Manufacturer: Syracuse China
Pattern: Nature Studies/Nature Study/N.S. Nos. 1-40
Date of service plates: 1927 – 1950s
The Syracuse China Nature Studies service plates (also referred to as the Nature Study series and simply N.S. and NS in the Syracuse catalog) feature hand-painted poppies, water lilies, other flowers and birds as designed by Harry G. Aitken (1867 – 1952), who came to work at Syracuse in 1904 as head of the decorating department and retired in 1946. Aitken streamlined the pattern color system, as well as the process of printing engravings. In addition to instituting team methods of greater efficiency, Aitken added to the company's reputation for fine decoration through his talents as a water colorist and a painter in ceramic colors. (Source: Syracuse China by Cleota Reed and Stan Skoczen)
Nature Studies commonly is identified as a series of forty designs depicting flowers and birds, as shown in this 1932 Syracuse China catalog excerpt of the Service Plates (compliments of RWCN Member Dan CTCC registrar); although, notes in the Syracuse China Archives indicate:
"The Nature Studies series has always been considered a series of 40 designs, however, Nature Studies #40 is a series of six different designs. The total number of Nature Studies plates is actually 45."
Nature Study Poppies No. 1 through No. 12
In 1929, Aitken painted poppies that were growing in his garden and used them as the inspiration for the Nature Study Poppies No. 1 through No. 12. He described this process in the company newsletter, the Syracuse China News: "The decoration of the poppy starts with a freehand engraving on steel, from which we print. It is then ground laid (with solid colors), painted by hand and lined, all of these processes being under the glaze, after which we snap up a brilliant highlight in (overglaze) enamel color, which is the finishing touch." Aitken's designs constitute some of the most accomplished hand-painted pictorial decorations of the era to come from an American pottery.
Nature Study No. 13 through No. 39 (other flowers and birds)
Nature Study services plates No. 13 through No. 39 depict other flowers and birds:
Nature Study No. 13; No. 14; No. 15; No. 17 (Chrysanthemum)
Nature Study No. 16 (Tulip)
Nature Study No. 18 (Orchid)
Nature Study No. 19 (Daffodil)
Nature Study No. 20; No. 21; No. 22 (Hollyhock)
Nature Study No. 23 (Moccasin Flower)
Nature Study No. 24 (Iris)
Nature Study No. 25 (Rhododendron)
Nature Study No. 26 (Dandelion)
Nature Study No. 27 (Daises)
Nature Study No. 27 (Daises variation, Field Daisies with Blackeyed Susans)
Nature Study No. 28 (Cedar Wax Wing)
Nature Study No. 29 (Blue Bird)
Nature Study No. 30 (Robin)
Nature Study No. 31 (Red Wing Blackbird)
Nature Study No. 32 (Gold Finch)
Nature Study No. 33 (Baltimore Oriole)
Nature Study No. 34 through No. 39 (Water Lilies)
Nature Study No. 40, A, B, C, D, E, F (Garden Flowers)
As noted in the Syracuse China Archives, Nature Study No. 40, or NS 40, actually consists of six designs of Garden Flowers as shown above in the 1932 Syracuse Catalog excerpt.
For related info:
Paso del Norte Hotel 2 – Nature Study plates by Syracuse China
ID Contributions by RWCN Member Dan CTCC registrar; dbstoneware; Larry Paul; and Harry Aycock. Photos of Nature Study No. 30 (Robin) and Nature Study No. 33 (Baltimore Oriole) contributed by Charles H. Sovine.