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William Shakespeare

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Faversham (made)

  • Date:

    early 20th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Arthur Osborne (makers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Moulded and painted composition

  • Credit Line:

    Richard Vincent Hughes Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This plaque of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was produced some time in the first half of the 20th century by Osborne Ivorex, a company founded in 1899 by Arthur Osborne in Faversham, Kent, which traded until 1965.

Arthur Osborne (1855-1943) worked in Canada and the United States in the 1870s, and while working for a tile company in Boston, became a specialist in designing low-relief tiles. Back in England in 1898 he began making three-dimensional relief images in clay, and in 1899 exhibited three reliefs at the Royal Academy. This soon developed into the production of the plaques that gave Faversham a thriving industry. Osborne created detailed master plaques in clay, often using picture postcards, and from these made gelatine moulds into which was poured plaster of Paris, sometimes mixed with ochre-coloured pigment. Once dry, the plaques were unmoulded, hand-painted with watercolour and then dipped in paraffin wax to give them their characteristic ivory-like finish. Brass eyelet rings and cords for hanging were fitted to the backs; some were mounted in black lacquered frames with a dark velvet slip and all were sold in custom-made cardboard boxes. The firm produced 495 different pieces including plaques, free-standing shelf pieces, calendar holders and figurines, and Ivorex wares were sold at the British Empire Exhibition in 1924.

Physical description

Plastic composition plaque of William Shakespeare, seated, looking to left in profile with a quill in his right hand and his left arm resting on a chair back, holding papers. Decorated in black, grey and sepia. The plaque has a border and an arched top pierce at the corners with strings for hanging. 'Shakespeare' is written along the bottom.

Place of Origin

Faversham (made)


early 20th century (made)


Arthur Osborne (makers)

Materials and Techniques

Moulded and painted composition

Marks and inscriptions

Very faintly stamped in black, verso

On lower border on the front of the plaque

'B. Osborne & Co. Made in England. Copyright 1921'


Height: 13.0 cm, Width: 9.0 cm, Depth: 0.7 cm

Descriptive line

Plaque depicting William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Osborne Ivorex, first half of the 20th century


Composition (material); Paint; Paraffin


Moulding; Painting


Entertainment & Leisure; Plaques & Plaquettes; Theatre


Theatre and Performance Collection

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