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Admiral Digby Museum


Accession number: 1978.27
Category: Serving vessel
Date: 1701 – 1977
Materials: Ceramic
Subject: Willow Pattern
Narrative: This platter was owned by Major Robert Timpany. It made its way across the ocean roughly around 1790 and was given to the Admiral Digby Museum by one of his descendents, Winnifred (Robbins) (Timpany) Comeau. Major Robert Timpany was born before 1742 and originally born in Ireland where he received an education at the University of Glasgow. Robert Timpany was a Loyalist, of the 3rd Battalion New Jersey Volunteers during the American Revolution. Before he joined the Revolution, in 1760 he emigrated to Philadelphia, was a teacher at Hackensack, engaged and married his wife Sara Clark in 1770. In 1776 he was present at the Battle of Long Island. Other notable battles he fought in were Guilford, Cowpens, Eutaw and Charleston. He became wounded and could no longer fight so in 1783 he traveled to Digby aboard a transport called Atalanta. He died in 1844 at the age of 102 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia with his daughter Charlotte by his side.
Description: The platter is oval in shape. Primarily blue and white, appears to be of Blue Willow pattern. There is a scenery depicted on center of platter. Notable images include a cherry blossom tree, a home, a fence along the yard, two sparrows, and a bridge with three people on it.
History of Use: The pattern and imagery on this platter is known as The Willow Pattern or Blue Willow Pattern. The Willow Pattern was connected to the China trade of ceramics and was the most familiar to the West. The image was produced by British engravers in the late eighteenth century and comes from Chinese models. It is not an accurate depiction of Chinese culture and is mostly an imitation. The pattern is that of a Chinese legend: that the daughter of a wealthy Mandarin fell in love with the family accountant. Her father did not approve and promised her to a duke. The bride and the accountant run off together but are eventually killed by the duke. They are turned into swallows by the gods who pity them.