Anyone else in the vintage dish collecting club? You know the one where you can’t walk by a pretty vintage dish without picking it up, contemplating bringing it home, setting it down and trying to walk away and then turning around to grab it before anyone else does? Yeah. I am right there with you in that club and did you know that I was once asked if I would trade several pieces of antique children’s furniture for 2 sets of antique china? You know I did.
So, I might even be in the running for being the presidents of that antique plates and platters collecting addicts club.
So aside from deciding to have 270 china cabinets and cupboards to store them all- how Do you decide which pieces you have. to. have. and which ones will be a passing fancy? I mean, you could probably make a case for most of them – but there are definitely some that I will grab more often than others and so, I am sharing my rationale for floral china today. Spoiler- it may be right or wrong- but that is what I do
Vintage Floral Dishes
I cannot resist a floral embellished plate or teacup. Those dainty delicate flowers and scrolls just get me every single time. And if there is a whole set on the thrift store shelves? Somebody hold me back. I will put allll of them in the cart.
I remember the first vintage floral dishes set I brought home- it was from a tag sale down the road from my grandparents house and it was a Limoges Chocolate Pot and cups. It had the most dainty details and beautiful delicate lavender color flowers and I stood there and stared at it for I don’t know how long. I think it was $125 for the set if I remember correctly- and that was a lot for me to spend on anything at that time- but after a couple of days- I could not forget about it.
Side note: I will share the sweetest part & rest of the dishes at that yard sale story when I share the red transferware I recently brought home next week. Since then, it has been all about collecting those dishes that speak to me. I usually do a Favorites from the past post each week- and this week, a lot of questions on shopping marketplaces and collecting and how to know if you should buy. I thought I would re-share this post today sharing a bit more about how I decide which to bring home & which to show some restraint on. It usually comes down to that feeling and the 3 loves rule.
Staying Power or Passing Fancy?
I have a rule that applies to most everything when I am shopping- new or vintage. It has to be a Love, Love, Love – or I don’t bring it home anymore. why? Because I could fill up the house, the cottage, the barn, the you name it in about 5 minutes if I brought home everything that caught my eye or talked to me. So, I decided to pause and ask myself if it is a LOVE or a LOVE LOVE LOVE. You see, I LOVE a lot of things- I see the potential to a fault and love details or quirks or the ‘idea’ of using that item in the house for a fabulous styling or vignette. But do I triple Love it? Not always.
Have you brought something home that you LOVE and you put it on the sideboard, you admire it, you think it is pretty when you walk by – for a while. And then something else you LOVE comes home and the sideboard is perfect for that – so the other LOVE gets set aside- even goes into the donate pile after just a short time in the house. I kind of think those things are like a ‘passing fancy.’ Maybe you saw a beautiful styling in a magazine and knew you could recreate it when you saw that ‘piece’ but really, in the end- it maybe wasn’t exactly ‘you’ and your lasting style- and so, it isn’t hard to move it along for something else that is.
I have been there so many times. So I knew that I had to change the way I looked at things to stop bringing those ‘this could be really beautiful if I put it here’ things home. I realized that there are some spaces and rooms in my house that I styled with pieces I absolutely loved love, love, love kind of love – and they have pretty much stayed the same consistently. Even if I update bedding for the season. Or change the flowers and nightstand details or rearrange the inside of a cupboard. Those staple pieces are triple loves and I don’t remove them. They are very much ‘Me’ and I love them just as much as I did when I first brought them home.
So if I can’t walk away from something I think I am so in love with because I just know that I LOVE LOVE LOVE it and it fits ‘me’ perfectly, drooling about where it will go and can even imagine it in several places – well, you know it comes home with me. Otherwise, I let it simmer and wander down another aisle and see if it keeps talking loudly and I keep coming back to it.
Limoges, Nippon, Meissen, Royal Staffordshire, Haviland, Noritake, Spode- I could go on. and on. and on. There are so many different makers of beautiful vintage plates and tableware- I think that would almost have to be several posts to cover the favorites and what to look for in the most valuable. It is good to have a general idea of what to look for- and the most known or popular in various regions but you can absolutely collect with your ‘heart’.
I tend not to pay US much attention to that Unless it is something I am planning on re-selling at some point or something that is costing me much more than a usual amount. But there are some makers marks that are very expensive and that collectors covet- and others that are simply absolutely beautiful pieces maybe unmarked even and are not necessarily the most expensive. So research the mark if you want to – but if you go with what you love – you will be happy either way.
Plates & platters & any pieces that have a special meaning to me. Those are probably my 3 favorite things. Okay- and little covered dishes and pitchers.
