Plates aren't just plates... so it seems!

I can see why some people collect plates. Walking around markets and stores one can see porcelain plates, antique plates, commemorative plates and collector plates. The range is never ending. Personally I see a plate as only for putting food on and I consider art is better seen on a canvas.

However, having said this, some weeks ago, I bought a plate at a market for the princely sum of $5. This plate I had seen in previous weeks on this particular market stall and nobody had bothered to buy it. One of the reasons being that the description on the reverse of the plate was in a foreign language. Another reason was that the design on the plate was a black and white sketch of an old building which was not very appealing.

The lady who sold me the plate thought the language was German. As it turned out it was Swedish. I can’t understand Swedish. However, I eventually gleaned the following:

The plate was designed by Sven Angborn. It was produced in 1982 and the porcelain factory that produced the plate was called Gustavsberg. The building was the Public Theatre Building built in 1873 in a town in Sweden called Borås. The Plate was numbered 5.


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I was intrigued to know why would anyone put a sketch of an old building on a plate. So to the internet I went. Some quite few hours later I pieced together a bit of a history about the plate and its designer.

Sven Angborn born in 1925 and a resident of Borås is a cartoonist, book illustrator writer and sculptor (as far as I can tell he is still alive). Commencing in 1978 he sketched a series of designs on plates of some of the building and sights in his home town. In 1982 he designed the sketch of the building on the plate I purchased.

There were not many old buildings left in Borås in 1978. Primarily because the mainly wooden buildings in the town had been destroyed by fires in 1681, 1727, 1822 and 1827. Over the years, the old wooden theatre building pictured on the plate had started to deteriorate and the local authorities decided it should be demolished. There were demonstrations by the local inhabitants against the demolition who wanted the building restored and preserved. And why not; this was part of their history and one of the few remaining wooden structures.

The story then goes that demonstrators were removed from the site on the trumped up story that there was a bomb scare. On December 4th 1983, twelve months after the plate depicting the building was made, while the demonstrators were away as a result of the bomb scare, the demolishers moved in and demolished the theatre. Even now this demolition has not been forgotten by the residents of the town. It was mentioned only this year on a Facebook sight about the preservation of old buildings in Borås.


There is another little twist to this plate story. In 1994, the Gustavsberg Factory finally closed its doors having been in existence since 1826. On closure it donated 36,000 pieces of porcelain pottery to the Swedish National Museum. Well it might have been 35,999. Why? If you go to the museum website and search the name Sven Anghorn it shows a series of 6 plates with the sketches of Borås. Except number 5 is missing. It seems I have that plate. Should I send it to the National Museum of Sweden? Maybe plates are important after all as historical record?

Tell us, do you collect plates? Or have a special one?