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Fruit dish
  • Fruit dish
    Schinkel, Karl Friedrich, born 1781 - died 1841
  • Enlarge image

Fruit dish

  • Place of origin:

    Shropshire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1830-1840 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Schinkel, Karl Friedrich, born 1781 - died 1841 (designer)
    Coalbrookdale Company (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast iron, with gold coloured paint

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 122c, case 1

Object Type
This fruit dish was cast by the Coalbrookdale Company about 1846 and is described in an article on 'Coalbrookdale Wares' in the Art Union magazine issued on 1 August 1846. Other small-scale domestic items produced by the firm included umbrella stands and caskets.

Design & Designing
The design for this fruit dish was first produced about 1820 by the distinguished German architect and designer Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841) for the Prussian Royal Foundry. It uses the same frieze of hippocamps and mermen that appears on the iron balustrade for the Schlossbrücke in Berlin (1819-24).

Design & Manufacture
Schinkel designed several types of fruit dishes and garden furniture reusing elements of his designs in a variety of wares. Coalbrookdale seems to have pirated several of his designs and to have copied other works made by the Berlin foundry, which reputedly produced the finest cast iron in Europe. The slightly blurred quality of the casting suggests that a mould was taken from an original die, and a casting then produced. This design was still being manufactured in 1877, and featured in the Coalbrookdale catalogue that year. The fruit dish has been covered with a gold wash to make it more attractive.

Physical description

The dish is of openwork design and has a shallow, evenly sloping profile. The pattern consists of a solid central disc surrounded by a band of openwork wheat sheaf ornament. Outside this is a ring of four panels, two with a pair of semi-recumbent hippo camps separated by a trident and two with a pair of mermen holding up a scallop shell. Between these panels and the rim of the dish is a field of scrolling acanthus foliage.

Place of Origin

Shropshire (made)


ca. 1830-1840 (made)


Schinkel, Karl Friedrich, born 1781 - died 1841 (designer)
Coalbrookdale Company (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Cast iron, with gold coloured paint


Height: 4.5 cm, Diameter: 29 cm

Object history note

Although the dish was cast by the Coalbrookdale Company, one of the most founding companies established in Shopshire in the 18th century, it is not an English pattern. The original was designed in the 1820s for the Berlin Royal Iron Foundry by the German architect and designer, Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841). Schinkel designed a number of domestic items for the three Royal iron foundries including several openwork dishes, but Coalbrookdale appear only to have reproduced two of them, this example and a slightly smaller pattern with nerieds and sea monsters (see Berlin exhibition catalogue 406). The slightly blurred quality of the casting suggests that the mould was taken from an existing plate. The dishes are described in an article in the Art Union in 1846 (with no mention of their Berlin origins) and can be found in the Coalbrookdale catalogue of 1877, but do not appear thereafter, indicating that the Victorian taste for such objects was relatively short lived.

Descriptive line

Cast iron fruit dish , England, Coalbrookdale and Co., ca.1846

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

The Art Union, 1 August 1846, p.224
E. Schmidt, Der Preussischer Eisenkunstguss, Berlin, 1981, p.173
Eisen stadt Gold, Berlin, Schloss Charlottenburg, November 1982 - January 1983, (exhibition catalogue), cat.no. 405
G. Andrews, `Prussina Artistic Cast Iron', Antiques, February 1983

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The Coalbrookdale factory made many household goods and fittings during the 19th century. These included a variety of ornamented cast-iron objects. Throughout Europe at this time cast iron was popular for small-scale domestic items, including hat-stands, tables and boot-scrapers. The distinguished architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel designed cast iron for the Prussian Royal Foundry in Berlin.The copying of designs by rival manufacturers was widespread and makes identification of sources uncertain. [27/03/2003]


Cast iron; Paint


Casting; Painting


Metalwork; Food vessels & Tableware


Metalwork Collection

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