About the Historical Plates

 

In 1932 Louise Irwin conceived and executed the design of the Georgia Historical Plates as part of the upcoming 1933 Georgia Bicentennial Celebration. She suggested the project to the Transylvania Club as a celebration of the Bicentennial and the 25th anniversary of the Club, and as a possible moneymaker for the Club.

Wedgwood in London agreed to produce the plates, but required a $1,500 payment in advance. Three gentlemen, Mr. C.D. Shelnutt, Mr. C.F. Irwin, and Mr. B.J. Tarbutton, came forward and underwrote the entire sum.

The plates were to be executed by Wedgwood from the original Queensware formula which was first made in 1762 by Josiah Wedgwood for Queen Charlotte and named in her honor. The plates were originally produced in two sizes, dinner and salad, and were available in blue, pink and mulberry.

Miss Irwin designed a distinctive border that could only belong to Georgia. Each center subject was encircled with a design of cotton, peaches, Cherokee roses, and boughs of long-leaf pine. The seal of Georgia and the state motto: "non sibi sed aliis" appear at the lower center of the border.

The border is interspersed with five insets: Bethesda, the first orphanage in America; the residence of Crawford W. Long; Savannah, the first steamship to cross the ocean; the ruins of Fort Frederica; and Liberty Hall, home of Alexander H. Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy.

The center views are General James Oglethorpe; the Georgia Trustees receiving Oglethorpe and the Indians in London; Wesleyan College; John Wesley teaching the Indians; Richmond Academy; the old Capitol in Milledgeville; the present Capitol in Atlanta; Nancy Hart capturing the Tories; the burning of the Papers in the Yazoo Fraud; Georgia's Revolutionary War Heroes; Georgia's Civil War Heroes.

In September, 1935 the first shipment of Georgia Plates left the English dock. Since they were first issued, thousands of Georgia Plates have been sold, making the sale of the plates the largest single source of revenue for the Sandersville Public Library and the Transylvania Club.

On February 19, 1974, Governor Jimmy Carter signed the General Assembly's resolution number 573 making the plates the official historical plates for the State of Georgia.

Georgia Historical Plates are now being produced only in the dinner size and are currently being issued in pink and in blue.

From the History of the Transylvania Club and the Georgia Historical Plates, by Gena Tarbutton, in Cotton to Kaolin: A History of Washington County, Georgia (1784-1989)

The portrait of Mrs. Louise Irwin shown above was painted by artist Frenasee Daughtery.