I have always had a love of the old and weird. Most of my fascination is questioning, making stories in my head about who had this, who loved this – was it a gift, necessity or a means of income, convenience or privilege?
Recently someone asked me what my all-time favorite antique is or has been. Without hesitation, it’s pottery! I love it all, from dishware to pinch pots. I’ve had pinch pots on my counter with sea salt & pepper for 38 years!
Pottery can tell the story of civilizations of prosperity and privilege, the primitive and ornate.
I’ve collected it since the early days of flea markets. I love a table set with mismatched plates, and I drink tea mostly because I’m enthralled with British culture, and the cups!
But the French! The simple, beautiful lines of primitive pitchers, hand-thrown bowls. You haven’t seen heaven until you’ve laid your eyes on a set of French ironstone! I have a set, and if the house were on fire, they would be amongst the survivors.
Things that were made with clear purpose and durability, working pottery … the stuff that poured water for the upper crust behind velvet curtains. Platters that held a prized Christmas goose, cakes that stood tall and regal on cake stands. Fine china has its place but give me an old piece of primitive pottery with hairline cracks and a worn glaze.
When I acquire new pieces, I wonder whose table this donned, whose family handed it down, who would remember this as a childhood fixture in their mother’s cupboard?
My mother taught me many things, and one of them was the love of old pottery – blue and white dishware, crocks, old serving pieces, pitchers so old and cracked with fine lines just like the faces of the people who once used them. As a collective these hardworking little gems are what live on to tell their story, recognizable by the functions they served. But wouldn’t it be delightful if they could tell us by whom!