If I find a stack of 6 or 8 vintage dinner plates- oh I get weak in the knees. If there is just one – I bring it home even so if I have to have it. I am not picky when it comes to a need of a certain number of them- though the more the merrier, right? I love plates and platters for several reasons. Number one- both are beautiful on the table- mixed and mingled or on repeat. Two- they are also beautiful on the wall as decor- I love a good plate wall. Three- they look great in plate racks on display in cabinets and hutches- so classic and beautiful. SO- they are pieces I am always drawn to.
I also have special pieces and sets. Pieces that were my grandmothers or great grandmothers for example. Even if they are worn or chipped or crazed- I love them and am reminded of them each time I bring them out or see them. So those are always keepers.
Teacups & Saucers?
I do love a dainty teacup and delicate saucer- but I don’t generally bring them all home. They are so darling so I do have a few stacks here and there of ones I really love the shape or style of- but they generally really have to talk to me to come home with me.
Bowls & Tureens
Small bowls and large bowls -yes, yes, yes! Regular sized bowls are not necessarily my repeat pieces so I find it easier to bring home just the ones I love. Since I do use the vintage china pieces I have- those larger serving bowls and tureens are some of the favorites to have and enjoy.
Display or Use & Enjoy
I currently have a fresh quinoa salad in an antique bowl that was my grandmother’s in the refrigerator and it brings me joy in several ways. The quinoa is delicious and it makes me feel like Bob in What About Bob every time he takes a bite of the food at dinner at Dr. Marvins house (any other Bob fans out there? You get me. ) And the bowl also reminds me of my grandmother every time I use it and I love that. I am a big believer in using the pieces you love.
Our silverware drawer if full of mixed vintage silver-plate flatware. I will admit that when I am grabbing a fork for dinner- I navigate to my favorite vintage ones over the more ‘clean’ looking newer ones. So use and enjoy- and Display them in between. The best of both worlds.
5 things I look for in vintage china
So we covered the triple love rule and my favorite pieces- so here are 5 more things I look for when it comes to saying yes to the set (or piece).
- The Right Color Palette: I seem to almost always navigate to my favorite go to colors – in every shade. They are easy to mix and mingle effortlessly and beautifully as well.
- The Delicate Details: Oh those details get me Every. Time. Delicate swirls, raised embossing, scalloped edges- you know what I am talking about – if a piece has those- it is going to give me a challenge to leave behind.
- The Pattern: Of course, if you are already collecting and have certain patterns that you love – when you find a stack of plates in that pattern – you are bringing them home. If you are starting a new collection – go with a pattern (or pattern) that speaks to you.
- How Many Pieces There Are: I don’t generally care if it’s just one or a couple pieces if it’s something I am in love with. They will go in the cart. But sometimes you might find a whole set of delicate china- maybe a cream color with gilded edges for example. I bring them home – because those larger sets can mix and mingle with patterns and other sets easily. And especially if you have just a few pieces in each size at home, they can help give you a full table in a snap.
- Conditions: While I do have several pieces with old coffee stains and crazing and yes, indeed, many of them are chipped. If you want only pristine pieces – shy away from those with too many ‘dings and dents’. I tend to fall for the things that give something character (hence this old house of ours) but from a collection standpoint- if you only have a small amount of space to store and so are only going to have so many pieces – pay attention to the condition and be a bit more selective.
Where to find and sell
Adding this note in since there have been a lot of questions – you can find vintage pieces at thrift stores, tag sales, antique stores and online. Or barter with a friend who has a set you love haha. You can also sell them in those same places. I would try local antique shops- see if they have an interest or might be a collector and also Facebook marketplace & craigslist – which you can sell locally on. For online with shipping- try eBay and Etsy.
What are you Collecting?
I hope this helps give some idea of a method to collect my madness and inspires you to bring out those pieces you have collected over the years and love them even more. As I mentioned, I brought home another set of transferware that I will be sharing more of (along with the rest of the yard sale score story) AND I might have also brought home a few new floral pieces to add to my collection. It wasn’t my fault. We stopped at the thrift store and there they were looking at me. My husband just smiled and turned around to go grab a cart while I stood guard of them. He knows me well.
What about other collections- what should we cover next? I tend to go weak in the knees for a lot of things. Remember that antique French mirrors I just brought home? Enough said.
I have talked about chair addictions before… (I have made some progress there with brining home random chairs) but what about linens? bigfurniture? Fancy tables and chests of drawers? There are so many things that we all collect – and that we love and love to collect. And after the crazy past couple of years – I am more and more about just letting some of those rules go-and going with the ‘if it brings you joy’ rule. And if it does- bring it home. Even if you already have 27 pieces just like it. Just be glad it isn’t an old car collecting addiction.
Really though, the point is- collect what you love and what works for you and your lifestyle. There really are no ‘rules’ for collecting or designing to follow. And I am not a big believer in rules anyway- I say just follow and do what makes you happy and it is perfect. (If you need to blame someone encouraging your vintage treasure shopping and bringing another piece of whatever it is that talks to you home- I have got your back) Happy collecting all.