Maker: Cast by Hibernia Furnace , Morris County, New Jersey
Geography: Made in Morris County, New Jersey, United States
Dimensions: 12 x 29 3/4 in. (30.5 x 75.6 cm)
Credit Line: Purchase, The Dobson Foundation Inc. Gift, 2006
Accession Number: 2006.548
Firebacks and single plates from stoves are about all that survive to remind us of the great iron foundries of New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania that were part of the largest industry in colonial America. The ornamental plates, though of the basest of metals, were cast from mahogany patterns, the handiwork of the best furniture carvers. Early examples were decorated with biblical quotations and static arrangements of hearts and tulips that followed German precedents (47.137.10). Plates made after 1770 and decorated with the playful naturalistic motifs of the English rococo, dismissed as decadent by early twentieth-century collectors, are now exceedingly rare. This plate, without foliage, features a ribbon-like banner inscribed "ROSS & BIRD + HIBERNIA FURNACE 1782." George Ross and Mark Bird Jr., leading entrepreneurs in the Pennsylvania iron business, operated the Hibernia Furnace in Morris County, New Jersey, in the 1780s.