Monday, August 8, 2016

Vintage Finds: Antique Brownfield & Son Chinoiserie Revival Pottery

Brownfield & Son, Brownfield & Son dishes

On a recent weekday trip to my favorite downtown charity store, the Assistance League Thrift Shop, I discovered a small box of dishes tucked away on a shelf in the back of the shop. A sign on the box said "Brownfield and Son dishes, pattern number 8909, introduced 1879. Dishes are as found. Use for crafts? Priced as a set, $5.00." I suppose someone who knew anything about antiques would have scooped up the box and happily paid the five dollars.

Not me.

Although I've become quite familiar with the 'vintage scene', and comfortable in my knowledge and expertise in buying pieces that I'm attracted to, I know next to nothing about antiques, so I passed up on the purchase. 

But that evening I found myself thinking about those Brownfield dishes, recalling the pattern, the colors, and the crazing on the glaze. What was especially interesting was the very wide range of wear and use amongst the pieces, from chipped, cracked and color-worn, to almost perfectly preserved, and all had a gorgeous aged patina. Clearly these varying levels of wear show how the items were individually used and cared for during their lifetime over the past century and a half. From a favorite teacup used each and every morning for many years, to the one dinner plate that sat reserved for a special guest, just imagine the stories that each piece could tell!  

As well, I realized that the pattern, with its graceful chrysanthemum-like flowers and the interestingly shaped urn with a depiction of a tiny Asian style building with mountains and a tree in the background, were in fact, the very Chinoiserie style I have recently come to love.

So, when Saturday morning came around, I went back to the shop to see if the box of antique dishes was still there, and if so, that I would buy them. And I did.

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Although the Chinoiserie style was fashionable worldwide during the 17th and early 18th centuries, it fell out of favor by the 1760s. Then in the mid-nineteenth century there was a renewed interest in Asian themed decor, and it has continued in popularity into the modern era.

My 'new' old box of dishes were made during the 19th century revival period of the Chinoiserie style. A few of the pieces are back stamped 'Brownfield & Son, No. 115', and I've been able to confirm that this particular back stamp was used between 1871 and 1891. Each of the pieces has the number '4773' hand painted in red, as well as 'Brownfield' and dates of manufacture impressed into the clay. These dates are 1878, 1879, and 1880.

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Curious to know the history behind these lovely dishes, I did some research, and here's what I found:

According to an 1886 advertising pamphlet, William Brownfield & Son were successful manufacturers of  'Useful and Ornamental Goods in China, Earthenware, Stoneware, Majolica, and Parian'. From about 1850 until 1891, their Cobridge Works factory, at Stoke-on-Trent, England, made these house wares, and employed about 500 men, women, and children.

William Brownfield (1812-73), the son of an earthenware potter, began his own career in earthenware manufacturing at the Cobridge Works pottery factory, which was built in 1808 and located on Waterloo Road. The factory was occupied by a succession of producers over the years, including Brownfield, until November of 1850 when Brownfield started working on his own there, producing his signature earthenwares, blue-printed and iron-stone ware, hand-painted wares, and one of the firm's specialties: moulded stoneware and Parian jugs. In 1871 the business became a partnership, when Brownfield's eldest son, William Etches Brownfield, joined his father. Porcelains were introduced that same year. In 1876 another of Brownfield's sons joined the business. W. Brownfield and Son(s), as it became known, grew into a successful large home and export trade business, with about 600 employees, into the 1880s.

In 1893 Brownfield's Guild Pottery Society Ltd. was formed to carry on the work of William Brownfield, until 1900 when the Cobridge Works was closed down and demolished. The Myott brothers rebuilt on the site in 1901, establishing yet another pottery factory - but that's another story in the great tradition and historical timeline of pottery manufacturing in the United Kingdom!

As mentioned, I've become very fond of the Chinoiserie style and a recent purchase of a c.1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch brought the historic aspects of Asian themed house wares into focus for me. Since then I've been actively researching it, as well as going through my vintage collections looking for similar items with which to style my hutch.

I'm very pleased with the purchase of these historic pieces of Brownfield and Son pottery. These new old dishes will certainly enhance the variety of Chinoiserie style items in my collection, and I look forward to adding my story to such beautiful old relics.

