Monday, 22 August 2011

Vintage China

Everyone in my life from friends, family to our milkman knows that I'm obsessed with all things vintage most notably crockery. My love of china knows no bounds, so much so that my husband has been known to compare me to one of those crazy people you see on programmes like a Life of Grime. You know the ones who can't open their front door because of the piles of old newspapers except in my case it would be piles of mismatched plates in duck egg  and petal pink with faded gold rims, cups so thin and tiny you can see light through the glaze and only get one pinky through the handle and teapots-ah teapots, one day I will discuss my love of teapots in detail but that's a whole new post. 
Cake stand anyone?
That everyone knows this about me means I quite frequently get given boxes of old crockery. The tip in West Kirby must have felt a marked absence of chinaware being dropped off over the last few years as the great and the good so often just leave it on my doorstep , sometimes even anonymously (true and slightly creepy please at least leave a post it- I was convinced the last box may hold a head in it until it revealed a tea pot)

Tea Cups-I have one or two

So when on a recent visit to my mother in laws she mentioned she had a box of crockery for me I wasn't particularly excited. More often than not other peoples junk really is just that and I end up taking 90% of the donations given to Betty Pamper Towers to the charity shop at the bottom of my road.The box was labelled "Little nans tea set" and it was with no great anticipation that I shoved it in the back of my car. 

Little Nan was my husbands paternal grandmother. I never met her as she died long before we met but from the small bits of information I had gleaned she sounded great. She had spent her early life in service  and after her husband (my husbands grandfather) was killed during the second world war she  became a cook at a local school as well as single handily bringing up my father in law and his sister. Always immaculate she apparently looked very much like Queen Elizabeth right down to the waved hair style and she was old school. She always made Christmas dinner and served her whole family first, only eating after they had finished and the pots were cleaned away.Habits from a life in service having never left her.
Little Nan was a bit of a Queenie lookalikey apparently
So although I knew Little Nan had been a real woman of her time a living embodiment of "We can do it" I didn't hold out much hope for the heavy cardboard box I was given. It had sat in my mother in laws loft for twenty years and despite what the Antiques Roadshow might suggest there is usually a reason for stuff remaining unclaimed. Often the stuff is old and cracked and worn and just not very nice.
Little nans tea set

So my expectations were low as I started to unwrap each piece (in 1950's Liverpool Echo) and isn't it nice to occasionally be surprised.

Immaculate as the day it was brought
Far from the tea stained, rim chipped rubbish I had anticipated I was amazed to find a totally unused immaculate dinner set. Dinky cups, matching saucers, soup bowls, gravy boats the whole nine yards and all of it looking as new as the day it was brought.It transpired this was actually Little nans wedding crockery. Bone white with a teal and gold rim and a delicate white flower its surprisingly substantial and the teapot is the best pouring teapot I have ever owned.
This was far from a tea set it contained a full set of every type of dinner and side plate, milk jug, teapot the works even a gravy boat. And having sat in the dark in a loft  for twenty years my family now use it every day. 
We love little nans tea set

Yes some of it is now  a bit tea stained and chipped but we love it and I refuse to be precious and leave it  waiting to fulfil its purpose. Would Little nan have approved? well the brews made with tea leaves in a warmed pot and my hair is set with Carmen rollers so I think maybe she would.

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