Old New England Gravestone Art

new england cemetery

Cemeteries are meant to be visited. Some early cemeteries have been designed by early landscape architects to be a pleasurable environment replete with specimen trees, rambling paths wide enough for two to stroll arm in arm and that visitors may spend time away in a peaceful setting. Here in Central and nearby Western Massachusetts are many beautiful and historic burying grounds ready for an autumnal daylight visit. Although Halloween yard decorations show faux tombstones with skeletons to add to the fright of the Halloween night,the designs that were carved into the original tombstones by talented stone carvers show prevailing attitudes of the day and invite contemplation on the viewer’s part about their own mortality. Recently we visited the Old Deerfield Burying ground and the Princeton Burying Ground and saw many of the styles of early New England’s carvers’ artwork and want to share them with you.

Image captured by Lisa & Charlie Hammell of Noonmark Antiques for their blog.

The above stone is sometimes called a death’s head or a winged skull. Nothing speaks of the finality of death better than a skull or bones. The early New Englanders of Puritan descent often used this design in the 17th century. It was not considered a religious depiction. This stone is from the Old Burying Ground in Deerfield Massachusetts.

Image by Paul Dumanoski

The next type of stone depicts a soul effigy and may even seem to be a portrait of the deceased in the hands of a skilled carver. There are many varieties of these which range from quite elaborate winged cherubs to abstractions. These were more prevalent in the 18th century. This stone is from the Princeton Massachusetts Burying Ground and is of a woman with a very serious look on her face and a valiant attempt by the stone carver to create her hair style.

 

Image by Paul Dumanoski

With the advent of the 19th Century came the neoclassical period in which all things Grecian or Roman were popular. This is called an urn and willow design and the stone shown is located in the Princeton Burying Ground. The willow is an ancient mourning symbol. School girl artwork and needlework pieces of this time showcase the urn and willow and often a weeping female in Grecian style robes as mourning pieces for the family.

What I recently learned is that although there is a general shift from one style to the next, scholars believe that these stones don’t necessarily historically correlate with changing religious beliefs or philosophies. I also want to point out that carvers worked on stones and developed a recognizable style to the trained eye. Some stones are even “signed” by their carvers. These signatures were done near ground level and with the sinking of stones in the soil over hundreds of years, the signatures can no longer be discerned.

Image taken by Lisa & Charlie Hammell of Noonmark Antiques

This last image is my most beloved stone from the Old Deerfield Burying Grounds. It is a beautiful modernistic (though 18th century) carving of a mother and her baby in the coffin which seems as though it is already in the ground from the perspective. Imagine the heartbreaking moment that must have been.

These stones want you to know about the people who are buried and to perhaps remember they were young or lived to a ripe old age or served in the Revolutionary War or helped to build a young America with their trades and children and hopes for the future. So please go visit and spend a few hours and let their stones whisper their stories to you.

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Lucky 13 superstitions for Friday the 13th

friday the 13th

It’s Friday the 13th. Remain calm. Everything will be fine. Probably. All superstitions aside. Because really, what are superstitions? That’s a folk thing, right?

To get to the heart of the matter, we went to Merriam-Webster, the arbiter of all things that need defining.

Superstition

noun  su·per·sti·tion \ ˌsü-pər-ˈsti-shən \

Definition of superstition

1a :a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation

b :an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstition

:a notion maintained despite evidence to the contrary
Even those who aren’t superstitious are usually extra careful on Friday the 13th. So in the interest of keeping everyone on the right side of bad luck and misfortunate magic, here are some common superstitions, and why you might want to avoid them. 
 
 superstition ladder
 
Don’t walk under a ladder. Anyone who as ever watched the Three Stooges can pick out two reasons why walking under a ladder is a bad idea. First, because something big and painful will likely fall on your head. Second, because you will knock it over and leave someone dangling from a chandelier.
 
superstition rabbit foot
 
Carry a rabbit’s foot for luck. Having something lucky to warn off unlucky events is good. But maybe choose a four leaf clover or a lucky penny. It’s hard to argue that carrying a rabbit’s foot was lucky for the rabbit.
 
