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IBRA Museum - Plates
publication date: May 20, 2011
The following article was published in Bee World Vol. 88 (2) 2011. Here it has been expanded to include the full collection of artifacts.
Plates are one of the smallest collections of artefacts within the museum. They are either commemorative or decorative, but none of them particularly practical! As with many of the artefacts the plates were either collected by or presented to Dr Crane whilst on her extensive travels around the world.
One of the most interesting plates was purchased by Dr Crane whilst on a trip to Germany, circa. 1970. The catalogue description of B70 153 reads: ‘German "beekeeper's plate" (Imkerteller)'. It depicts various beekeeping related images around the edge and these are explained in an accompanying leaflet as follows: The two skeps at the top symbolize beekeeping of the past, and the comb in a moveable frame in front of them represents beekeeping of today. Going clockwise around the rim we see a ‘Heideimker' or Heath-beekeeper showing the interior of a skep, this is copied from a wood caving in Dertissen, S. Germany. A candelabra with three candlesticks signifies the importance of wax for candle making. Next is the coat of arms of Pope Urban VIII, with three bees on the shield. At the bottom is a translation of an ancient Egyptian papyrus giving ‘facts' on the origin of bees. It states that they were formed out of the tears of the god Ra, shed because of the foolish behaviour of men.
Then one of the most famous figures in German folklore the ‘Zeidelmännchen' by Feucht. Zeidler was the German name for the man who owned bees in trees in the forests of ancient Europe, caring for them and taking their honey each year. He is followed by the ‘bee angel', a cupid like figure holding a skep and finally Saint Ambrosius the patron saint of beekeepers and their bees. All of these beautiful images are surrounded by a garland of blossom from acanthus, red clover, vetch, thistle, heather, apple, acacia and spruce. Each plant represents a different foraging season for the bee.
Other include B69 04, a highly decorated, china plate edged with gold fleur-de-lys and with delicate Forget-me-knots and a raised bee. This was presented to Dr Crane at the 1963 American Beekeepers Federation in San Antonio, Texas.
B05 211, a cream glazed pottery plate with a blue skep in the centre and red ribbon at the top, was presented to IBRA by the Swedish Beekeepers on their UK tour in 1987.
One of the prettiest plates was given to Dr Crane in 1976 by the Landesverbank Badischer Imker. e. v. It is 26 c.m. in diameter and a limited edition hand painted ceramic plate in delicate greens and pink depicting the Zeidelmännchen.
Another German plate is B05 284. Unfortunately, we have less information about this example which was presented by the 'Landesverband Westfalischer u. Lippischer Imker E.V'. However, this smaller (19.6 c.m. diameter) pewter plate depicts a skep surrounded by a circle and hexagon with a shield either side, one containing a horse and one a tudor rose.
Last but not least is a pretty blue & white faience plate donated by Mrs E J Briden in the late 1960's. Unlike the other plates this example is decorated with blue and white flowers but does not appear to illustrate a bee or have any connections with bee associations or organisation. However, on the reverse the makers mark is clearly a bee!