Sample design plates are very rare. They were made for store displays. A circa 1795 Chinese export plate showing four sample borders, one with a monogram, auctioned for over $8,000 this year in New York. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Sample design plates are very rare. They were made for store displays. A circa 1795 Chinese export plate showing four sample borders, one with a monogram, auctioned for over $8,000 this year in New York. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)

Do you know the joke about a set of special-order dishes?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A black-and-white design for colorful plates was sent to China…

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