Sunday, April 13, 2014

Vintage Dinnerware: an Obsession

Noritake pattern 1357

Noritake 1357 plate

I am a collector and one of the things I love to collect is vintage dinnerware/china.  It all started with my wonderful collector of a mother. Her most proud collection, as I was growing up, was her Lenox china collection, filled with decorative bowls,vases, and ashtrays. She would seem to freak out if I even looked at her collection, as if that was a bonafide way to break her precious china. I get it....she was protective over her Lenoxware. I guess with a small child in the house, you tend to be careful about breakage with expensive, fragile items that you love so much you never dare use. (Reminds me of my mom and her "good bathroom towels" that we couldn't use either, but that is a story for another day.)                                                                       

 Now I do believe I inherited my love for the finer things in life from my Mom, you know the petite lady who rivaled Audrey Hepburn in the style department....
However, I am not so much a China nazi, as she was with her china. It was because of this, that I swore when I got older and had real stuff of my own, I would make sure to use it!! Well, in the real world, you can't always find time after work on a week night to unpack the china and wine glasses for Taco Tuesday. But I try to find reasons to use the "good stuff", other than just holiday dinners. 

I have found that over the years, as in all of us, we find our tastes have changed. I also find myself asking "What do I do with all this china?!!" It turns out my mom's china (Romance by Diamond) which we ate off of during Thanksgiving or Sunday dinner, was something she picked out when she married my Dad.
Mom's China Pattern "Romance"
 Every once in a while, I would notice a china pattern with some green pattern on it. I cannot remember what exactly was on those plates,but they were kinda ugly that not one person looked at them when I tried to sell them at a yard sale. I later found out that the other incomplete set belonged to my Dad's mother and was passed down to my Mom. She also managed to have her mother's punch bowl, as well as her very own. Now when I was married, I picked out a modern,cool pattern that I thought was so me. The pattern was cream with a gold/black/ brown leopard print on the rim and over the leopard print was a gold  decorative pattern. It was modern,yet elegant. I loved it! My husband and I never ate off of them together as we never had an occasion to use them, as we lived with my parents. We were awaiting a place of our own, but that day never came. Eventually, I got to proudly eat off of my leopard plates sans husband. I loved displaying them in my china hutch, once I had a place of my own.( I tried to locate a picture online of them since they are packed away right now but couldn't find one.) However,after my Mom passed in 2007, I inherited her china, as well as my Grandmother's and both punch bowls. What to do? The china was not my cup of tea,(no pun intended) but I felt guilty getting rid of it and I felt like I wanted to have an heirloom from my Mother. I ended up using her set on Easter as it has an air of springtime. The ugly china with green things on it , met its demise in the garage as it was leftover (once again) from another yard sale and somehow the table ended up turning over and broken bits of china ended up all over the cement garage floor. 

It is amazing that I like dinnerware at all, considering I hated setting the table as a child! Now on holidays, that was a different story. I liked adding the centerpieces, vases of fresh flowers, or candles to the table. I liked placing the teacup on the saucer, folding  the linen napkins and the elegance of a linen tablecloth. Table linens are another obsession of mine!! Anyway, I wish I had a storage closet just for extra dinnerware, like one for each holiday. My Mom bought me a beautiful,festive Xmas dinnerware set from Tienshan, when I was married. My family used it every Christmas while I lived with them and I continued the tradition when I moved out. However, it wasn't convenient to use the past few Christmases, but I normally love to have it on display for the whole month of December. 

Deck the Halls (my Xmas set)

Since acquiring my leopard set of china, my tastes have changed a bit and my decorating has as well. I used gold accessories back then and now I have been leaning towards more silver accessories. I have a huge appreciation for vintage items...more than I ever did before. I particularly like mid-century modern sets with their starbursts  and use of the colors , aqua and pink. 
One of my faves Franciscan Starburst

I do not own any starburst patterns as of yet due to space restraints. I own various dinnerware and glassware to be used in the Autumn and at Thanksgiving time. I also stumbled across a terrific deal at a local antique store to add to my Deck the Hall Christmas set. For around $40, I  received several other dinner plates,teacups and saucers, not to mention a coffee/teapot,sugar bowl and creamer, serving platter,serving bowl and a gravy boat in the shape of a sled. Even though, I didn't really need the extra plates etc., the deal was too good to pass up. I figured over time, dishes break etc. so I might need the back ups. 

As I got more and more into vintage dishes, I had a difficult time deciding on just one pattern. To this day, I am still torn. But I started collecting a vintage set from Noritake. (1357) I love the pattern and the colors pink,black and gray. I have always wanted a pink kitchen, so my heart went out to this pattern. I have bought several pieces off of Ebay, but am a long way away from having a complete collection. 

There are just too many patterns to choose from!! It makes me wish I still had a house, instead of a puny apartment. (My house was destroyed by a fire a year ago and I was forced to sell the land and find a new place to live. The house has since been knocked down by the new owners. All that remains is my Dad's shed.) My china collection keeps expanding, but unfortunately, my closets do not. Before the fire, I had a set of "everyday" glasses and dishes that I adored. I tried to replace them on Ebay but the set I got was much smaller than the original and yet it was the same maker and pattern. And the glasses are rare to find, and are very expensive. The Novoctime set I had was black and octagonal. The glasses were also octagonal. I loved this set so much and was so heartbroken when I was without them. I was so excited when I ordered them off of Ebay,but quite disappointed when I unpacked them from the box I received in the mail. They looked the same but were somehow much smaller. The soup/cereal bowls are the perfect size for dip. I could try finding another set but I decided to mix and match this set with another I found that I fell in love with at Target.

my beloved Novoctime

Damask set from Target