Thomas Tucker, one of the principals in the Tucker Porcelain Manufactury of Philadelphia (1826-1838) was responsible for the management and processes of the factory after 1832, the year his brother, pottery founder William Ellis Tucker, died. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has a business card in its archival collections for Thomas, listing the same address as noted on the manuscript applied to the back of one of the plaques. This card reads, Thomas Tucker, Importer of French Porcelain and English China, No. 100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. The Philadelphia directories list Tucker at this address from 1836-1843 carrying on the described business. A comparison of the handwriting on this manuscript label to other known handwriting of Thomas Tucker in the archival collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and in the Philadelphia Museum of Art confirms the same author.
A close examination of the style of painting and application technique of the landscape decoration on the plaques shows a close relationship to the techniques used on several documented pieces of porcelain from the Tucker Factory in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, most notably the large pair of urns in the collection bearing landscape views of the Fairmount Waterworks. Other landscape decorated examples also show a close tie in the areas of the execution of the foliage of the trees and gilt layer technique over a magenta band, as is seen on the border of the plaques.
Thomas Tucker is thought to have been one of the principal decorators of the porcelains produced at the Tucker Factory during its brief years of operation, and is known to have continued in the business as a china merchent briefly after the close of the factory in 1838. He may have taken unsold stock and unfinished wares as a basis for his own stock after the closing. His brother William, who first experimented with decorating imported blanks in 1816-1826, also had a china shop together with their father, Benjamin.
These earlier experiments with painted decoration on imported blanks led William's interest to further experimentation in porcelain maunfacturing and kiln firing processes. By 1826, William had perfected the process and began the full production of porcelain wares in all of its processes the following year. In 1829, at the insistence of his father, William took his brother Thomas into the business.
Basing the forms and decorative styles it produced on imported English, French and Continental prototypes, the factory was constantly plagued with financial restrictions and unsuccessful partnerships. Throughout its years of production, there is evidence that the firm continued both to produce its own blanks and to decorate imported white-glazed finished blanks for sale. A pair of flared "spill" vases in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art are split evidence of this pattern, with one vase being a Tucker produced and decorated blank and the other imported, virtually identical mate also decorated ensuite at the factory.
Only one other form of wall plaque is currently known to have been produced at the factory. This pair descended in the family of Anee Tucker Earp, same line of descent as the group of factory archives and pattern books now in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The ultra violet short and long wave light tests performed on these examples suggest they are either German or French glazed white blanks, given the brownish pink flourescence in comparison to the lavender tone effect seen on most Tucker produced examples. As such, they give further example to the use and decoration of imported glazed blanks at the factory and after its closing by Thomas at his china shop. They do however, show the manufacturing flaws (ashe speckling and pooled glaze uneveness) and raw surface edge common on works produced at the factory. The hand of decoration, together with the character of the gilt decoration and its underlayer, show a close tie to Thomas' attributed work and to his watercolor patterns in the surviving pattern books.