superstition umbrella
 
Don’t open an umbrella inside. Adults are not all that likely to do this. But it’s a good idea to instill this superstition in children. It’s a well known fact that children are dangerous with umbrellas in wide open spaces, let alone in enclosed spaces.
 
superstition mirror
 
If you break a mirror you will have seven years bad luck. Mirrors are inanimate objects and cannot inflict seven years of bad luck on you. Especially after you’ve swept them up and put them in the dustbin. But if you break someone else’s mirror, they can definitely see to it that you have seven years of misery, particularly if they are the vindictive sort.
 
superstition bed
 
Don’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Apparently, luck protocol calls for you to get out of bed from the same side you got in. This makes sense. If you wind up on the wrong side of the bed during the night, you will be using the wrong pillow and will probably wake up with a cramp in your neck.
 
superstition 3
 
Bad luck comes in threes. Subscribing to this belief may make you feel better when you’ve had a couple bad turns of the dice, but really, we all know that while bad luck can come in threes, that is not guaranteed. Bad luck can com in fours. Or fives. Or twenties. Bad luck laughs at your silly rules about threes.
 
superstition crack
 
Don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mother’s back. Another hard to believe superstition. Stepping on a crack doesn’t break your mother’s back. But not calling her once a week can break her heart. You know, “you never call, you never write.”
 
superstition bird
 
A bird in the house is a sign of death. Anything is possible, but that seems a bit overdramatic. A bird is the house is more likely a sign of an open door or window.
 
superstition crossed fingers
 
Crossing your fingers wards off bad luck and brings good luck. Yes…and? No dispute here, this one is always true. Bonus: it also keeps you from being struck by lightning when you tell an untruth.
 
superstition owl
 
Owls are bad omens. This might be true if you are a tiny mouse that lives in the woods near a hungry owl. But for most of us it’s silly, because everyone knows owls are awesome. Period.
 
superstition penny
 
Find a penny, pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck. A penny won’t buy much anymore but if you are lucky enough to notice one lying on the ground, you’re a very observant person and you’re present in the moment. So chances are pretty darned good that you’re the kind of person who doesn’t count on luck but makes their own magic happen.
 
superstition ax
 
Carrying an ax through the house will bring bad luck. This one speaks for itself.
 
superstition scooby doo
 
Never say “let’s split up gang” when you’re searching an abandoned amusement park for a mysterious bad guy.  Again, no explanation necessary. 
 
superstitions
 
Now get out there, have fun and stay safe on this Friday the 13th. 
 
 

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Flashback To Fun Fads From the 70s

Let’s flashback to some fun fads from the 1970s. How many do you remember?

Wham-O SuperBall

Did you ever play with a SuperBall when you were a kid? Weren’t they the coolest thing ever?! I remember playing “Annie Annie Over” with the neighbor kids – throwing that SuperBall over the roof of my parents house to the kids on the other side and back. Ah…. the good old days.

It’s a good thing that Norman Stingley was conducting experiments with highly resilient synthetic rubber back in the early 1960s, because he accidentally produced an astonishing new toy – the SuperBall! When compressed under extreme pressure, the substance would bounce like crazy. The compound was called Zectron. More than 6 million of these bouncing balls had been sold by 1965! 

 

Pet Rock

What a clever idea that was! I remember having fun showing my friends how my Pet Rock could roll over and come to me when called {~smile~}.

Did you know that the Pet Rock was created in 1975 by advertising executive Gary Dahl. He marketed the rocks as “live pets” that came in a cardboard box with straw and breathing holes. The Pet Rocks came with a manual that taught you how to play with your Pet Rock. Unfortunately, the fad only lasted about six months and were eventually discontinued shortly after that. In that short timespan, Gary Dahl became a millionaire – he sold 1.5 million Pet Rocks for $4 each. Not bad for a clever idea! 

