The Beaman plate: In 1905, Mrs. Eileen M. Beaman put out privately a limited edition of 25 dozen plates on the occasion of the visit of Theodore Roosevelt to Williams College. Mrs. Beaman, a former resident of North Adams and Williamstown, selected as the center scene the view of Main Street in Williamstown engraved by John Warner Barber for the Historical collections, a general collection of interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches . . . relating to the history and antiquities of every town in Massachusetts . . . (Dorr, Howland & Co., 1840). She designed the border of blossoms and decorative leaves and placed the order with Josiah Wedgwood & Sons. The plates were sold at the Greylock Hotel at Commencement time.
The original Williams Wedgwood plates: In the 1930s, the Williams College Society of Alumni and the Alumni Loyalty Fund contracted with the Wedgwood Company to produce a series of plates depicting Williams College scenes. Scheduled for production in Staffordshire blue, green, mulberry and dark purple, by February 1934 only the blue plates had been shipped. The purple, blue and mulberry all became available by June 1936.
The set of plates includes one each of twelve scenes: West College in 1790, the Haystack Monument, Chapin Hall, Lawrence Hall, Griffin Hall, Lasell Gymnasium, the campus in 1830, Thompson Memorial Chapel, the President’s house, the old Observatory, a portrait of Mark Hopkins, and Stetson Library. The border is the same for each, comprising a panorama of the mountains surrounding Williamstown. The motto of the College is also included: E Liberalitate E. Williams Armigeri, which translates roughly as ‘through the generosity of E. Williams, soldier.’ The first 250 sets sold bore the signature of President Harry Garfield on the reverse of each plate. Each set was originally priced to sell for $16.00.
Later reproduction Williams plates: Since 1982, the Williams Alumni Office has begun to reissue the series on an irregular basis. The plates are available in purple with an off-white background and, although the images are the same as those produced in the 1930s, the new series does not have fluted edges. The plates are not available for purchase, but rather are given as gifts to donors. Beginning about 1998, the contract for producing the Williams plates was given to Staffordshire Potteries.