Tenniel family menu cards up for auction

Menu cards  (porcelain plaques), created by John Tenniel for family dinners, based on his illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, are up for auction at PBA Galleries (133 Kearny St, San Francisco) – low estimate $20k, high estimate $30k. The product description from their website:

Six small hand-painted porcelain plaques by John Tenniel, each with its own wrought-iron miniature easel. Each has a character from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass taking up about a quarter of the plaque, with the remainder blank, and “Menu” written at the top of each. The plaques measure 5×3½; the easels are about 7½” high.

Marvelous and unique group of original hand-painted plaques used as menu cards for the Tenniel family dinners, descended in the family over the years. The night’s fare was evidently written in the blank spaces with a crayon or grease pencil, then wiped off after the meal was completed. The characters pictured are The White Rabbit (with his pocket-watch), the Mock Turtle (crying away), the Frog Footman (delivering a letter), the Walrus (without the Oysters and the Carpenter), the Leg of Mutton (taking a bow), and a frog with a rake. The plaques have a small wooden case with a removable top, on which is a label with writing “China (Delicate)”. The case top has two sides missing, some other wear.

One thought on “Tenniel family menu cards up for auction

  1. Clearly the description of the Walrus “without the Oysters or Carpenter” is a small mistake.

    Has anyone thought to reproduce these menu cards & make them generally available?

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