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Collecting by Accident

August 8th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Have you ever started a collection merely by accident?

A few years ago we were sort of strapped -- we paid our bills and tried to save some and I had a friend who was buying stuff like a new stove and dishwasher and updating this and that. I groused that even though I did lots of cooking and really could use new appliances and would love a kitchen remodel, we couldn't afford it and certainly wouldn't go into debt.

My mom, who had a wicked sense of humor, decided to help me with my "remodel." A local grocery store was clearing out dishes you could buy. Seems they had a dinner plate and cup and saucer in a box and if you spent so much that week, you could buy this little place setting at a cheaper price. Ever the bargain hunter, my mom thought two new plates and cups and saucers were cheaper than a remodel and would also give me something to unwrap come Christmas. My mom didn't have a lot of money either.

Christmas morning and the unwrapping began. Sure enough, she had me unwrap my two alike packages last and there were the Blue Willow dishes.

Now, there's something you should know. My favorite color is blue. And I like stuff with a history behind it. We had quite the chuckle over my new dishes and that my "kitchen remodel" was at least dishwasher safe. Two plates, who needs more when there are just two of us eating, right?

Well, the more I saw those plates, the more I thought about how I'd like to have a set of them. I went to the local grocery and sure enough, they had 2 other boxes of these place settings, still on sale, and I didn't have to buy groceries to get the cheaper price.

Did I need these plates? Heck no. I had a set of every day plates and set of "good" China. My good China was bought when a store called Carson Pirie Scott was in business and they offered two different patterns -- a place setting for 8 for $99. I didn't realize that this really wasn't "good" China, but it was fancier than most stuff I came across.

But this Blue Willow is the stuff I really liked. So, it became a hobby. Whenever we would go the antique shops, flea markets, or even grocery stores, I would search for it. One big chain in Springfield was closing out on accessories like a platter, butter dish, and salt and pepper shakers. I found dinner plates in odd places. I refuse to pay full price.

Blue Willow has a story attached to it. Seems there was a father and daughter and the daughter fell in love with a man who worked for her father. The father did not want the relationship to continue, and like Romeo and Juliet, the two lovebirds died a premature death. The pattern has two lovebirds and also willow trees, hence the blue willow name. Pretty cool history, eh?

I started searching Ebay. My favorite company that makes it is Churchill because it can go in the dishwasher. Seems lots of companies have manufactured it through the years. I do have a few old pieces that came from Japan and when I use them I have to hand wash them. I bought a really fancy casserole dish that I refuse to use because it is so delicate. I had a funny mistake -- I kept bidding on another Churchill casserole dish and I would always miss it by a dollar or so. I decided I'd bid on two, thinking I'd get one. Well, I wound up winning both of them, and I paid about the same for both of them than if I had bought them outright from a website.

The Blue Willow search has increased my collection. One friend searches for it and I get it as gifts for birthday and Christmas.

I finally decided that since I don't give fancy parties, I don't need my "good" China anymore and I donated it. I donated my other set of dishes we used to use too because I like the Blue Willow so well. I guess the chefs on television wouldn't like to use them because many say you should use plain white plates so the food stands out. Apparently I'm not a purist.

This all started from a joke. My collecting was truly by accident. But what a fun "accident" it has become!

3 Responses to “Collecting by Accident”

  1. PatientSaver Says:

    I used to enjoy collecting odd bits of that greenish dishware that Martha Stewart made famous. It looks like colored glass, i forget the name of it now. I liked it, not becus Martha Stewart had it, but because it's what I remembered from being at my grandmother's home all the time, and it was some of her collection that started off my own. I eventually sold it all to an antiques and collectibles shop.

    As for "good" dishware and everyday dishes, i use what I like every day. I inherited some silver-plated flatware from grandma, too, but why keep them away except for the holidays? I use 'em every day.

  2. Ima saver Says:

    That was interesting to find out about!!

  3. momcents Says:

    I still shop at Carson Pirie Scott!

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