Dish, China, c.1850 or later, Height 28 mm (1.38 inch), diameter of rim 141 mm (9.45 inch), diameter of footring 73 mm (4.84 inch), weight 168 grams (5.93 ounce (oz.)), Dish on a footring with a straight rim and a glazed base. Decorated in underglaze blue with a large displayed eagle clasping in his right talons two arrows and in his left two leafy vines, above his head a indecipherable motto inscribed upside down. The reverse washed in a pale celadon is undecorated. (New York 2000, p.149) Marked on the base with a square shop mark.
This Chinese export porcelain saucer was made for the American-market, there seems good reason to suggest that this saucer may have commemorated the joining of the State of New Mexico with the Union in 1850. New Mexico was subsequently enlarged by the Gadsden Purchase in 1854 and reduced in 1863 by the detachment of what is now the State of Arizona, while in 1876 a further part was added to Colorado. It is not clear at exactly what date the present seal was adopted - certainly it was in use before the end of the nineteenth century - but it is more likely that this unusual piece could have derived from a flag of the State, or a piece of commemorative needlework. Decorated in imitation of a late seventeenth-century style. The ware is almost certainly provincial. The central eagle is very rare, but is similar to the Napoleonic eagle on coins of the period; the Mexican eagle (with leafy branch); and the Seal of New Mexico, which has two eagles (a small one below the other's wing) and the principal eagle in exactly this stance, holding in its claws three arrows. The eagle appears to be executed in the style of needlework stitches, particularly on its neck, tail and wings, and also on the flowers near the rim. The border, too, could have been copied from the binding stitching on the edge of a flag or badge. (Howard & Ayers 1978, vol. 2, p.512) On the rim an old original Japanese gold lacquer restoration. For a similarly decorated (larger) dishes please see:
•China for the West. Chinese Porcelain and other Decorative Arts for Export illustrated from the Mottahedeh Collection, (D.S. Howard & J. Ayers, Philip Wilson Publishers for Sotheby Parke Bernet Publications, London 1978), vol. 2, p.512, cat. 521.
•Chinese export porcelain in North America, (J. McClure Mudge, New York 2000), p.217, cat. 367.
•Important Chinese Export Porcelain and Chinese works of art from the Collection of the late Mildred R. and Rafi Y. Mottahedeh, auction sale catalogue 7520, Sotheby's New York, October 19, 2000, p.149, lot number 337. Condition: A firing flaw and a chip with a connected hairline restored with an old original Japanese gold lacquer restoration. Some fine crazing to the glaze. References: Howard & Ayers 1978, vol. 2, p.512, Mudge 2000, cat. 367, New York 2000, lot 337