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- Diameter 2 15/16" 74mm
- Weight 2oz 58g
- Diameter 2 15/16" 74mm
- Weight 1 3/8oz 42g
I bought this pair recently from a good source, a bric-a-brac dealer standing at a weekly market in England. The Jobling Swallow Tray is in dreadful condition, badly chipped and with severe water damage as though it had been used as a small flower pot saucer. I will keep it for reference.
The Dragonfly Tray is in fine condition, with the usual polishing of the high points of the lightly acid-matted pattern as found on most examples of the Swallow Tray. The rim finish, the rim chamfer, and the size are all identical. The only differences are dragonflies instead of swallows, and this tray is about 2mm deeper than this swallow tray (obviously always slightly variable as it depended on how much the rim was ground down).
I've always assumed that the design, modelmaking and mouldmaking was French, as it is so different from the rest of Jobling's 1930s new products. I doubt whether Jobling would have advertised the Swallow Tray in their trade catalogue had they not been manufacturing the tray themselves; an unknown demand would have been difficult to meet in a reasonable time had they been made in France. As the two trays are, in essence, identical, the Dragonfly Tray must be Jobling.
So why the rarity?
It is worth considering the status of dragonflies in Britain in the mid 1930s.
The first comprehensive illustrated guide to British Dragonflies was produced by W.J. Lucas in 1900. Long out of print and seriously out of date, it was about to be replaced by Cynthia Longfield's new guide, published January 1, 1937. With cheap rail and bus transport countryside holidays were popular with the middle classes, who became quite knowledgeable about wildlife, including dragonflies. Specialist enthusiasts termed themselves Odonatists, and were always looking for rarities and new species, also providing countrywide distribution data, then centrally collected at the British Museum and transferred to species maps.
So you can imagine Jobling's first short production run of these two trays, for examination by management, sales, and marketing. It wouldn't have been long before someone pointed out the inaccuracy of the wildlife modelling. The Swallow Tray wasn't too far off - inaccuracy could be explained as artistic licence. But the Dragonfly Tray was a disaster. Dragonflies don't have different length wings, eye-spots on their wings, bendy bodies in flight, and, worst of all, eight legs!!! And a substantial proportion of the middle classes, Jobling's target market for this glass, was fully aware of this. So production of the Dragonfly Tray was abandoned, and the trays all destroyed - except that, as always, one or two escaped.
What do you think? Have you ever seen one?