Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Grandma's Attic: Her Dinnerware Collection

Six months ago, my dad and I cataloged my late grandmother’s collection of dishes and cut glass pieces. We were pretty amazed at how much stuff that included, as most of this was never on display. Not surprising, I found that most of them were not my style. I love vintage but my taste is pretty specific and there was a lot here that I did not like. However, for our purposes of what to keep and what to donate, I tried to research the pieces I could identify from markings or specific details. It boggles the mind that my Grandmother had so many different sets of china, all styles, and an amazing large set of cut glass…everything! I’m going to post a few images and descriptions and at the end I’m going to show what made that whole afternoon of opening boxes, setting up groupings, and photographing it all worth it. Oh, so worth it!

Here’s the worst of the bunch, in my opinion the worst design I have ever seen on dinnerware and we are now in possession of a huge set of these:

Yes, your eyes are not lying, green and gold faux Victoriana plates from the Taylor Smith Taylor company. These were produced mid-century and manufactured in the U.S. The platters feature Victorian couples in the center surrounded with a deep forest green band with an intricate overlaid pattern in gold. Research shows this pattern has been known by collectors as Victorian Couple, George and Martha Washington, Quadrille, Romeo and Juliet, or Courting Couple. Each size plate, bowl, or cup shows a different scene. I think because of the green and gold colors that it resembles a holiday collection of some sorts. This. I do not like.

My grandmother has one standout set that is very popular and yet still very desirable. The pattern is popular in its own right and I have even seen it used on cell phone cases. The name is Blue Willow and you probably feel that you’ve seen it before, even if just at a thrift store. Like I said, it was very popular. This design or some kind of close variation was produced by many companies, such as Homer Laughlin (of Fiestaware fame), Spode, Royal Dalton, and Wedgewood. Our set was manufactured by Churchill, a British company and is marked so on the bottom of the pieces. However, when looking at the individual pieces I noticed some variation. Many had the inscribed Churchill mark on the bottom but the stamps would look different and the pieces themselves would have little discrepancies. This was not a one-time purchase, she probably accumulated these over time instead. If sold, it should be in groupings so that each set would have identical pieces.

This Ellesmere Furnival tureen is similarly colored but not related and unfortunately I have not been able to find any information more than the name marked on the base of the piece. Also note in the picture above that the two cups with the Blue Willow pattern have differently shaped handles, another example of their being multiple variations of that pattern in the collection.

Here are just a few of the unmarked cut glass pieces varying from butter dishes, compotes, salad dressing cruets to tiered dessert plates and hors d'oeuvre trays (not pictured).

Then there were these, the Whitney #5671 from Imperial China and manufactured in Japan. Again, not my type but I can appreciate its beauty. The white dishes with silver trim are surrounded with a leaf scroll design painted on a light gray band. We have a near complete set of I did a little research, I have much more to do, but I found out on one site that an 8 to 10 place setting, during a good market period, could bring in $700-900 depending on condition. So there is hope for our little venture.

Oh, and the items that made that entire day worth it? Feast your eyes on these!

A Blendo summer cocktail set!

Possibly from the West Virginia Glass Company, this frosted turquoise juice pitcher and eight-piece tumbler set, 2 each of bright aqua, coral, yellow, and sage green with gold rims. The company put out variations of these colorful sets where the saturated solid color at the base gradually fades as it rises into clear glass with a gold band marking the divide. Some were all one color sets, others were multicolor in brights and pastels. Check Etsy or eBay for "Blendo" and you will be amazed. Anyone who has seen my apartment (use the Home tag on this blog to see images) knows that these colors fit right in.  I adore this set. Though I have never 'had people over for summer cocktails', I will at least be prepared if the occasion ever does arrive.

I have a strong feeling that these were a gift to my grandmother because, come on, one look at the stuff above and then look at this...not the same style at all, right? Well, they are no longer packed away, though I would prefer that they were. My father put them through the dishwasher (No!*) and now has them on display in his home even though we agreed that they were mine to keep. I asked him to take care of them but I meant for them to stay protected in their bubble wrap. I hope to claim them in the future and display them when a place I live in is no longer considered a "hazardous place for delicate things to live".

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