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A tin ‘cushion top’ plate warmer with cast iron legs and brass ring handles is illustrated in Yvonne Jones’ ‘Japanned Papier Mâché and Tinware c.1740-1940’ (Antique Collectors' Club Ltd, 4 May 2012), fig.298, p.265. This plate warmer is part of the Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage Collection, housed at Bantock House Museum.
Yvonne Jones also illustrates Henry Fearncombe’s advert from 1833, which appeared in Bridgen’s ‘Directory of Wolverhampton’. The advert is a ‘List of Strong Block Tin & Japanned Wares Manufactured by Henry Fearncombe, Dudley Road, Wolverhampton’. This list references ‘Plate warmers’ under the section on ‘Japanned Ware’.
A page from the 1874 trade catalogue of J.H.Hopkin & Sons is shown in ‘Japanned Papier Mâché and Tinware c.1740-1940’, presenting drawings of their plate and vegetable warmers, with the prices alongside (p.175). Our plate warmer is most similar in style to design ‘No.1592’, which is described as: ‘Arch top’.
For a comparable plate warmer see also: W.D. John, ‘Pontypool and Usk Japanned Wares – With the Early History of the Iron and Tinplate Industries at Pontypool’, ('The Ceramic Book Company', Newport, 1953), plate 1.
Henry Fearncombe (1791-1856): Henry Fearncombe was born in 1791 in Taunton, Somerset. The earliest reference to his work in Wolverhampton is in a trade directory of 1828-29, in which he is recorded as being a ‘japanner and tin plate worker’ at ‘105 Walsall Street’. An 1833 trade directory records him as now residing at Dudley Road, and then the 1850 trade directory refers to these premises as ‘Pontypool Works… producing japanned and fancy goods’ but the 1861 trade directory calls them ‘Phoenix Works’ and refers to Fearncombe as a ‘manufacturer of japanned iron, strong black tin wares and baths of every description.’ Despite this change in name, they were probably the same works. Initially, ‘Pontypool’ was the term used to describe japanned ware generally, but this was probably changed due to it be insufficiently distinctive. Thereafter, the trade directories limit their description to ‘japanner’. The company’s main business was japanning and tin plate work, japanning exclusively on tin plate and not on papier mâché. Henry Fearncombe was a successful japanner who was committed to the art of japanning as well as to the trade. He exhibited at a number of industrial art exhibitions, notably the Great Exhibition of 1851. Henry died on 18th April 1856. The ‘Wolverhampton Chronicle’ recorded it: ‘Deaths: April 18, very suddenly, at Admaston Spa, near Wellington, whither he had repaired for a short time for the benefit of his health, Mr. Henry Fearncombe, japanner, of this town. The deceased had been in business in the town about thirty years, and was latterly a member of the Town Council.’
|Height||75.00 cm||(29.53 inches)|
|Width||51.00 cm||(20.08 inches)|
|Depth||32.00 cm||(12.60 inches)|
Thomas Coulborn & Sons
64 Birmingham Road
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