 

Mood Ring

Remember the Mood Rings from the 1970s? I was so excited when I received one from my parents for a birthday. I thought it was really cool to see how much you could make that ring change color. I still have that ring, can you believe it?!

In 1975, two New York inventors (Josh Reynolds and Maris Ambats) created the Mood Ring that became in instant fad. The ring contains a thermochromic element, such as liquid crystal, that changes colors based upon the temperature of the finger of the wearer. The rings came with a color chart to show you what “mood” you were in. Hmmm….. I might have to go dig that ring out of my jewelry box and start wearing it again…. Did you ever have a Mood Ring?

 

Sea Monkeys

I remember the first ad I saw for Sea Monkey’s – I was mesmerized by that ad! Little creatures that came to life, and played in a tank that you could watch? That sounded so cool! One year for my birthday, my parents bought me a Sea Monkey kit. I was SO excited! While I was slightly disappointed that the creatures really didn’t look like they did in the ad, I did really enjoy watching those creatures, and have since had several kits to share with my own kids.

Did you know that in 1957, it was Harold von Braunhut who discovered these true freaks of nature, and he also recognized their potential to become one of the greatest marketing opportunities in history. These creatures, known as Artemia NYOS, a relative to the brine shrimp, would appear dead out of water, and once introduced back into water they would mysteriously come back to life, without any suffered ill effects. He began to sell these creatures through mail order in the early 1960’s. They were packaged in a box labeled “Instant Life” and they were sold for $.49 through comic book advertisements. The fad kept growing – and now 60 years later – his freaks of nature are still charming kids everywhere.

 

Lava Lamps

Ah…. Lava Lamps. Back in 1963, Edward Craven Walker invented the first Lava Lamp. It had a special colored wax glob inside the glass shape that was surround with clear liquid. When you turned on the lamp in the base, the lamp heated up the wax and changed the density and viscosity of the wax. This warming caused the wax to rise through the surrounding liquid. When it cooled, it lost its buoyancy, and fell back to the bottom of the glass shape and the cycle repeated. The wax looked like pāhoehoe lava – which is how the lamp got it’s name.

I remember the Lava Lamp we had when I was a kid. I thought that lamp was SO COOL! It seemed that Mom always had that lamp on, and it was mesmerizing to watch. When I was first married, one of the first things I did was buy my own Lava Lamp – and I too always had that on. We STILL have a Lava Lamp in our house, and now our kids enjoy it! Do you have a lava lamp in your home?

 

Banana Seats and Sissy Bars

Do you remember banana seats and sissy bars from the 1960s and 1970s? I still remember my first Schwin Stingray bike. It was pink with a pink banana seat and a sissy bar. I used to give rides to my friends on the ape-hanger handlebars – they would sit in the middle of the handlebars while I peddled. I loved doing wheelies with that bike and going over jumps. Forever the daredevil!

Schwinn introduced the Sting-Ray in 1963 – modeled after a motorcycle. Sales were initially slow, but eventually took off. By 1965, several other American and foreign manufacturers were offering their own version of the Sting-Ray. Did you ever ride a Sting-Ray?

 

Smiley Face Pins

In 1963, H.R. Ball was working for an ad agency in Massachusetts when one of his clients asked him to come up with a way to soothe employees. He created the Smiley Face drawing, and was paid $45 for it. Unfortunately, he never trademarked the Smiley Face. This iconic drawing has been imprinted on more than fifty million buttons and is familiar around the world. This Smiley Face was even included on a United States postage stamp. Do you have a Smiley Face button from the 1960s in your collection?

 

What are some of your favorite fads from the 70s? Share in a comment below!

Collecting and dating Snow Babies made in Germany and Japan

snow babies
December 1912 Ladies’ Home Journal illustration of Christmas Table Decorations featuring German Snow Babies at play.

Bisque ceramic Snow Babies will melt your heart!

