It’s almost time to say goodbye to 2011, and hello to 1909!

This 8.25″ diameter calendar plate, “Compliments of W. Hicks, Rockville, Md.,” was given or sold by Washington Hicks, owner of a general store in downtown Rockville, 104 years ago. 

Calendar plates have been made since the late 19th century, and are still produced today (though in my experience, modern freebie advertising calendars tend to be paper, not ceramic).  They were particularly popular as an advertising medium in the early 20th century; a search of the internet, or your local collectibles/antiques store, reveals many such plates, with their pleasant images, useful (if often extremely small) calendar markings, and an added “Compliments of…” inscription.  The history of our plate between leaving Mr. Hicks’ store and arriving at the Society (donated by Mrs. Merritt Techter) is unknown, but the wear marks indicate that it was used as a plate, not as a decoration (though perhaps it did spend a year serving as a functional calendar).

Washington Hicks operated his general or dry goods store in Rockville from the late 19th century until 1940 – hey, when you’re 90 years old, I guess you can retire (he died in 1944).  His son W. Guy Hicks continued to run the store until his own retirement in the late 1950s.  We have a few other odds and ends from the store, including letterhead from the 1900s proclaiming Hicks to be a “Dealer in Foreign and Domestic Dry Good, Notions.”  The photo below shows the storefront in 1910; signs above the door advertise “Dry Goods, Notions, Shoes, Clothing, Etc.  Crockeries, Queensware, Hardware,” and displayed outside are rakes, wash tubs, a lawnmower, and what I think might be ice cream makers. 

Charles Brewer collection, MCHS Library