This plate is not mine, but I wish it was. It belongs to a friend's boyfriend, and it was shown to me somewhat casually; my incredibly enthusiastic response was greeted with some bemusement.
Look at this thing! (Click to enlarge.) The front is dimensional and hand-painted; the back includes all sorts of 'planetary data'. It was produced in Holland, apparently in 1957, by Frank W. Manning of New Orleans. He includes his belief that "Somewhere out in space is the secret of all life. Even the secret of the soul." How awesome is that?
I immediately checked online to see if I could buy me one of these, and turned up nothing, nada, zilch. As far as I can tell, no-one is selling their Planetary Plates. Who can blame them?
My research turned up a bit of information about Frank Manning. He was quite a colorful figure in New Orleans from the 20s through the 70s. He was born in 1903, and was Chief Investigator for the Louisiana Department of Justice. Prior to that he was Chief Investigator for the Department of Revenue for the State of Louisiana. In the '30s he served as one of Huey Long's bodyguards.
He was also a scientist, inventor, and avid amateur astronomer. He assembled two of the world's largest mobile telescopes, and was the first person to depict the topography of the moon on a sphere (the “Manning Moon Ball”). He also patented and manufactured the Manning Tasty Shrimp Fish Lure.
How cool is that?