This pair of antique faience plates was made by the firm of Utzschneider in Sarreguemines, France between 1875 and 1900. They are part of a series of 12 that are illustrated with caricatures of French military life by famed artist/illustrator Albert Guillaume (1873-1942). The plates each have a facsimile of Guillame's signature at the lower left (d'après Guillaume which means "after Guillame" so not actually signed by him.) In the 1890's Guillaume had his satirical army illustrations published in albums; we've shown the cover of one that's entitled "My 28 Days."
The colloquial humor displayed in the quotations on the plates is not easy for us to grasp but here are the translations nonetheless:
Plate 8: Il doit être peintre vot' père? Il vous en a flanqué une couche! Mais, Sergent, on m'a pris mon kepi!
--Your father must be a painter? He gave you a layer!
--But, Sergeant, they took my cap!
The sergeant is telling the soldier he is lazy ('couche' is to lay down in French, so the soldier is "a layer")
--Sale section! Y en a pas un qui marche ensemble!
--Dirty section! There is not one that works together!
Note the red trousers. France finally changed to an early form of camouflage after World War I, when, after they refused to stop issuing red trousers as a point of national pride, thousands of French soldiers died, easy targets for German machine guns.
There is a piece of old white string on the back of each plate, looped through the pierced holes in the foot rim, probably not the best method of hanging. Each plate is 8 5/8 inches in diameter and an inch high, slightly dished and weighing about 3/4 pound. The mark on the back in black script is "Sarreguemines" overlaid with the letters "U & C" for Utzschneider et Cie (and Company). The plates are in very good condition with no chips or cracks. There is overall fine crazing, so faint in most areas it is hard to see without magnification. Plate # 9 (the marching soldiers) has some crazing in the upper area that has discolored, but is not objectionable. They're wonderful, collectible antique French plates, as at home in the living room or dining room as they are in a study or man cave.
>>>Information on the dating of the backstamp is from the website InfoFaience. Here is the link: