CHINESE EXPORT PORCELAIN PLATE made for Sir Alexander Mackenzie

GENUINE CHINESE EXPORT PORCELAIN PLATE from the dinner service made for Sir Alexander Mackenzie, decorated with his family crest, special-ordered by Mackenzie through the East India Company (c1800) while he was in London between 1799 and 1802.  The dinner ware was passed on to his cousin Roderick McKenzie when he returned to Scotland in 1812.

Plate: 7.5” (19cm) diameter.  Decorated with gilt-accented floral designs and borders, with the full-colour Mackenzie family coat-of-arms as the central focus.  The arms consist of a stag’s head on a gold-rimmed shield of azure, surmounted by a helmet of mountains in flames and a red-accented crest with the bannered motto “Leceo Non Uro” (“I Shine Not Burn” or “Light Not Darkness”), all atop two crossed branches of green foliage and red buds or berries.  The colours are symbolic of specific values: gold for generosity and worthy ambition; azure for truth and loyalty; green for hope, joy and loyalty in love; and red for military fortitude and magnanimity. 

The plate has a slightly uneven surface, and bluish tinge, which is characteristic of the original dinner ware set. Based on our examination, we believe the plate to be one of the original pieces from Mackenzie’s collection.

Alexander Mackenzie, the first explorer after Samuel Hearne to reach the Arctic Ocean, and the first to reach the Pacific Ocean by an overland route, was knighted shortly after the release of his monumental work “Voyages from Montreal” in 1801. 

The original dinner ware which he brought with him to Montreal in 1802, was used by Alexander Mackenzie and his family for ten years before he passed the surviving pieces on to his cousin Roderick

Provenance: The Inverarden Regency Cottage Museum Collection Auction Sale, Sept 24/27, 1999.   Lot 246.  Their cataloguing note attests to the belief that this item is from the original set, and not from the later group ordered by Roderick Mackenzie. [Ref.:  Webster, D.  CANFAKE.  An Expert’s Guide to the Tricks of the Canadian Antiques Trade.  Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1997.  Page 138.]
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