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Tiger Maple Treen Plate

According to Gould in Early American Woodenware, "the early name for the wooden plate was trencher and the man who ate from one was called a trencherman.  Two people eating from the same trencher were called trencher mates and if a boy and girl ate together from the same trencher they were considered engaged."

The plates made in this country were round and made of maple, ash, chestnut and cherry. While the custom of using the reverse side for a second course originated in England and must have clung to the generations here, the marks that we often find on the reverse give credance to the story that there was a "dinner side and a pie side".  These round treen plates were turned on a lathe and the man who did this work was called a dish turner.  Now, several hundred years later they are no longer completely round due to shrinkage against the grain.  

The use of treen plates gave way to pewter and ceramic plates by 1800,  and now they are eagerly sought after by collectors of early Americana.  The form on this plate would date it to the 18th century, resembling the shape of the pewter plates of that time.  The strong tigering in the maple makes this plate a very special piece.  It is 8-3/4" to 8-7/8" in diameter depending on where one measures it. There is a tight line off the rim that is about 2" long that is mentioned for the sake of accuracy and a slight warp to the plate caused by shrinkage due to age and use.  The patina is fabulous as is the strong figure.


Here we have two more Treen Plates . . . both are maple.  The one on the left is the lightest in color and is 7-1/4" to 7-1/3" in diameter, slightly out of round due to shrinkage. It does have a couple nicks that need to be mentioned, but hopefully forgiven.

The Treen plate on the right is 7" to 7-1/4" in diameter with a warm nut brown color and a hint of tiger striping. It's as perfect as they come with only a slight, and I do mean slight, bit of warpage due to shrinkage. We expect that in wood that is 300 years old. I would be concerned if it weren't there.

Questions?  Ask the Ferret!



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