A Passion for Porcelain : Lofty Thoughts

A Passion for Porcelain

by Loft Proprietress on 08/13/11


So THIS is what happens to little innocent girls who grow up in jewelry stores. Jewelry stores which also carry fine china, crystal, and sterling silver.

Diamonds and gold aside, I had no CLUE when I was younger, that my childhood surrounded by Daddy's and Mother's jewelry store, HUGHES JEWELRY of Frederick, OK (lots of history and vintage/historic Frederick pictures on the HISTORY page at http://www.hughesjewelrysince1952.com/)  -- would turn me into a dishes *freak*.  Note, 'dishes' being the umbrella term for china, crystal, sterling, etc...

But...that's exactly what I have become.  Somehow, watching brides come in the store to shop for and register their fine china, crystal, and sterling silver patterns...wormed it's way into this girl's heart.  Flipped the switch to "ON" in that inner collector in me, at a young age.  Turned me into Medusa, the 9-headed fine dinnerware monster (holding a different maker and pattern with each head!)  The fact that I am not alone, that several if not most of my friends also suffer from this affliction...is little comfort.

It goes right along with being a lover of historic architecture, which, if you grew up in the hometown of LITTLE LOFT - Frederick, OK - we were surrounded with. Beautiful turn-of-the-last-century buildings, brick streets, and wonderful people.  

I learned to love *real* wood (not veneer), solid hardwood doors (not hollow-core), genuine brick and stone walls (not the fake stuff), real paintings and art (not prints), custom homes (not cardboard-and-staple cookie cutters), anything vintage, custom, and real -- I approve. In terms of buildings and architecture, it may be dirty, it may need work, but if it was made or built 60 or more years ago, you can bet it was made with quality, and hopefully, if it's been cared for at all, still has that quality.

Back to the porcelain passion...I can no longer remember all of the different patterns I have...and am running out of room to store them all!  It's a sad (Paul might describe it that way, which is code for 'great' in Paula world) state of affairs.

I remember Lenox, Noritake, Haviland, Syracuse china.   I remember Fostoria, Lenox, Noritake crystal, and the store probably carried more makers whose names I just don't recall.  There was Wallace, Towle, Lunt, Reed and Barton sterling, to name a few.  And 'the Store' as we always called it, carried the Metlox pottery - the craze of the 70s - my Sculptured Daisy was Metlox, and  I remember Charlotte Marcom McPherson had Sculptured Daisy too.  My friend Kathy in Denton has Sculptured Grape.  I did get over my love for the Sculptured Daisy, and no longer use or collect it.

WHICH is lucky for me, since I collect almost every *other* pattern under the sun now. : /  Because of the internet, and sites like eBay, replacement-style china sites, and more... I (and you) can find ANYthing your little heart desires or discovers.

Years ago, I began collecting antique English, German, and French porcelain patterns, as well as several other heavy gold Lenox patterns which I had always admired in Daddy's store, and in which I now have complete services.  I do believe I could seat the town of Frederick at a sit-down dinner, and have dishes to spare.  How 'sad'. (great).

But it doesn't stop there.  I have sterling silver sewing items, as well as beautiful sterling manicure and grooming items.  The antique Kirk, Steiff, Watson, Alvin, and other wonderfully ornate old Victorian sterling makers of the late 1800s and early 1900s have *stolen* my heart, when it comes to silver. 

A little sampling of some of the hoard / addiction / illness:

The above is an English pattern by Royal Chelsea.  I so love the turquoise enameling! And of course...the gold. Duh.

And another:

These gold-encrusted vintage Pickard charger plates have the most elaborate, elegant pattern...perfect as chargers/service plates...they could be dinners, but I don't want to damage the gold with knives and forks!

And then:

These English salad plates, made by one of my favorite old makers, Coalport, look fabulous on gold-rimmed dinner plates.  The ornateness and swirls of the gold border is what I particularly love.


 I have dinner plates and salad plates in this lovely old embossed pattern by German maker Black Knight, which was a fine quality manufacturer...the ornately embossed border around the edge of these ivory plates is raised, just exquisite.

One of my all-time favorites for simplicity and elegance:

This is, of course, Lenox WESTCHESTER.   I remember as I was registering for patterns at my parents' store, this was the one I wanted. However, Mother didn't think it appropriate for me to register for a higher-end pattern when my parents owned the store from which friends and family would likely give the gift.  So I chose Lenox Eternal, with the simple gold band.  I later added this Westchester pattern and have a service for 12. (Oh, and this pattern looks FABulous with the above Pickard gold chargers/dinners...)

And below, I think I have mentioned this one before, it's a 'new' (newly acquired by me, not a new pattern) favorite, as I adore birds:

This is the England maker Royal Crown Derby pattern "Old Avesbury" - and how I love it.

And STERLING items, other than flatware for the table:

Here's a favorite:

This is an old sterling initial stamp/embosser for letter-writing, etc.  Love it.

Then this - though I don't know how ladies used it, can anyone tell me?

It's called a 'darning ball'.  Did they use it to hold on the other side of the fabric, as a firm surface for the needle to touch, when mending?  I don't know...just love the handle and the unusualness of having one today.

I love this one, too:

 It's either a crumb brush, to remove crumbs from the table, or a clothing lint brush. Either way, the handle and the base that holds the bristles, are gorgeous and ornate.

Here is a new treasure:  I commissioned a wonderful artist to paint an oil painting of several of my favorite  antique and other ornate sterling spoons, some of which I bought to sell, and no longer own.  Others I do own, and I asked her to paint the monogram "C" on one of my favorite antique patterns.  Here are two excerpts from that painting:

and another section of that same painting includes the front and back of a set of sterling demitasse I bought to 'flip' -- almost kept them, but decided to turn the profit. Here is that section:

(the two images at left are the front of the handle of a set of antique Victorian demitasse spoons, and the lattice-work *etched* back side of the spoon's bowl, which had a gold-wash on the inside.  The handle was also engraved "Father" on the back -- an amazing antique set.)

So...there you have it.  A small example of the terribly sad (code: absolutely great) thing that happens to little girls who grow up in jewelry stores around sterling, china, and crystal.  They become addicted to shiny things. 

I've thrown in the towel, and I admit it, I'm hooked. 

Is there a 12-step program for this?


Comments (4)

1. Liz Banker Dailey said on 8/14/11 - 01:23PM
If there is a 12 Step Program, I don't want to know about it! I am as hooked as you on the China and Silver. It is a magnificent obsession!!!
2. Paula said on 8/15/11 - 07:44PM
Oh Liz...how right you are! I don't know what happened to me...about 10 years ago, a switch in my brain flipped and I have been *nuts* about china patterns, crystal, silver...etc...since then! I have way too much! Thanks for checking the blog, keep coming back.
3. Gina Heim said on 9/8/11 - 07:47PM
Paula, I have only seen a darning ball used once, and it was not as lovely as the one you have! When darning a sock, you placed it over the ball in order, I suppose to mimic the stretch that would naturally occur over the foot. By using the ball, your end result would be a more comfortable, attractive, and functional mend to your sock.
4. Liz Banker Dailey said on 1/3/12 - 02:35PM
The loft is looking lovely!!! I love following your blog and I believe your work with your Mom and Dad is amazing!!!

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