Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dinnerware in The Shed

My husband provided me with built-in shelves all along the back wall plus a couple short ones on the side walls but we soon realized we'd need waaaaaay more storage space. He bought two freestanding units--this one holds MOST of my dinnerware collections. I say MOST. Note that the vast majority my collections either already belonged to me through inheritance/marriage or have been purchased one or two pieces at a time, mainly at thrift stores and flea markets. Every once in awhile, though, I go overboard.

The top shelf holds Jeannette "Floragold", which is one of my favorite glass patterns. I started collecting this when I found a pretty pair of salt & pepper shakers with silverplate tops at the flea market. I loved the design and the color so I paid the lady her $5 and took them home. When I finally located the pattern and maker (Google can be frustrating until you hit on just the right words) and saw how much this little set is worth ($80) I figured I'd gotten a pretty good deal. Unfortunately, the high value means that you must have the original white plastic tops; otherwise, they're worth about what I paid for them (and on further inspection I saw that the base on one was chipped. I bought these before I had trained myself to ALWAYS wear my glasses at flea markets & antique malls, as well as feel around all the rims and bases. Sometimes sellers "forget" to mark a damaged piece as is). To make a long story short, over the last year I've finally put together a perfect pair with perfectly uncracked tops, and I also own the covered sugar & creamer, the ruffled bowls, a large pitcher, a gorgeous round tray, and enough dinner plates, salad plates, serving bowls, soup bowls, cups & saucers and berry bowls to feed a good-sized crowd.

Next shelf down is my Mother's Blue Ridge Pottery "June Bouquet". Eight full place settings. Amazingly, I had NO IDEA she had this dinnerware until after she passed in January. I was reading some notes from her safety deposit box and one mentioned the Blue Ridge Pottery dinnerware stored in the back of a kitchen cupboard at her farm. She wanted it to be sold and the proceeds divided between her daughters. Will do.

I don't usually do this, but I bought this entire set of Pyrex "Pink Flamingo" dinnerware at an "estate sale"--one of those that advertises itself as such and then you get there and it's either in a doublewide or (as this one was) in the detached garage. Plus nobody had died, which I thought was sort of a prerequisite for an event advertised as an estate sale. I'm totally mad for Pyrex anyway and what could scream "mid-century" more than PINK FLAMINGO! Since I'm really more interested in stuff from the 50's-70's over earlier eras I decided to get it (plus it was a really really good price). They had additional pieces inside the doublewide (yup, a doublewide) so I was able to obtain several large bowls, pie plates and platters.

Below is my "Fire-King" shelf. I became entranced with the "Vienna Lace" pattern (white with platinum banding and lacy design) when I literally unearthed (as in, from the ground) a Vienna Lace platter while hunting around outside one of my fav antique stores, Bayou Moon in Mandeville, LA (shoutout to Mandy!!). Of course I didn't know exactly what it was but it had that beautiful Fire-King logo and no mention of it being microwave-proof. Then I found a dealer on eBay who had a couple place settings and serving pieces so I placed the order (again, a very good price, especially for eBay these days), but unfortunately some of the pieces arrived broken. This wonderful dealer replaced the pieces at no charge and SHE paid the shipping to get the replacements to me! I used to be able to buy this pattern at thrift stores but once THEY discovered eBay they're pricing anything that says Fire-King waaaaaay too high. One of my local thrifts actually has an "eBay Room" where they put anything they think might be remotely collectible. To make matters worse, they research the item on eBay, print out what it's selling for, and then charge the same price! Anyone familiar with eBay knows that the "Buy It Now" prices are usually rediculous. I'm not going to rant further about this because I've already done it but it just irritates the high heck out of me.
The other pieces are Fire-King "Swirl" in a lovely pastel pink (there's also one "Shell" plate in the same color). The tumblers in front are called "Chantilly" but I really love the pink pony tumblers. Anchor Hocking marketed a tumbler pattern called "Wrought Iron" with the pink "Swirl" but I prefer my tumbler patterns, plus I recently found a coffee pot with sugar & creamer in that lacy "Chantilly" pattern. I don't have a complete set of the pink "Swirl" (I call a complete set at least 6 place settings of dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl, berry bowl and cup & saucer) but I do have the covered sugar and creamer. I just found a set of four "Swirl" salad plates in Azur-ite (a very soft pale blue) and I'm thinking this might be my next attempted collection. The Azur-ite also looks heavenly with the pastel pink so I might do a little mixing and matching.

The bottom shelf holds several different patterns and includes several pieces of Bavarian porcelain. I'm not a big fan of Bavarian porcelain, pretty though it is (and I have quite a few pieces from my grandmother), but most of this was being sold for rediculously low prices, so what the heck. I AM a huge fan of the Royal China "Blue Heaven" dinnerware (front right) but many of the pieces I find are cracked and dulled from heavy usage. It's so retro, though! Behind the "Blue Heaven" is a single setting of Hazel Atlas "Moderntone" -- I think it's so cute and I also have the sugar & creamer. There are also a few pieces of crystal "Miss America".

I had been storing my mother's silverplate for years and one day in March 2007 after she'd moved in with us, I took her on a "field trip" to one of our local antique malls. We had a nice chat with the owner and hit on the great idea of renting a booth and selling the silverplate, as well as possibly selling her "Portia" crystal and Minton china. The silverplate, crystal and china were wedding gifts so they date back to the late 40's. We were due to move in on April 1 so we had a couple weeks to get ready for the move. My mother had horrible, debilitating arthritis in her hands but let me tell you, she sat at the kitchen table with me and rubbed the silverplate just as hard as she could. For you see, it was all severely tarnished from years of storage and we wanted it to look pretty for our soon-to-be customers!

And do you know that we did not sell a SINGLE piece of her silverplate?! I had spent countless hours researching all the makers and setting reasonable prices for all the coffee pots and pitchers and serving dishes and nut bowls and trays and creamers & sugars. They looked beautiful in our booth, Nettie's Parlor, shining and gleaming away. Then we find out that nobody wants silverplate and if they do they WANT it tarnished! I brought it all home and before it went in the shed I even offered it to my sisters, who were not interested. So I'm back to being The Keeper of Mom's Silverplate (and buying a few pieces now and then). It's getting pretty tarnished so perhaps I'll take it back down to the booth one of these days.

The silverplate is sitting next to my Pyrex collection. I'll share those beauties in my next post. I think I'm going to get out for a little while and hit a few thrift stores & flea markets.