The "Preparedness" Plate Variant



Plate
American (Midwest),
c. 1915
D: 10 5/16"
NBMOG Collection
Gift: Andrea & Alan Koppel
Acc. 2008.006
In the long-studied field of American historical glass, the discovery of a previously unknown pattern or pattern variant generates great excitement. This is particularly true when the new discovery is large and has an engaging design. Both criteria apply to the impressive "Preparedness" plate variant recently donated to NBMOG by members Andrea & Alan Koppel.

The Koppel donation, shown above, varies significantly from the well-known "Preparedness" plate illustrated by Bessie M. Lindsey in American Historical Glass (Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1967), p. 487. It features an embossed border design of spectacular spread-wing eagles alternating with soldier and sailor motifs.  The Lindsey example, by contrast, features a border design of soldiers and sailors without eagles (see illustration to left). Another major difference between the plates can be found in the center portion of the designs. The Koppel plate features a round transfer print showing a red, white and blue American shield above a blue banner reading "PREPAREDNESS." In the center of the Lindsey plate, by contrast, we find an embossed design of two crossed American flags and the word "PREPAREDNESS."

Lindsey provides an interesting historical context for the "Preparedness" motif. She writes that "for some time before 1917, many far-sighted persons believed that we should be better prepared for war. In some places, meetings and parades were held to advocate this idea. There was considerable agitation to further the cause. On July 22, 1916, in San Francisco, California, an incident occurred that drew national attention. During a parade there, a bomb exploded and caused the death of six persons. A labor leader, Thomas Mooney, was suspected. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for the crime. The sentence was never carried out, and Mooney eventually was pardoned and freed."

The factory origin of these World War I-era plates is unknown. Lindsey does not even hazard a guess, but judging from the soda-lime composition of the glass and from the fact that by this period  the American glass industry was concentrated in the Midwest, we can speculate that plates were pressed by a factory or factories in area of western Pennsylvania, Ohio or some surrounding state.

A clue to the origin of the plates might come from the closely related "Preparedness" toothpick holder illustrated by Lindsey on page 487 (shown lower left), an example of which was donated to NBMOG by advanced historical glass collector Mrs. Warren P. Tingley in 1999. The toothpick holder design features standing soldier and sailor figures pressed in full relief, as well as the embossed image of the crossed flags and the word "PREPAREDNESS." Embossed onto the base are the words "PATENT APPLIED FOR." It is hoped that further research will  lead to the discovery of the patent record, which could provide important information about the designer, manufacturer and date of production.

NBMOG would be grateful for any assistance in locating an example of the Lindsey plate design (the design without eagles, shown above left) to compliment the other "Preparedness" items in the collection.
Plate illustration from Bessie M. Lindsey's American Historical Glass, p. 487
Toothpick holder  illustration from Bessie M. Lindsey's American Historical Glass, p. 487
The New Bedford Museum of Glass