Barber plates: collector’s memorabilia

In our shop, a series of plates are displayed on a wall that at first glance might make you think of simple ornaments, but which are actually ancient barber plates collected over the years by Franco Bompieri.

These are rather shallow plates with a sort of split on one side; those who had a shave generally held this object in their hand under the chin and slipped their neck into the hollow; while the barber was shaving, the soap he removed from the face was gradually deposited on the plate. Furthermore, since there was no running water, the plates were also used to rinse the brush and razor.

Barber plates were made of various materials, even quite valuable:

  • ceramic;
  • porcelain;
  • majolica (therefore made and painted entirely by hand);
  • copper;
  • pewter (an alloy composed mainly of tin and other metals such as copper or silver, used especially for artistic tableware and liturgical objects);

and they were often embellished with unique and original decorations.

Today the barber plates are no longer used, but the most refined and ancient (there are examples dating back to the 16th-17th century) represent real artistic artifacts, which have become items for collectors who find them in antique and second-hand dealers, markets and even at auctions.