|Spode (1770-1833) "Aesop's Fables The Dog In The Manger" 19 inch platter, c. 1831 (Notice the fox heads in the border)
|Spode (1770-1833) "Aesop's Fables The Dog In The Manger" printed mark
As the oldest of three children under the age of four, my mother often reminded me not to be "the dog in the manger." It can be hard for a little kid to share, but the Aesop's Fable that went along with my mother's warning taught me a valuable lesson. And, what little kid could resist a story about a dog. Or wonder about the meaning of the word "manger."
As a collector of transferware, I was delighted to find that Spode and its successors made a multiple pattern dinner service titled "Aesop's Fables." My favorite pattern, of course, is the 19 inch platter with a scene of "The Dog In The Manger." A fierce looking dog is sitting in a manger or trough filled with hay while a defeated ox looks on. The fable is as follows: "One afternoon a dog lay down to sleep in a manger. On being awoken, he ferociously kept the cattle on the farm from eating the hay on which he chose to sleep, even though he was unable to eat it himself. The moral of the fable: People often begrudge others what they cannot enjoy themselves." I will say that I was often the "doginthemanger" (I thought the four words were one!) around my two younger siblings. I still remember that I wouldn't let my little sister have my glass of chocolate milk even though I didn't want to finish it!
"The Dog In The Manger" is one of the most popular of Aesop's Fables. I found two more examples of the pattern on plates intended for 19th century children. They would be good gifts for a 21st century child!
|Unknown maker, "Aesop's Fables The Dog In The Manger" child's ABC 7.88 inch plate
|Brownhills Pottery (1872-1896), "Aesop's Fables The Dog In The Manger" child's ABC 7.38 inch plate