852 RARE: Serving Up a Sampling of Plates

852 RARE: Serving Up a Sampling of Plates

Inspired by the array of objects in this drawer, I wanted to highlight some of the plates we have in Historical & Special Collections for this installment of 852 RARE. They come in a variety of materials and sizes and are from a number of different collections. Each has an interesting story to tell. I hope you enjoy this small sampling of plates!

Some of the plates in Historical & Special Collections, Harvard Law School Library

Campus Plates

Langdell Hall commemorative plate (blue), 1927
Wedgwood, Etruria England
22 cm Queensware plate
Accession no. 2017.19

This is one of two Wedgwood plates in the collection depicting Langdell Hall, the other copy is red and was issued in 1932. The 1927 set was the first set of college plates that Wedgwood issued. The set included 12 views of Harvard University with a fruit and flower border that according to one collector was based on a design used on Harvard dining hall china c.1840.

Dane Hall commemorative plate (red), 1952
Wedgwood of Etruria & Barlaston, England
26.5 cm Queensware plate
Accession no. 2005.02.1

This is one of two Wedgwood plates in the collection depicting Dane Hall ca.1852; the other copy is in blue. According to the stamp on the back, this is a limited edition plate made in England exclusively for the Harvard Cooperative Society. Wedgwood issued this as part of set of 12 dinner plates that featured images of Harvard in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. See our copy of the lithograph this image is based on olvwork364043

Walter Hastings Hall plate, Accession no. 2017.70

Walter Hastings Hall Commemorative plate, early 20th century?
Made in Germany
12 cm ceramic plate
Accession no. 2017.70

This small white decorative plate with gold edges and a color image of Walter Hastings Hall in the center was a gift of Anne Elizabeth Bishop “in Loving Memory of My Father, Dr. Orvel Calhoun Crowder, S.T.B. 1957 Harvard Divinity School and my Great Grandfather Dr. Hall Laurie Calhoun, M.A. 1903, Ph.D. 1904, Harvard.” Hastings Hall was completed in 1889 as a Harvard University dormitory. Law students have been living there since at least 1924—it is the oldest residence hall at the Harvard Law School and currently houses 97 students.

Student Plates

Melamine plate, black background, head and shoulder view of John G. Roberts.

Learned Handmade Plates, 2008
José Klein ’08
10-inch melamine plates
Accession no. 2008.01.1-31

Klein designed 31 melamine plates depicting Supreme Court justices, as well famous law school cases in order to fulfill his Harvard Law School written work requirement. For a period of time, Klein sold copies of the set to collectors via his personal website, which is how Historical & Special Collections came to acquire its set.

“As a collection, the Learned Handmade Plates represent an album of the American Law School Experience. The plates are snapshots from the core of law as it is taught. Most law students have been expected to memorize most of the cases depicted here. They have been evaluated on the basis of how well they can reproduce the information these cases contain. . . . The Supremes on the other hand, remain. They have established permanent settlements in the imagination of the American Law Student. They are fetish objects, things to be held in adulation and contempt, to be stared into but never penetrated. In this sense, the Supremes are oracles. . . . The plates ask the eater/viewer to engage with the law as it is made by judges. They turn the act of eating into an act of civic engagement.”


The Record, April 24, 2008, Volume 126, no. 12

“The plates ask the eater/viewer to engage with the law as it is made by judges. They turn the act of eating into an act of civic engagement.”


José Klein, The Record

Faculty Plates

Black-patterned Chinese plate, 1948
13.75 in. bronze enameled plate
Roscoe Pound Visual Materials Collection
Engraving: “Roscoe Pound / Given By The / Chinese National Government / 1948.”

Underside of bronze enameled plate. center of the bottom has an engraved message in Chinese and in English: “Roscoe Pound / Given By The / Chinese National Government / 1948.”
Underside of the bronze plate given to Roscoe Pound

Among our collection of Roscoe Pound visual materials is a bronze enameled plate given to him by the Chinese National Government in 1948. Pound served as dean of the Harvard Law School for twenty years (1916-1936) and in the 1940s served as an advisor to the Ministry of Justice in Nanking, China. The visual materials collection also includes photographs of Pound in China, including this photograph of Pound posing with members of the Hebei Court, Beiping, China.

Judge Baker Guidance Center plate, 1971?
Lunt Sterling
28 cm sterling silver plate
Eleanor T. (Eleanor Touroff) and Sheldon Glueck Visual Materials, Accession no. 1970.01.4
Engraving: “Eleanor Glueck / IN APPRECIATION OF / 40 YRS SERVICE / TO / THE JUDGE BAKER GUIDANCE CENTER”

Eleanor Glueck (1898-1972) and her husband, Sheldon spent their careers studying and writing about issues related to juvenile delinquency. In 1934 they published One Thousand Juvenile Delinquents: Their Treatment by Court and Clinic, a study of delinquents referred by the Boston juvenile court to the Judge Baker Guidance Center (JBGC). The JBGC (formerly known as the Judge Baker Foundation) was founded in 1917 “as a charitable and educational institution for the guidance of emotionally disturbed children.” Its work included community education, research, and training, eventually becoming the home of an organized program of training and research in child development. Eleanor served as trustee at the JBGC from 1932 until her death in 1972.

Golden Plate Award, 1967
American Academy of Achievement
Framed ceramic plate and metal plaque
Diplomas, honorary degrees, citations and awards of persons affiliated with Harvard Law School. 1834-, HOLLIS 990094615880203941

View of golden plate mounted on red velvet background with metal plate mounted on red velvet background in gold frame.
Paul Freund’s Golden Plate award

We have a number of commemorative plates given to Professor Paul Freund (1908-1992) over the years. The Golden Plate Award has been presented since 1961 by the American Academy of Achievement, a nonprofit foundation, founded by Brian Blaine Reynolds to “bring aspiring young people together with real-life heroes. . .” In 1967, Freund was honored in connection with his constitutional law scholarship. Printed on the plate: “American / Academy of Achievement / Prof. Paul A. Freund.”  Learned Hand, another Harvard Law School alumnus, was also a recipient in the 1960s.

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