Saturday, April 7, 2018

It's Dishes Day!

People who know me know that I love books. I have a library in my house with shelves full of books and a sliding library ladder that allows easy access to those on the highest shelves.

But people may not know that I also love dishes—I’m talking plates and bowls, cups and saucers, teapots and pitchers.

Teapot from my sister and vintage platter
I own a lot of china, pottery, and glassware:

A white-on-white Moonspun Lenox fine china setting for eight, almost 50 years old now, made in the USA. This pattern was made by Lenox from 1968-1995.

Moonspun by Lenox
Vintage china passed down from my mother, or given to me by friends from their mothers and grandmothers.  
Vintage china and stoneware
There are beautiful plates with sky blue rims and 24 karat gold borders around a floral bouquet, passed down from my mother who received them as wedding gifts.  My sisters and I each have two plates to display in our homes.
Vintage plate, made in the USA, passed down from my mom
I have fine bone china from several English companies, a plate from Germany perfect for serving cookies, china from Japan, old stoneware, and other plates from US china makers. The place of origin and the marks on the bottom tell a story about each piece.
China cabinet in dining room

I love all this sweet vintage china.
The 50th anniversary gold-plated coffee set, with a mark that says Winterling Bavaria Germany that belonged to Ricky’s grandparents. 

A glimpse of the gold plated china and the demitasse cup 
A collection of demitasse cups from Ricky’s mother, some plain white, others decorated with pink roses or butterflies, and one advertising the May 12, 1937 coronation of Prince Edward VIII.

Cut glass pieces inherited from my parents and Ricky’s aunt and uncle. 
 Detail of cut glass reflected in mirrored walls of china cabinet
Our everyday Botanic Garden BritishPortmeirion dishes featuring different flowers with their common and scientific names.  

Everyday dishes of British Portmeirion stored in butler's pantry
The Pyrex (which turned 100 in 2015) and Fire King mid-century modern glassware that my estate-sale-going friend Rebecca passes on to me.

Miscellaneous glassware in butler's pantry
A Somayaki Japanese tea service Ricky brought home from Vietnam. The Somayaki pottery is unique because of its double wall construction, which keeps the hot liquids hot while the outer layer remains cool to the touch. Unfortunately, the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and subsequent nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear facility, resulted in the mandated abandonment of the village where Somayaki pottery was made. Local rocks that were responsible for the unique glaze are now contaminated. Some young artisans around Japan are trying to keep the tradition of Somayaki pottery alive with mixed results. 

Japanese Soma-yaki tea set
A set of heavy-duty Iron Mountain stoneware dishes, the Blue Ridge pattern, manufactured in East Tennessee from 1965-1992 not far from my Southwest Virginia hometown. I acquired mine in the early 1970’s, and many are from the “seconds store.” 
New Lenox Christmas china, now manufactured in capital “C” China, with green holly leaves and red berries on each piece. These were gifted to me over several Christmases from our friends in New Orleans whom we met as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Admittedly, Christmas dishes are a big weakness of mine.  
Christmas dishes displayed in butler's pantry
More Christmas dishes

 My favorite Christmas mugs
There are more treasures that I didn’t mention. I know owning all these dishes may seem excessive in this time of minimalism of belongings, but what can I say—I‘m a collector!

Luckily, we have sufficient storage for my dishes and china collection. We have a large formal china cabinet in the dining room passed down from Ricky’s grandparents 

Ricky's grandparents on their 50th wedding anniversary
A corner china cabinet in the dining room just for cut glass, a butler’s pantry hutch (now part of the kitchen) for storage of less formal dishes and serving pieces, plus another old china cabinet in the guest cottage. We also have regular kitchen cabinets where daily use dishes are stored.

Portmeirion tea set
The obvious question becomes why do I keep all these dishes? 

To me, their beauty and uniqueness are sufficient reasons for owning them. I also enjoy creating displays with the dishes. It’s both a form of play therapy and a creative outlet. I love the stories attached to each piece—sometimes a personal recollection of how I acquired the item; and sometimes it’s the story of the manufacture of the pieces and the history behind them. Many of the companies that created the china, glassware, and pottery are no longer in business because of the changes in cultural practices, the surfeit of cheap items from China, or misfortune befalling the manufacturer. 

I think the beauty and diversity in our world is diminished as these companies and their wares disappear.

P. S. I'm not the only person who loves vintage dishes. View Susan Branch's blog here to see and read about her collection of vintage dishes.