I fell in love immediately with the illustrations on these old Villeroy & Boch enamelware dishes--and then realized they portray three characters from the famous French Guignol puppet theatre, invented in 1808 in Lyon. That sealed the deal since I have a bit of an obsession with puppets of late (and also with many things French)! !I believe they were intended for children, but I think they would be equally great at the grown-up's table. I see them filled with olives, or figs, or dips.
Text on each dish identifies the characters and their professions: Guignol himself, a silk weaver (canut), who served as a symbol of the plight of the people of Lyon, where this industry had just been shut down; his wife, Madelon, at work in the kitchen flipping crepes; and his confidant, Gnafron, an often-inebriated shoemaker with a red face and beard.
Each dish features the Lyon coat of arms as well as a gold painted rim. The backs read: "Importe D'Autriche" (imported from Austria) "VB Lyon" and "Dessin-Depose en France" (designed in France). I am not certain of their age as I can't find another set like them anywhere , or even a match of the VB mark with star, though I am confident they are indeed Villeroy & Boch. They definitely have some years on them. They are in good shape, with some light scratches to their surfaces here and there, and some wear/aging to the enamel, most visible on the underside of the rims. Really charming.
Sold as a set of three. Each measures 8" in diameter and 1" deep.