These portraits faithfully copy a pair of engravings printed by E. Baldwin for London Magazine in 1754. Elizabeth Canning, born in 1734, went missing for a month and appeared in a dishevelled state in January 1753 saying she had been abducted by the gypsy Mary Squires. Mary Squires was convicted of abduction but many disbelieved Elizabeth Canning and she was later tried for perjury and deported. The incident enthralled the nation and opinion was divided as to what really happened. Interestingly, an old newspaper cutting is attached to the base of the present dish with further information on the case: that Mary Squires was assisted in the abduction by Susannah Wells; that the two were condemned to death but pardonned by the Lord Mayor of London; that Canning was believed to have been given one hundred pounds compensation; that Canning may have spent her month in 'concubinage, or had withdrawn herself in order to be delivered of a child'; and that Henry Fielding, the novelist, was the magistrate who heard the case against Squires and Wells and wrote a pamphlet on the side of Canning; he later, realising he may have been mistaken, admitted "In solemn truth, the only error I can be charged with in this case is an error in sagacity. If E Canning be guilty of a false (accusation), I own she hath been capable of imposing (on me)".
A very similar dish is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, illustrated by Hervouët and Bruneau, La Porcelaine des Compagnies des Indes à Décor Occidental, Paris, 1986, p. 205, fig. 9.39. Another, was sold in our New York Rooms, 15 October 1986, lot 192. It is known that pairs of English pottery mugs were made following these events, with one portrait on each. Indeed at least three Chinese mugs are recorded, but all bear the portrait of Mary Squires. See Howard and Ayers, China for the West, London and New York, 1978, vol. I, p.256, no. 252 for a mug in the Mottahedeh Collection, and the engravings as fig. 252a.