. (See: History of Manufacturers), since their name has been found on plates that are believed to have been designed, ordered, and/or distributed by Bachrach but actually were produced by The Meek Co. with Meek or Bachrach then adding the Bachrach name to the back of the plate.
The Beach Co, Meek Co. and Shonk Co. were the largest makers having produced nearly all of the plates that are found today. Besides being by far the largest single maker of these plates, the H. D. Beach Co. – Vienna Art plates, were marked with heavy and conspicuous printed logos or marks that have remained clear and intact over the years. The Meek – Dresden and Shonk – Royal Saxony logos were very lightly printed on the underside of the lower border and many of these logos are now faded, deteriorated and/or partially or completely gone. Over time, since the Beach-Vienna plates were the plates most frequently seen and have a resilient and conspicuous markings or logos, “Vienna Art Plates” has become the generic or common name used to refer to all of these plates.
While these plates are similar in shape and are all about 10” in diameter, there are identifiable differences in each maker’s plates that can help identify the specific maker when a logo or mark is obscured or missing. When examined closely, there are different diameters and border shapes that can be used in order to help identify a specific maker. (See: Plate Identification for additional information)
All of these plates were intended to have some form of an advertising purpose. Some of the plates contain advertising printed on the front while many are found with advertising printed only on the back, including some with paper advertising labels that were applied to the back. Very few paper labels are found today due to their age, deterioration or prior removal.
Many of the portraits or subjects on these tin plates are close likenesses or virtual copies of the quality hand painted portraits found on porcelain plates produced by Royal Vienna and other manufacturers of quality plate artwork. These tin plates represent a form of inexpensive give-away premiums or advertising that the recipient would hopefully retain and display. They fall into the general categories of – Portraits (many are of women) – Scenes – Souvenirs – Advertising.
For purposes of definition on this website, a portrait plate is one that contains a seemingly posed full or partial body image of a person(s) or of thing(s). An advertising plate is one with factory advertising printed on the front. Separate sections of this website addresses advertising that is found applied solely on the backs of any plates. Some plates may fall into more than one category and therefore may appear under more than one tab of this website.
Hazelcorn’s Price Guide to Tin Vienna Art Plates is the only book that has been published about these plates. That book, which focuses on the personal collection of Howard and Jane Hazelcorn, was first released in 1987 and reprinted in 1996. While the book is long out of print, it remains the primary reference source for collectors. References may be made herein to “Hazelcorn” (or “Haz”) plate codes and/or pages for reference or to assist collectors. This website is not intended to incorporate or replace the Hazelcorn book, but rather, is primarily intended to expand on information contained in the book, to add new information that may have been obtained and to provide color photographs of these plates using current technology.
Each of the manufacturers produced a wide array of intricate color lithograph-on-tin signs, trays and other items. The manufacture of plates was only a small portion of their business. No catalogs or factory records are known to exist today in order to help identify the portrait or border designs that were originally produced or to identify the various advertising that appeared on these plates. Further, some facts or information may be unconfirmed but are presented based upon deduction, likelihood or a reasonable belief based upon other facts or information. Accordingly, the information contained on this website likely will never be totally accurate or complete and will simply contain the best information available at this time.
Further, the photographs displayed on this website have come from an array of sources. They include photos of items in personal collections, on Internet websites, in auction listing and records, including from eBay. Accordingly, the quality and resolution of some photos may be poor or only fair at best. As new or better quality photographs are obtained, the site will be updated to contain the best photographs that are currently available.
The current values of these plates are based upon many factors such as economic conditions, supply, demand, scarcity and, most importantly, their individual condition. These are all economic or subjective factors which can vary widely. Accordingly, no opinions as to scarcity, values or prices are included.
This website is a “work in progress” which will change and hopefully expand and improve over time as new information and photographs are obtained and added. The contribution of information, documents and high quality photographs, are welcomed.
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