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Dish, October 1797
Attributed to John Leidy I, American
Lead-glazed earthenware with slip decoration
2 1/8 x 13 7/8 inches (5.4 x 35.2 cm)
Gift of A. C. Harrison, 1895
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About Pennsylvania German Plates

The Pennsylvania Germans were German-speaking immigrants from Europe who settled in southeastern Pennsylvania in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They are sometimes also called the Pennsylvania Dutch. Many Pennsylvania Germans were farmers and settled in the countryside, where rich red clay could easily be found. Some farmers became potters, creating clay plates like these that were displayed on mantelpieces or tables. Birds, hearts, tulips, and words were especially popular designs on these “show plates.” Often the designs are symmetrical, identical on the right and left sides or on the top and bottom.

Make Your Own Show Plate

  • Stencils of flowers and animals (make your own or purchase at a craft store)
  • Tape
  • Non-waxy paper plates
  • Oil pastels
Dish, 1826
Made by Samuel Troxel, American (Upper Hanover Township, Montgomery County, PA)
Lead-glazed earthenware, slip (for sgraffito decoration), copper oxide
2 x 11 1/4 inches (5.1 x 28.6 cm)
Purchased with Museum funds, 1893
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  • Tape a stencil to the plate to hold it still.
  • Color inside the stencil with an oil pastel.
  • Add more stencil designs—make your design symmetrical if you’d like.
  • Color in the rest of your plate with other oil pastels.
  • Add words around the edge of the plate to make a border—it could be a poem, your name, or a story about your design.

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