Worcester Flight Barr and Barr plate titled Prince Regent entering Muscat Cove
Extremely rare hand-painted plate and of historic importance to Oman with the title" Prince Regent entering Muscat Cove" This plate was part of a Flight Barr & Barr royal service presented by The King of Britain to Sultan bin Said (father of princess Emily Ruete) and sent on board the yacht Prince Regent. So only one dinner set was produced!
Mr R W Binns (see ref 3) described the dinner service in his book “A Century of Potting in the City of Worcester, being the history of the Royal Porcelain Works from 1751 to 1851” published in 1865 and in 1877: "The plate is from one of the last services made by Flight & Barr and was made as a present from King William IV to the Imaum (=sultan) of Muscat. The Imaum in 1836 had sent as a present to the King a small teak battle ship of the line (Liverpool) , containing presents of an Eastern character (including several Arab horses) In return, the King (of Britain) gave a present of his royal yacht, the “Prince Regent”, which was freshly fitted out with gilding and painting and filled with presents, including musical instruments and the Flight Barr and Barr dinner service. Yachts, cots and what-nots, all gegilt and gefamed”. The Imaum is said to have been highly indignant at what he regarded as a very tawdry present of a small sailing yacht, having expected a steam vessel. The dinner service is actually of great elegance with the gilt gadrooned edge, and the green ground border, reserving the Imaum’s crest at the top and in the centre of the pieces a remarkably accurate painting of the Prince Regent entering Muscat Cove, showing the scene of the approach to the harbour with the forts on the twin rocks guarding the entry"
Above: The Illustration of the Flight, Barr & Barr plate "Prince Regent entering Muscat Cove" in the book by R.W. Binns published in 1856. The illustration matches the plate in our collection.
The ship Prince Regent entering Muscat Cove. Part of service given by the King of England to Said bin Sultan.
Princess Emily Ruete and her husband Heinrich owned one of these plates. Heinrich bought the plate in England before 1870. That plate was given to Sultan Taimur during his visit to London in 1928. The Sultan put the plate into his study at the palace in Muscat! The above text was handwritten by Rudolph Said -Ruete the son of Princess Emily Ruete (Bibi Salme). See ref 4.
The plate has some scratches in the green border, otherwise in fine condition. The back is stamped: Royal porcelain works Flight Barr & Barr Worcester Coventry St. London. It also has a mark consisting of a crown and a letter pressed into the porcelain (similar to older pieces of Worcester porcelain) . The crest of the Sultan consists of a golden crown and a red background and with 7 small crescents. Below a large golden crescent. We assume the used Crest of the Imaum / Sultan is a British invention, however we are not sure about this (for centuries Oman had a red flag as its symbol which may explain the red background to the crown and crescents. The crescents represent Islam and the chosen type of crown reflecting the importance of a Sultan compared to other noblemen in Europe. The ship Liverpool was given by the Sultan / Imaum to King William IV was sailed by Captain Cogan in 1835 from Bombay to England. The ship also had two fine Arabian horses on board as part of the present. During September 1837 it was again Captain Cogan who sailed the Yacht Prince Regent, the Kings return-present to the Sultan, to Zanzibar, the rich furnishing of the ship included the Worcester dinner service. Captain Cogan was rewarded for his good work with a sword. The sultan also gave him the title Kejan Khan (i.e. a Noble) While the official records state the Sultan was very happy with the presents (Arab politeness?), several other sources, including the adventurer/ writer Richard Burton, indicate he was very unhappy with the yacht Prince Regent.... The British have not been very successful with their presents to the Sultans of Oman and Zanzibar. Queen Victoria sent a coach to the sultan, but unfortunately Zanzibar lacked the roads to use a coach. When Oman gave the Kuria Muria islands with its very rich fertiliser (Guano) deposits to the British they gave only a golden snuff box in return. The biggest disaster happened in 1844 when queen Victoria sent a rich set of silver cutlery as a present to the Sultan of Zanzibar. When the consul in the presence of the Sultan opened the crate supposedly containing the present, it contained to their horror a gravestone! Clearly crates had been mixed up. (The gravestone was intended for a diseased wife of an African missionary) For more details see Notes of Travel by Joseph Osgood (ref 7)
Below the title on the bottom of the plate
Name: "Prince Regent entering Muscat cove" Worcester Flight Barr and Barr plate, part of a specially made royal service given by the King of England William IV to the Sultan (Imaum) of Oman Said bin Sultan on board a yacht that was also a present. The yacht the Prince Regent is hand-painted in the center of the plate before Muscat cove note the red flag on the yacht (flag of Oman)
Period: The royal service was produced in 1837
Origin: Royal service made in England by Flight Barr & Barr and presented by The King of Britain to Sultan bin Said (father of Bibi Salme) and sent on board the ship Prince Regent (shown on the plate)
- Richard Burton, Zanzibar: City, Island and Coast, Tinsley Brothers, London. two volumes. Volume 1 pages 268-269: "The useless, tawdry 'Prince Regent"presented by H.B. Majesty's Government to the late Sayyid , was by him passed over in 1840 to the Governor-General of India. it was sold at Calcutta, and for many years it was, as a transport, the terror of the eastern soldier. The Sayyid could not pray amongst the 'idols' of gilding and carving; he saw pollution in every picture , and his Arabs supposed the royal berth to be the Tabut Hazrat Isa - Our Lord's coffin. Instead of this article he wished to receive the present of a steamer, but political and other objections prevented. See Wellsted's Travels in Arabia vol I p 403. This author exposes , without seeming to know that he was doing so , the selfish and short-sighted policy of the H.E.I. Company which wanted a squadron subsidiary to its own"
- A soup-terrine from the same royal dinner service approx. 28 cm high with heavily damaged but restored cover was sold at auctioneers Lempertz in Germany for 16000 euro lot 732 November 14 2014 See slide-show photo! This terrine did not have the crown mark pressed into the porcelain, however it did have one of the Flight Barr & Barr marks printed in red.
