9/14/2022

Nostalgia - Ruscha plate "Paris"

Some years ago when I still did the "Finds of the week" posts, I had some called "I'm a collector" in which I shared vintage items. Over time my collections have mostly stopped growing due to different reasons, but they are still there and still loved. I also have single vintage items that don't belong to a particular collection, some inherited, some gifts, some from fleamarkets, some more interesting than others. So I thought it could be fun to share some of them every, now and then and tell their story.

Years ago our place was like a weird little museum separated into different decades. One of them were the 50s. On one wall was my ex's Ruscha collection. Given just the number of decorative plates Ruscha made - not counting all the vases or sculptures - it could have been much bigger.
All I wanted to keep from it was one tiny plate with a cat, what else? It now resides in one of my book cabinets, category cat books.
But wait, who or what is Ruscha?

Ruscha was a ceramic factory founded in 1905 as the Rheinbacher Tonwaren Ruscha-Keramik GmbH & Co. KG.
The name Ruscha is a combination of the first letters in the founder's name, Rudolph Schardt. The company existed until 1996 when it was taken over by the Scheurich company which also bought the name and designs. For a while, they kept producing the Ruscha designs under the name "Ruscha Art", in 2006 the name was deleted for good.

The decorative wall plates came in all shapes, sizes, and designs.
Some were partially glazed, but I also remember that we had a small vase in the same manner as the plates, the design was a little fawn that looked as if it had been scratched into the vase.
Some designs were really popular like herons, but there were also people, masks, flowers, and other animals such as penguins, fish, deer, ... and cats. I can't even imagine how many walls you'd need to collect all of them.

Next question - why is this design called "Paris" if there's only a cat?
The "Paris" designs could look very different. There could be houses in the background or a tree and they never looked the same, but there was always a street lamp and usually a young lady wearing a striped top, capris, and very high heels that remind me of the sought after vintage Barbie spikes. Sometimes she had company, I've seen one plate in which the young lady were different clothes and was talking to a young man wearing a beret, and the trash can next to the street lamp that had fallen over gave it a very realistic touch. Often there was a white glazed cat with tabby stripes.
I guess my little plate didn't have enough space to include the young lady, so there's only the lamp, the stars, and the cat.


These plates are handmade which means the design never looks exactly the same. As you can see, my cat is looking if it's ready to fall asleep during walking through the Paris night because the eyes are set so low.
There are also different positions and I've even seen a cat whose tail looked more spotted than tabby.

The back of a plate also doesn't always look the same. I have seen plates with or without marking, stamped or written in German, but also English (for the abroad market, I'd guess), with the design number or without.
"Ruscha Handarbeit" = "Ruscha handmade" has been written very carefully on this one. I would date it to the 50s, simply because some of the old letters still remind of Sütterlin writing, like the small "r" in "Handarbeit".
You can't really see that here, but the number at the top is 712 which stands for the "Paris" design.
I couldn't find out what the marking at the bottom means because unfortunately I can't even read it clearly.

I hope you had a bit fun with our trip into the 50s!

2 comments:

Michelle said...

Oh wow! I love this plate. The scene is wonderful. It looks like he’s rubbing against the lamp pole quite contentedly.

Cat said...

Now that you've said it, Michelle, I can see it, too!
It makes me think Aristocats, ohlala :-)