Perhaps you are wondering why I would want to give you tips about finding and collecting a Christmas item in the late summer. It is wiser to collect and search for snow babies anytime but the yuletide. My last score was on a very hot day in May at an estate sale when nobody else was thinking Christmas. Aging collectors are downsizing their beloved possessions in order to move to a smaller home and to be fully in charge of passing them on to another collector. So go to estate sales and living estate sales and even flea markets and keep your eyes open for these little darlings.

 

This jointed doll was made before WWI and has a finely modeled face and and painted features. Note that it is all white but for the face.

I believe the ceramic bisque snow babies were preceded by an edible confection called Zuckerpuppen or sugar dolls, which were made as far back as the early 19th century to adorn cakes, the christmas tree and even as holiday decor. A confectioner commissioned Hertwig and company to create an inedible and enduring version in ceramic around  the late 1800s. There is some speculation of who created and when these first ceramic figures came into being. The first snow babies were larger figures with the most amazing painted and modeled faces complete with dimples. Their eyebrows were brown and the eyes have extra finely detailed features. Even the nostrils had little red dots. Shoes were black, brown or no color at all, if color is used it was generally pastel and the poses were inactive. If there was a ski pole as part of the figure, it would be only one which would look large and heavy. These first snow babies were featured in the 1911 December Issue of The Ladies’ Home Journal in the USA. They may or may not have a Germany stamp on them. The start of WWI brought this first version of snow babies to an end.

This between-the-wars snow baby in a bright red sled pulled by two dogs was also made in Germany.

 

The second generation of snow babies were produced in Germany between the Great Wars. These items were smaller and in more active poses. Bright colors of red, blue and yellow were used on these on shoes and even props. The eyes are little more than black dots and they were more roughly painted. They were often cold painted which means touching or cleaning their faces can remove some of the paint. With the onset of WWII the production of this group of snow babies ceased.

After WWII you can find made in Japan snow babies. These were stamped with Japan on their base and may have been inspired by earlier German figures.

 

Newer Snow Babies from Department 56 are being collected and enjoyed by a younger crowd. From Fishbone Collectibles on etsy.

In 1987 Department 56 put out their line of Snow Babies which are delightful, larger, more active and even year round collectibles. These can be bought new or used at flea markets and yard sales if you are lucky.

There are books that you can purchase or borrow through your library to learn more about the antique snow babies. I have the Snow Babies book by Mary Morrison. Like almost any thing that is collectible in vintage and antiques, it pays to do some reading and research to increase your knowledge.

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Good jeans: denim gets the job done

denim blue jeans

Most of us have a favorite pair of denim jeans. Comfy and casual, jeans are a staple in most people’s wardrobe. It’s common to see people wearing jeans almost anywhere now from the office to the club, out on a date to doing yardwork.  

But jeans were not always fashionable. Jeans used to be work wear. Worn by men who labored for a living and needed pants that would hold up under heavy stress and not come apart. While some jeans are still made as work apparel, they are more often a fashion statement with a pair of designer jeans costing upwards of $100.00 or more.

denim blue jeans
A classic pair of well worn jeans can make an outfit just as a poor fitting pair can ruin one.

While the story of Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis who created the first pair of patented riveted denim jeans in 1873 is a part of history, there’s more to it than that. The success of those first riveted work pants lead the company to continue to innovate to this day. Many companies were quick to follow in Levi’s footsteps.

But Mr. Strauss and Mr. Davis tapped into something much bigger than just work wear.  They created a new fashion that would far outlive them and their wildest dreams. Denim jeans as we know them didn’t become a popular fashion item until the Hollywood bad boys like James Dean and Marlon Brando started wearing them both onscreen and off.  America was taken by storm and the rest of the world was not far behind.

Jeans are now the most popular pants throughout the world.  It’s said the average American owns 7 pair of jeans. They run the gamut in style, fit, fabric weight, and price. A well worn pair of vintage jeans is a coveted item and can sell for thousands of dollars. So next time you are out garage saling, wandering the flea or thrifting, check out that rack or pile of denim and see what treasures you can find.

denim blue jeans

Denim Jeans Day fundraising

First came Casual Friday. Then someone had a lightbulb moment: could the power of casual be harnessed to go good?  The concept is simple, if you want to wear your jeans to work on a declared “Jeans Day,” you gotta ante up $5 for a non-profit. Fundraising doesn’t get much easier or more comfortable. The beauty of an idea that’s this uncomplicated is it can be done on both a national or local level. So…who can you help with your favorite blues?

