Circular white plate lettered on brim in cursive in cobalt blue: “Votes for Women."
This “Votes for Women” plate—likely used for bread and butter—is linked to Alva Vanderbilt Belmont (1853-1933) and the American suffrage movement.
After the death of her husband in 1908, Belmont threw herself into the women’s suffrage cause. She was initially skeptical about the movement’s efficacy, but after attending a meeting of the International Suffrage Alliance in London, she witnessed how militant suffragists were able to provoke discussion, attract the attention of the press, and put commercialism (such as sales of suffrage merchandise) to good use.
Belmont held two well-publicized suffrage conferences at Marble House, her Newport mansion, in the summers of 1909 and 1914, either one of which may have spurred the commission of the “Votes for Women” china. The 1909 event attracted approximately 1,000 attendees, who paid $1 to listen to a roster of distinguished speakers, or $5 to also take advantage of the exclusive opportunity to tour the interior of Marble House. The 1914 conference, known as the Conference of Great Women, was equally well publicized.
“Votes for Women” dishes were also used in the lunchrooms of Alva Belmont’s Political Equality Association in Manhattan. First located on East 34th Street, the lunchroom relocated in 1912 to the new PEA headquarters on East 41st Street just off Fifth Avenue.
Rex Stark Americana, Catalog #84 (November 2016), #147.