2017-05-18 / Arts & Entertainment News

COLLECTOR’S CORNER

A highfalutin’ find that’s better than, ahem, just desserts

My name is Scott and I hoard china.

I live in a 1,200-square-foot house with two cats, five sets of silver and 10 sets of china.

There.

I feel better now.

The only good thing I can say? I’m not indiscriminate.

I watch for the finest, and I buy when I can.

Unfortunately, it is way too easy for me to feed my habit as prices drop for such finery as the early to mid- 19th century English dessert service I recently acquired.

It’s beautiful, with green trim that looks like the essence of summer and bouquets of hand-painted flowers that remind us of the labor involved in creating an object of beauty, brushstroke by brushstroke.

The upper middle class and wealthy would have dined from pieces such as these nearly two centuries ago. I’ve seen pieces such as this set in mansions that are now open to the public.

They were expensive back in the day, in no small part because luxury goods sold in North America had to be imported from Europe. Nobody made them here.

That’s why Mary Todd Lincoln’s White House china was made in France by Haviland.

Later presidential china services continued to be made in France or England until the early 20th century, when Walter Scott Lenox’s New Jersey company created a set for the Woodrow Wilson White House.

Antiques dealers and collectors of a certain age will tell you they remember a time when people actively bought, used and displayed china such as this.

But those collectors came of age in a time when people tended to live more formally — even Homer Laughlin’s übercasual Fiesta ware offered everything but finger bowls in its initial 1936 lineup.

I love my Fiesta ware, too.

Being casual doesn’t mean being sloppy.

These dishes probably will make their debut at a dinner this summer.

I love using the “good stuff” — it sets a pretty table.

But it’s never stuffy. I always ask my guests to come in casual attire — shorts, flip-flops, whatever.

After all, it isn’t Buckingham Palace.

Dishes merely set the stage for the food and the conviviality.

A dinner party is about being comfortable, and sharing decent food and a drink or three among friends.

Let’s raise a glass to that!

Oh, and let’s not tell anyone about my little habit. ¦

THE FIND:

A Copeland & Garrett dessert set

Where: The Lord’s Place, 7600 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561- 594-0125, ext. 4412.

Paid: Set totaled $86, less 25 percent. I paid $64.50.

The skinny: The name of Spode is synonymous with English fine china. Josiah Spode II and Josiah Spode III died within two years of one another and company associates William Copeland and Thomas Garrett assumed ownership. Pieces made by them even carry the mark “Late Spodes,” indicating the connection.

The company got a boost when Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837 and ordered dinner services for Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. The Copelands bought out Garrett in 1847, so we know this dessert service, with two oval platters, a round serving dish and 9-inch plates was made only between 1833 and 1847.

It’s easy to see why Queen Victoria ordered the wares — they’re created from beautiful, translucent porcelain, they were made in England, and the decoration was quite delicate. ¦

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