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Vintage FYI: vaseline or uranium glass

Vaseline glass or uranium glass is commonly seen vintage glassware that comes in many decorative shapes and colors. It is a favorite with collectors because glows when exposed to ultraviolet light. It earned it’s name from its yellow or green oily look similar to petroleum jelly and because it’s made with uranium oxide. Production began in the 1840s and continued for about 100 years before being heavily regulated by the U.S. Government in 1943. In 1958, the use of uranium was deregulated and production began again.

Vaseline glass has carried with it a stigma regarding the amount of radiation it emanates. Similar to the “Radioactive Red” Fiesta ware, radiation levels have been proven to be relatively harmless in comparison to average daily exposure.

Over the course of its many years in production there have been myriad manufacturers of vaseline glass leading to a wide variety of colors, styles, and price ranges.  With the extensive amount still available it’s easy to start a collection or add to one.

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14 words vintage sellers love to know

definition of vintage

One of the challenges of being an online vintage seller is finding the right words to describe your items. Some of those words are so cool they make us feel smart just knowing them. Some are the kind of words that are fun to say. We’re not ones to be stingy with information, so here’s a short and entirely random list of words we’ve used recently to describe vintage items.

Ambrotype

A photographic process that was popular in the mid to late 1800s. Ambrotypes are glass negatives that were made positive by coating the back side with black lacquer.

 

 

Colophon

Back in the 15th and 16th centuries, books often had a page at the very back of the book that listed the details about the book – who the author was, when it was published, and sometimes included advertising. “Colophon” is a Greek word that means “finishing touch” – an appropriate word for this special page.

 

Lenticular printedJiminy Cricket mug

A printing process that gives 2D images the illusion of depth or movement. Jiminy Cricket’s eyes are lenticular, they seem to blink as you look at them. 

 

 

Millefiori

Millefiori is the Italian word for “a thousand flowers” and is a glass-making technique. Multi-colored glass pieces are fused together, then cut crosswise and embedding in a clear molten glass that creates the floral-like pattern.

 

 

Reticulatedreticulated compote

On pottery, a pierced work pattern that forms a mesh or a net. Reticulated borders can be found on rare fine antique ceramics and on novelty travel souvenir plates from more recent times.

 

 

Rigareeglass rigaree

A decorative applied band of glass, usually frilled and crimped. It’s a bit like a cake decorator applied it as frosting.

 

 

Trompe-l’oeil

Trompe-l’oeil is a French word that means “fool the eye”. Trompe-l’oeil items are usually painted very precisely to make things look real. These painted items are meant to deceive the viewer.

 

Ephemera

Things that exist or are used for a short period of time. In the vintage world, it applies to paper items such as souvenirs, pamphlets and posters, that were typically discarded but have since become collectible.

 

 

Goofus Glass 

Pressed glass that was decorated with bright unfired paint in the early 1900’s . Because it was mass produced by American glass companies and relatively inexpensive, it was often given as prizes at carnivals or as a gift with purchase at the local gas station or furniture store.

 

Parure

Parure refers to a set of matching jewelry meant to be worn together.  Such as a necklace, brooch, bracelet, and earrings, considered as a “full parure”. A semi, or demi parure would consist of just two or three matching items such as earrings and a necklace, or a brooch and bracelet set. The word parure is derived from an old French word meaning to adorn or to embellish oneself.

 

Firkinwooden firkins

Also known as a sugar bucket, a firkin is a small wooden lidded barrel with a u-shaped wood handle secured with wood pegs and bands.  A firkin could also have been referred to as a quarter of a barrel of ale or beer.  