  
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Sunday, July 31, 2016

#collectandstyle July Monthly Favorite

bymeeni, Madeline Norris, bymeeni on Instagram, #collectandstyle Instagram hashtag, floral plate and flowers

Hello #collectandstyle community, thank you for visiting the Under The Plum Blossom Tree blog! It is a joy and a pleasure to share with you my favorite image from this month's Instagram #collectandstyle hashtag. Please welcome the multi-talented artist Madeline Norris, who is known on Instagram as bymeeni

In her own words, Madeline is a "mama, artist, maker, lover, dancer, sister, dreamer, friend, singer, and daughter". If you were to view her blog or any of her various social media links, Madeline's talents and interests reach far and wide. Well versed in both art and craft, you'll find her skillfully drawing original animal and people characters, wielding a craft knife and creating magnificent paper cuttings featuring birds, hearts and flowers, hand sewing beautifully dressed cat, bunny and fox dolls, and teaching children how to paper craft windsocks and carnival headdresses.

Madeline is also a baker, who often uses seasonal ingredients. Some of the delicious looking recipes she has recently made and shared are her lavender biscuits with lemon glaze, rose petal chocolates, meringues with cream and fresh berries, and a raspberry and red currant cordial.

Nature plays a large role in Madeline's life; she enjoys gardening, walking, and photographing the outdoors. You'll find yourself appreciating the many flowers, trees and beautiful skies that she lovingly captures with her camera. She runs a seasonal hashtag on Instagram, the current one being #summercolourloving, so be sure to share your summertime nature-inspired images with her there.

Social activism is important to Madeline. She recently contributed her quilting, fiddle playing and singing talents to a local effort to assist refugees, and is involved in building relationships of trust in her neighborhood through #nearneighbours on Instagram.

As you can see, Madeline possesses an abundance of talent and that may have you wondering, of all these gifts, what draws me most to Madeline's work? 

That is very easy for me to answer! The above still life image is a small sampling of her vintage crockery collection, styled beautifully with pretty doilies and seasonal flowers. Madeline is a regular contributor to #collectandstyle, and I enjoy seeing how she styles beautiful old ceramics, whether it's with freshly picked flowers, or her favorite recipes.

Want to find out more? You can find Madeline on Instagram, or at her blog, meeni.co.uk. You can also find her on TwitterFacebook, Pinterest, and YouTube, so be sure to follow her!

Thank you for stopping in; I hope you've enjoyed getting to know the creative personalities behind each of the monthly #collectandstyle images I've featured so far, and I look forward to seeing all of your delightful postings there over the next month. 

If you would like to participate in #collectandstyle, you can get all the details here. I'll see you there soon!


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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Vintage Finds: Tickled Pink!

Daher Decorated Ware, Designed by Daher, Daher of England, Daher made in England, Daher Long Island New York, Daher 11101, Old Royal Bone China England, Old Royal Bone China Teacup and Saucer, Vintage Teacup and Saucer, Old Royal Vintage Bone China Teacup and Saucer, English Bone China, Chinoiserie style lamp, vintage Chinoiserie style lamp, Oriental vintage lamp, Oriental girl in dress vintage lamp, Asian girl wearing dress vintage lamp

Hi Everyone! Today, I'm delighted to share with you a sampling of color filled vintage finds from a few of my recent treasure hunting adventures. It's exciting to find the sorts of home wares that I adore, and I also love the challenge of styling and photographing those items for you, both here and @undertheplumblossomtree on Instagram. 

In deciding what to share this month, I realized that the three objects shown in the picture each had the color pink in common, and that I was captivated by how well they harmonized. 

The blush pink Old Royal bone china teacup and saucer is a calm and stable element, compared with the more lively shades of pink in the Oriental dancing girl ceramic lamp base, and the vigorous saturated pinks in the stylized flowers of the Daher of England decorated tray.

Very soon, I plan on fitting hardware and a cute shade on this old ceramic base, and placing my new 'Chinoiserie' styled lamp on the bedside stand. And on a lazy morning in the not too distant future, there will be tea served in bed - in the pink Old Royal bone china cup, carried in on the Daher tray. What fun!

Do you enjoy styling, and using, your vintage finds? If so, please join me on Instagram at #collectandstyle. There are now over 1,000 images posted to the #collectandstyle gallery, and you can meet other like-minded creatives and have some fun. See you there!
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Saturday, June 25, 2016

#collectandstyle June Monthly Favorite

@gingerfancy on Instagram, collect and style, collect style, vintage collection, World War II memorabilia

Hello #collectandstyle community, I'm so happy you're here, at the Under The Plum Blossom Tree blog! Today, I'm excited to be featuring my favorite image from this month's Instagram #collectandstyle hashtag. Meet gingerfancy, who is, in her own words, "a Minnesotan discovering wonder and magic in the everyday". 

