The wonderful dimensional botanical plaques by the Connoisseur studio were produced in a variety of sizes and editions and were in fact invented by the studio’s founder, Diane Lewis. Our retrospective begins in the early 1980s.
The Pink Perfection plaque measures 10” wide and 13.5” h ; it is 17” wide x 20” high framed. (25 cm x 34 cm; 43 cm x 51 cm framed) As per the backstamp this is a 1982 issue and has the “As seen through the eyes of a butterfly” logo. During the mid/late 1980s this plaque retailed for $4500.
Fields of Autumn reminds me very much of the 1985 sculpture named ‘Summer Harvest’ which is shown in the Flowers, Part Four review. It has the same dimensions as Pink Perfection and Lavender Blue.
There are a number of different series of the smaller dimensional plaques, including Shakespeare’s Flowers which are profiled separately, as well as two Royal wedding commemoratives.
Fruits and Berries
This was a series of four plaques, each a limited edition of 50 and measuring approximately 9” x 12” (25 cm x 32 cm). Sold mounted and framed behind glass.
Crab Apple celebrates the well known spring flowering trees of the Malus species. Although the small fruit is too sour for many tastes, rootstocks are sometimes used to improve domestic apple varieties.
Quince can refer to either the edible species (Cydonia oblonga) or the ornamental (Chaenomeles spp., often called ‘Japanese quince’) although even the ornamental species can produce fruit.
In the UK, the tree most often called Wild Cherry is Prunus avium, the “bird cherry”; however, in the USA the name is sometimes also applied to Prunus serotina. Both species are favorites of birds and caterpillars.
Sloe depicts the flowers and fruit of Prunus spinosa, also called “blackthorn” because of its dark colored bark. “Sloe gin” is a mixture of gin, sugar, and sloe fruits infused together to produce a liqueur.
This too was a series of four framed plaques, each an edition of 50 and measuring approximately 9” x 12” (25 cm x 32 cm).
Blush of Spring offers the earliest blooms of snowdrops, primroses, narcissus and fluffy catkins. There is no butterfly in this study, because it’s too early for any to emerge!
Summer Splendour includes purple foxglove and cheerful daisies.
Berries, fruits and acorns steal the show in Shades of Autumn although there are still some late bloomers as well.
The Winter’s Glow grouping of pure white ‘Christmas rose’ (Helleborus niger) with sprays of dark green holly, bright red berries and mistletoe, captures the essence of the holiday season.
Royal Wedding Commemoratives
The first wedding commemorative was the Royal Wedding Plaque for the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.
Although the backstamp states that the design was “Inspired by the wedding bouquet carried by Lady Diana Spencer at her marriage to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales on 29th July 1981″ there is no issue year specified; however it is likely that it was 1981 as well. This plaque was an edition of 150 produced for and sold exclusively by the long-established Mulberry Hall fine china and crystal shop in York, which closed in 2016 after 60 years in business. Likely designed by a collaboration between Diane Lewis and Wendy Green, the plaque is 14″ x 17′ and 3.5” thick including the frame (36cm x 43cm x 9cm.) This puts it into the same size category as the first three botanical plates shown.
Each plaque came in a specially sized silk-lined box bearing the Connoisseur logo. Here is a Bridal Posy in its original box.
Lucky Charm was an edition of 50 in 1986, designed by Freda Griffiths, to celebrate the wedding of Prince Andrew and Miss Sarah Ferguson. This had a retail price of $700 and is the same size as Bridal Posy.
Miniature Botanical Plaques
(2019 Update) I recently became aware that the studio produced a number of small miniature botanical plaques that I had not seen in any advertising literature that I currently have. Hopefully more of these will turn up in the future for documentation!
This holiday-themed miniature oval plaque is called Memory Lane. Issued in 1988, it was autographed in 1989 by its designer, Chris Ashenden. It is only 4.75″ (12cm) high.
Fort Royal Galleries series
Connoisseur created a special series of six plaques for the Fort Royal Galleries in Worcester, although I do not know the issue year. The designer of these plaques was Freda Griffiths, and they measure approximately 6” x 8” (15 cm x 20 cm). Unlike the foregoing botanical plaques, this series is not three-dimensional.
An undated but mid-late 1980s retailer price list includes a Baby Talk Rose plaque as an edition of 15, priced at $1200. Unfortunately this is a text-only list and thus no image was included. The Roses, Part One post includes the Diane Lewis sculpture of the same rose.
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