 

Aurora Borealis 

No, not the northern lights but the finish that was first applied to crystal rhinestones back in the 1950’s. Also referred to as AB it is not a color itself per se but rather an enhancement or brilliance which also produces color changes as the light (or lack of) reflects on the crystals.

 

 

Amberina 

The term Amberina refers to a type of glass with gradient color most usually ranging from red at the top to amber at the bottom. Both, or either, of those colors may be deep vibrant colors or very light that is may appear pink with a light yellow base.

 

Brocade

Anyone who grew up in the 1950’s or 1960’s should remember brocade.  It was the fabric of choice for the ultimate party dress back then.  Brocade is usually a silk fabric with silver or gold threads woven through it.    Brocade fabric dates all the way back to Byzantine times and was one of the few luxury items. Now brocade fabric is most often used for drapery or upholstery.

 

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Pop Culture Stamps

I think Elvis was the first stamp I fell in love with and it seems I am in good company because this stamp, issued in 1993, is the most popular stamp of all time according to the Smithsonian’s Postal Museum. 

elvis presley stamp
Elvis stamp issued in 1993

Typically stamps feature historical figures and cultural sites, but in keeping up with the times and to boost stamp sales, they can also feature pop celebrities and fictional characters. This is the fun stuff. The USPS hopes these fun stamps will entice the younger generation into stamp collecting. Some notable pop culture stamps included rock and roll legends, superheroes, cartoon characters, Disney, vintage cars and trucks, Harry Potter, Starwars just to name a few.  

disney villain stamps

Have you ever wondered who decides what goes on the stamps we use to mail that birthday card to your favorite aunt? Well, it just so happens there’s a committee for that and they take their work very seriously.  The Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee consists of 12-members appointed by the postmaster general that evaluates future stamp issues based on public submissions. In the past, no person could be commemorated with a stamp until at least 10 years after their death. At some point, it was reduced to 5 years and eventually, the rule was done away with. U.S. presidents are featured on a stamp on the first birthday following their death.

This was just a brief glimpse into the world of stamps. Visit Stamps.org to learn more about stamps and collecting. Share with us in the comments below if you are a collector or just a stamp fan–what is your favorite stamp?

 

 

 

Collecting antique pictorial souvenir china or view china

souvenir view china
An assortment of shapes, views and themes that one can collect.

Our historical society has a permanent display of view china with old black and white transfer images of our  small town including churches, natural scenes, and our common and I admire and peruse the collection whenever I can. A few years ago, I came across view china in an antique store and noticed that the plate had a great image of a Connecticut scene and we were in Vermont. I thought this isn’t right for it to be so far from its origin. That moment began my crusade to get these beautiful and historic items back where they belong.

Most people don’t realize that view china is quite old because they might link it to kitschy 1950s souvenir dishes. The earlier transfer view china is much older, mostly made in Germany from 1890 to before WWI. Another bonus I enjoy about view china is the story of the merchant that purchased and sold the piece. Some have their name and the name of their shop imprinted on the base of these dishes and so it gives even more depth to the snapshot of a town in an earlier time. As people got more leisure time they were able to take trains (perhaps even a day trip) to various locations and bring back a piece of view china as a memento of the day. This benefitted both the shopkeeper and the tourist. Most view china was not used, although I have seen some used in very interesting ways!

There are two ideas about collecting view china. One is collecting on a theme such as steamships, bridges, beaches, lighthouses, Civil War battle sites, or towns. The other type of collection focuses on the shape of this porcelain such as tea cups and saucers, pin trays, shoes, smoking dishes or pitchers.

A hand colored and stenciled pin tray of Devil’s Den in Gettysburg Pennsylania

I think that as collections of view china are being downsized or split up from estates it is a fresh opportunity for you to begin a collection or try to get them back to historical societies in the areas they picture. If you are interested in more on view china I suggest you get one of the books available, mostly on the used book market.

 

The back stamp on this pin tray shows a post 1891 Made in Germany stamp
An example of a folded corner dish and sugar bowl featuring Minot’s Light, a lighthouse in Cohasset Massachusetts.
The back stamp shows the name of the shopkeeper who ordered these Minot’s Light pieces. If you were related to Joseph, you could hold something that he must have held at one time!

