I am having my house painted. Well, the inside.  And luckily my painter, a retired gentleman, is going one room at a time so I don’t have a whole crew in there creating chaos.   It’s looking nice but is still really a nuisance.   The upside of it all is that I’m getting to handle items that usually stay on the wall or in a cabinet.

Now my poor painter:  I have warned him that I am very, well shall we say anal, about my antiques.  They best not get broken, scratched or dripped on.  (He is loving me, by the way).    Since I needed to move a whole mess of china it seemed like an opportune time to photograph and blog about my blue and white china collection.


Blue and White China

This corner cabinet is one of my all-time favorite pieces.  I had always, always wanted an early one and when the market fell off I found this at an affordable price.  I already had an extensive collection of blue and white china so it worked out perfectly.


As you will see below these are all examples of transfer-ware.   The items are not painted.  They had their patterns applied by inked tissue pieces being used to transfer the pattern to the ceramic before firing.  Thus in some of the more utilitarian pieces there are smudges and points at which the border’s pattern overlaps.


These sturdy platters would have been common kitchenware and put directly into the oven for heating.


Note the crazing on the back from less than gentle use.


The oval dish on the right also shows signs of having been exposed to high heat.


I love the shape of this pitcher.


This trio of Flow Blue plates includes one in the Willow pattern.  Many of my pieces are of this popular pattern that is still produced today.   The romantic version of the story behind the Willow pattern per Wikipedia is:

 “Once there was a wealthy Mandarin who had a beautiful daughter. She had fallen in love with her father’s humble accounting assistant, angering her father (it was inappropriate for them to marry due to their difference in social class). He dismissed the young man and built a high fence around his house to keep the lovers apart. The Mandarin was planning for his daughter to marry a powerful Duke. The Duke arrived by boat to claim his bride, bearing a box of jewels as a gift. The wedding was to take place on the day the blossom fell from the willow tree.

On the eve of the daughter’s wedding to the Duke, the young accountant, disguised as a servant, slipped into the palace unnoticed. As the lovers escaped with the jewels, the alarm was raised. They ran over a bridge, chased by the Mandarin, whip in hand. They eventually escaped on the Duke’s ship to the safety of a secluded island, where they lived happily for years. But one day, the Duke learned of their refuge. Hungry for revenge, he sent soldiers, who captured the lovers and put them to death. The Gods, moved by their plight, transformed the lovers into a pair of doves (possibly a later addition to the tale, since the birds do not appear on the earliest willow pattern plates).”

Look and you will see elements of this story in the Willow pattern.

Here is a better look at one of the Flow Blue plates.   I just love Flow Blue – the depth of the color and the “flowing” look from the blurring.  This look comes from the applied ink being exposed to a chlorinated atmosphere in the kiln.


This piece with some red in it caught my eye.  I love turkey red in quilts and I just had to have this little “odd ball” plate.


This pretty piece, as are many, is thanks to my British mom who visits England often.  Her return always includes treats for the kids and a new piece for my collection.


And this piece is thanks to mom too.  It was the only blue and white china that she owned and since it looked so lonely at her house I convinced her it should come to mine.   Thanks mom!


Like the dragon platter above this Pagoda pattern is somewhat unusual.  It dates from the 1820’s and is a nice change from Willow but still fits in well.


These coffee cans are amongst my favorite pieces.  Yes, I said coffee cans!   These straight sided cups were used without saucers for coffee and sometimes cocoa.   The one on the left is most likely Miles Mason c. 1800-1816 and the one on the right c. 1790.


This Stilton dish held a large round of Stilton cheese.   I use it as a fruit dish but only for thick skinned fruits like bananas.  The lead used in old glazes can contaminate thinner skinned fruits.   Lead glazes are a concern in many antique and collectible plates and dishes.  So keep this in mind if you like to use yours too!

Blue has always been my favorite color and antiques are a real weakness of mine.  No wonder I’ve ended up with so many of these treasures.   In an attempt to get ready to sell and downsize my home I have been slowly selling off many items.  But, I can promise you, no matter how small the next home is there will always be room for my blue and white china!


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