Henry Clay is a major figure in the history of japanning. After working as an apprentice in John Baskerville's company, he started his own business and eventually moved to London, vacating his Birmingham factory. He was commissioned by well known patrons including George III, Queen Charlotte, the Prince of Wales and Horace Walpole. Although he died in 1812, his firm continued under the same name for almost 50 years. From its inscription, it is possible to date this tray between 1812 and 1822 when Henry Clay's firm Clay and Company started using 'London' and a crown as a signature.