- The plate and its spectacular background is described in detail in Mr R W Binns book titled “A Century of Potting in the City of Worcester, being the history of the Royal Porcelain Works from 1751 to 1851” published in 1865 and in 1877. page 126 to 128 incl large illustration of identical plate!!!!!
- The Said Ruete Library in the NINO Leiden owns a copy of Burtons Zanzibar: City, island and coast. Rudolph Said Ruete (son of Pricness Emily Ruete) has handwritten on the bottom of page 269 of volume 1: "A plate with the picture 'Prince Regent entering Muscat Cove' was produced by Royal Porcelain Works Flight, Barr and Barr. Worcester Coventry London . Purchased by my father in England before 1870. presented to Sultan of Muscat , Taimur when in England in 1928. In his study in Muscat"
- BBC Antiques Roadshow in Dyrham Park Sept 23 2013 a large terrine from the same dinner service was shown / discussed, but this one did not have the indented marks on the bottom
- At Adams´s auction in Dublin Ireland an identical plate was sold for GBP 520 excluding premium. March 12 2008. The auction catalog did not mention the important pedigree / background of the plate........
- Joseph B.F. Osgood, Notes of Travel or recollections of Majunga, Zanzibar, muscat, Aden, Mocha and other Eastern ports, Salem 1854 page 65-66 "More reasonable charity is it to question the judgement and forsight of those entrusted with their selection, than to attribute the avarice of the Imaum the displeasing fate of the presents sent him by the English and American governments. The gross misrepresentation that he sold, with perfect contempt, the several presents made by our government, in 1833 should be peremptorily contradicted. The coach which queen Victoria sent him, at an expense of nine thousand dollars, could add to the pleasure and comfort of the Imaum, upon the soft impeding sands of Zanzibar, about as much as a pair of the Imaum's clumsy, wet-weather sandals would add to the value and utility of Queen Victoria's splendid wardrobe. By good authority I have been informed that it has not been dismantled of its decorations that they might be sold, but it still remains in the casing in which it was sent. The light yacht which our government sent him in 1841, at a cost of three thousand dollars, was destined to be shaken into fritters, in the hand of rough Arab boatmen, had they not endangered the Imaum's life by nearly upsetting it while he was on board. Not thinking it is a safe boat he had it laid up in ordinary on board his frigate "Shah Allum" (King of the World) where it gained the commendation of the British consul and the Imaum in his generosity made him a present of it. His liberality was subsequently rewarded by the gift from the consul of a safe boat procured in this country at an expense of 450 dollars. In this connection it may be well remembered that the Arabian Horses sent by the Imaum about that time as a present to the president of the United States, were sold by public auction in the city of Washington. A rich silver service was presented to him by Queen Victoria in 1844. The British consul, soon after he had been informed by letter that this intended present had been shipped, was notified of the arrival of a case of merchandise, directed to him; not being informed of its contents and supposing that the case contained the Queen's gift, he sent it to the palace, to be opened in the presence of the Imaum. Imagine the holy horror and supersttious awe of the Imaum, and the discomfiture of the consul, when the contents of the case proved to be a gravestone, intended to perpetuate the memory of a recently deceased wife of an African missionary. Said's superstition will perhaps excuse him for bestowing the silver service upon his personal friends when it did arrive, soon after"
- Wellsted Travels in Arabia London Vol 1 page 403
- History Indian Navy II p 15
- Proceedings of the Royal Asiatic Society, 6 V 1837 p 12
- Gobineau, Trois ans en Asie, 1859 p 90