A Little Italian Treasure Trove

We figure we have a month – maybe a little more – before the bulldozers move in to demolish the existing beyond-renovation ruins on our Abruzzo property and work starts in earnest on building our new home and our special holiday villas for two. We’ve salvaged all the old roof and ceiling tiles we could reach – 1013 of them ! – without risking serious injury, or worse, by clambering over desperately unstable walls and beams to get more, so having done what we can for the moment outside, it seemed a good time to see what lay inside our two long-abandoned houses.

A Rummage in the Ruins
Hardly the entrance to Aladdin's cave... You live in hope, fuelled by all those reports you’ve ever read about a van Gogh in the attic; a box of antique silver in the drawer of an old table; an old table that’s actually a Chippendale. The reality’s always different. Not the most promising start...The good stuff – if there ever was any – is long-gone and all that’s left is filth-encrusted junk.

This door leads to one of the few upstairs rooms that not only still has a floor, but also a floor that you can walk on – carefully – without plunging through it.

The initial glance round wasn’t that promising. Lots of firewood (but strangely, no fireplace…) – but what’s that pile of stuff stacked up against the wall ?

Meissen ? Coalport ? Not quite...Just a pile of old broken plates. But on closer inspection, under the grime, here was something quite interesting. White china with gold decoration. 

But in terrible condition....afterBefore... Our two ruins are soon to become your holiday villas for two – but right now they’ve been abandoned for at least thirty years, (maybe longer – nobody’s quite sure), and the china was encased in a thick layer of dirt.

But it’s astonishing what you can uncover with only warm water, a little washing-up liquid – and some limescale remover !

The Treasure Revealed
And as more mud got washed away, we found three different patterns, spread over 23 assorted plates and bowls. Which do you prefer - slightly ornate ?Or plain ?There’s the odd little chip around a rim here and there and a little of the original gold decoration’s been worn away in places, but essentially, the condition’s perfect. The mystery tableware

And being of a curious disposition, the next step of course was to flip the plates over and see if we could find a maker’s name. And here the plot thickens…

Where Did They Come From ?

The china is clearly the remnants of three different sets, but to our untrained eyes, they looked pretty similar. The first mark we discovered on the left-hand plate above carries:

  • a dragon trademark
  • a pattern number – V-59
  • and the stamp ‘Extra Strong England Type’. (England type ?). And the maker is...?How about this one ?

The other two patterns are a little easier.

  • They both carry the name ‘SC Richard’
  • a couple of pattern numbers – 52 and 210
  • a lion and shield trademark
  • the stamp ‘Made in Italy’
  • and the name ‘Lambrate’

My first thought was that ‘Lambrate’ was perhaps the name of the range – but a little research showed that ‘Lambrate’ is also a suburb of Milan. And a little more research revealed that yes – this is (or was) the home of the ‘Lambrate’ porcelain factory. So we know who made our plates and bowls; and we know where – but frustratingly, we don’t know when.  

Intriguingly though, there are a handful of ‘SC Richard’ and ‘Lambrate’ tableware pieces for sale on both Italian and US eBay – but for no huge sums; with no indication of whether either company is still in production; and no clue – except for a very general and very hesitant ‘early/mid-20th century’ – when our Italian treasure discovery might have been produced. As for ‘Extra Strong England Type’ – sorry, haven’t a clue. 

If you’ve any theories – we’d love to hear them !


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6 Comments

  1. jack riley says:

    iv’e recently come across 8 bowls and 2 plates with the exact same logo on the plates you discovered but one doesn’t have s-c only richard on the stamp along with the rest, most of the numbers are 41 but 3 are 210,211,312 , iv’e tried researching the name and your site was the only one with any information. what should i do with them?

  2. admin says:

    I’d hate to set myself up as a ceramics expert, but I don’t think the value of what you’ve found will be worth much more than around U$D10 per item. You could try moving them out on eBay…or do what we do and simply use and enjoy them every day. Just don’t put them in the dishwasher – they weren’t made for that !

  3. Tim Naylor says:

    Hi

    SC Richards was a Milanese ceramics company that merged with Ginori in 1896. The merger created the company Ginori Richards, which I believe was Italy’s most productive and prestigious ceramics company until their unfortunate close in 2012.

    The fact that your plates has the SC Richards back-stamp, without any reference at all to Ginori, dates your pieces to pre-1896 when this backstamp was discontinued. The back-stamp itself is of a Griffin with the Milanese flag and the shield that has a Biscione (man eating serpent) on it.

    I believe the incised numbers indicate that the plates were produced as a part of a larger single consignment. The numbers are usually produced incrementally, with the number of the last digit changing for the number produced and the first digit / letters indicating the pattern/shape of the piece.

    They are lovely plates, and quite rare. It’s a great find, and I hope you will keep them with the property as an example of its history.

    • villasfor2 says:

      Thanks Tim…what amazing news. As I mentioned in the blog, our property was abandoned in the mid-1970s, so these plates had been sitting there for some 40 years until we found them. But I never even imagined they had such interesting provenance. They’re in everyday use and much-admired by all who see them. We’ll have to treat them with extra respect now ! Thanks so much again for this astonishing insight into our find.

  4. Simone says:

    Hi my mum has a set of 6 cups & saucers the cups have s.c.richard 1114 & the saucers have the s.c richard with v1-52 & they are also engraved with 552 look ceramic the cups have a pic of some sort of a queen & are a gold cream coulor, could yon please give me some info about this set thank you & mum has asked about how much are they worth if anything thanks again

    • villasfor2 says:

      Hi Simone…I wish I could help you, but I’m absolutely no expert on these items. The little knowledge I do have was gained online when I was researching the plates we found on our property here in Italy, and I’d hate to give you wrong/misleading info about your own find in Australia. All I will say is that if your Mum has a set of six matching cups and saucers in good condition, they’ll be worth more than six different cups/saucers. But as to the actual amount of money involved – I wouldn’t like to guess. Best suggestion I can make is explore online – or see if there are any auction houses/antique dealers near you who’d give you a free valuation.

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