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English teacups: a collecting love letter

teacup

teacup

Decorative teacups, most of which came from England, were at the peak of their popularity as collectables in the 1950s and 1950s. It’s the things that made them popular then that are making them popular again:  their shapely shapes, pretty decorations, swirling curling handles and saucy saucers. Of course vintage teacups are ready to serve up your tea, but they are also dandy for off label uses like organizing things on your dresser, providing a safe home for your air plant, storing your pennies, catching your keys and a thousand other uses yet to be imagined.

Anyone who spends more than 35 seconds on Pinterest can tell you that teacups are a popular party favor. Even your least pinkies-up-plus-pearls kind of guest is going to have to work mighty hard not to be happy with their new bone china friend.

Teacups are proof that strong is beautiful. Made of bone china or porcelain, they’re made to last. Bone china is a soft-paste porcelain made with clay, kaolin and bone ash. It’s the sturdiest of the porcelains. Regular porcelain is a clay made with kaolin and other additives depending on where it’s being made.

Most English teacups can be used for actually drinking tea. Once formed and decorated, the painted or stamped design is covered with a clear glaze, making it safe for food use. But there are exceptions. Those that have a mesh of cracks in the clear glaze, known as crazing, are no longer food safe. And it’s probably not a good idea to use Rose Medallion, a popular export ware from the 1920s on, or Japanese novelty lusterware, for example, because those usually do not have a clear coat food-safe glaze.

There are many, many makers of teacups from England, ranging in quality from exquisitely delicate to fancied-up utilitarian. In general, 0n the higher end of the price spectrum are cups made by Shelley, Paragon, Aynsley, Coalport. In the middle are Royal Albert, Royal Standard, Rosina and a multitude of others makers. Like anything that was a trend at some point, there are makers galore and prices are all over the place from several hundred dollars to a few single dollars. Tea cup prices are determined by the same things as all vintage: scarcity, desirability and condition. If you’re favor shopping, you can often find teacup lots online at good prices. And it’s okay to politely ask a seller if they will offer you a bundle price. 

As with most things we humans collect, there is some teacup lingo you’ll find in listings. We’re arranged a few of the more common ones here, arranged alphabetically for your convenience.

Backstamps are the maker’s marks printed on the bottom of many cups and saucers. They are often accompanied by a handpainted style number or maker’s mark.

The bowl is the big round part that holds the tea, it can be flat, conical, flared or a more decorative shape.

Chintz is a tiny overall floral pattern.

Coffee cans are not teacups, but they do come with saucers. They are small straight sided cups usually used for espresso.

Corset waist teacups have a generously sized top and very nipped in bottom.

Demitasse cups are smaller than teacups and are generally used for espresso.

Fluted teacups and saucers have a series of furrowed wedges radiating from the center ring out that get grow in size as they head to edge.

Footed teacups have a distinctive foot at the bottom.

Luncheon sets include a teacup, saucer and matching luncheon plate.

Scalloped teacups and saucers have edges that are composed of arches or semi-circles. They can be evenly sized or alternate large and small.

Smooth shaped teacups and saucers are just that. Smooth and simple. They let the decoration do the talking.

Snack sets or tea and toast sets or luncheon sets are oversized plates with a place for your teacup. There is no saucer.

Swirled teacups and saucers are like fluted teacups that had a ride on the tilt-a-whirl.

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If you want to find out more about teacups, here are some wonderful places to read more:

The National Shelley Collector club has a fabulous pictorial glossary.

The Tea Blog of the English Tea Store has tasty tea time recipes and tea cup loving posts.

Teacup handle shapes have different names, Tea with Friends offers an introduction

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Non-bone china teacup related factoid: NOAA’s Storm Center describes 3″ hail as teacup (for reference, the scale ranges from  .5″ is marble or mothball to 4.5″ for grapefruit)

 

 

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