Serving platter

Production date
Pre 1790
See full details

Object Detail

Serving platter - intact creamware serving platter with letter "C" scratched into underside. .
CH classification DOMESTIC EQUIPMENT Food & Drink Consumption Crockery platter
Production place
L358mm x W291mm
Media/Materials description
History and use
In 1790 HMS Pandora sailed from England in pursuit of the HMS Bounty and its mutineers. The Pandora was wrecked in 1791 on its return voyage while attempting to negotiate the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland. The wreck was discovered in 1977, and between 1983 and 1999 excavations conducted by Queensland Museum archaeologists and colleagues recovered many artefacts.

Royal pattern creamware was in common use in middle class dining rooms of 18th century Britain, and this serving platter, recovered from the shipwreck, is part of a creamware crockery dinner service used by the officers of the Pandora. Marks made on the inner surface indicate the platter had been used. There is also the letter “C” scratched into the underside of its base. Other items have the initial “M” or “W” scratched into their underside - depending on which way the plate is orientated.

Two possible explanations have been suggested for these initials. The letter “C” was first thought to indicate ownership by Second Lieutenant Robert Corner, due to the location it was found. However, this theory is dependent on whether the initial found on other plates is an “M” or “W”. If it is an “M”, it could indicate that it was the property of midshipman Richard Matson. If it is a “W”, then it is not a mark of ownership, as no officers or midshipmen on the Pandora had surnames starting with this letter.

The second, and more likely explanation is that crockery marked with a “C” was intended for use in the Captain’s Cabin, while that marked with a “W” was meant for the wardroom – where the commissioned officers dined or relaxed. This explanation would therefore indicate that this particular dish, marked with a “C”, was used in the Captain’s Cabin
Registration number