Barbara Marincel's Instagram gallery is full of beautiful flowers and vintage findings, but what really tugs at my heart most in Barbara's images is the way she lovingly styles her collection of precious family photographs and mementos, such as the above tribute to her father. She has also featured letters from long ago written by family members, a diary kept by her grandmother, and her uncle's war rations book, all of which she lovingly shares, along with other tidbits of her family history.    

Barbara's father, Leonard Henry Resch, served in the United States Army and fought in several battles, including what is considered to be one of the most famous battles in history, the allied forces' landing in Normandy on D-Day, June 6th, 1944.

In the caption to the above photo in her Instagram gallery, Barbara stated: "My dad was in the third assault wave to hit Omaha Beach... that morning. His unit took 50% casualties. He always told me that courage is being scared but doing the right thing anyway. He would know."

In addition to her own beautiful gallery, Barbara is also a member of several Instagram hubs and is a moderator for illustrious_art. In addition to her work on Instagram, Barbara also blogs at discoveriesofgrace.wordpress.com, where you'll find "Everyday Wonders and Gingerfancy Photography." There, Barbara writes about living life to the fullest despite chronic illness, and is in the planning stages of starting up her own fine art photography business. 

Thank you Barbara for sharing your beautiful photos to the #collectandstyle gallery!

If you are a collector and would like to participate in my Instagram hashtag project, you might like to read #collectandstyle - A New Instagram Hashtag. See you there!

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Styling The Seasons - June

circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, Numi Organic Tea, made in Japan, ceramic birds made in Japan, wild sweet peas, Homer Laughlin, Homer Laughlin Virginia Rose, Homer Laughlin Virginia Rose Moss Rose, Homer Laughlin Fiestaware, Homer Laughlin Persimmon Fiestaware

The urge to preserve our memories is a basic human phenomena, which has endured over time, and the methods we use to record the events of our lives are steeped in traditions such as writing and photography. These days, we might even prefer writing on paper or perhaps taking photos with our film cameras, to the more modern electronic devices available to record our thoughts, hopes, dreams or remembrances. 

But even in this modern age we may still want to find more traditional ways to express the significance of some of life's more memorable moments. And in our homes and other personal spaces, we might gather together objects and memorabilia, and display them in a way that, hopefully, communicates the special meaning of those special times.

Thus, my Styling The Seasons post for the month of June represents two significant and memorable events that happened within the last month - my first foray into sponsored posts on Instagram, with Numi Organic Tea, who sponsored my #collectandstyle hashtag on Instagram for the month of May, and the purchase of a circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch.

circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch

Several of the tea related objects on the shelves of this newly acquired hutch are the result of my collection habit going into full gear, for the sake of tea. If you've been on Instagram lately you may be aware of a recent styling trend using flowers and tea or coffee as design elements. I was drawn towards this, both because I loved the idea of a good scrummage through a charity shop searching out vintage tea cups and saucers, and I also enjoy the challenge of having new subjects to style and photograph. As well, the tea and coffee trend fits nicely with my #collectandstyle hashtag.

I thrifted all of the teacups and saucers, as well as the neutral colored hand painted Japanese teapot on the middle shelf (right side) and the creamer next to it. The white Chinese teapot, also hand painted, (top shelf right), has been in James' family for a very long time, since the early 1950s. The dinner plate on the top shelf, also thrifted, was made by the Homer Laughlin China Company in 1940. 

The bamboo box on the bottom shelf is very special to me because it was a gift from Numi Organic Tea. The grand prize during their May sponsorship was their "Flowering Tea Set in Bamboo" gift box. They sent me one of the gift sets for styling and sampling, and I plan on reusing the beautiful hand crafted bamboo box for memorabilia. 

All four of the ceramic birds are some of my most precious keepsakes - they are all from my childhood. I really have no idea how it is that I still have them! While growing up in the city of Chicago, there were many Saturdays when I would walk to the neighborhood shopping district with my weekly allowance. One of my favorite stores there was Woolworth's, and that is where I bought all of these colorful, made in Japan birds, one at a time.

No Styling The Seasons post would be complete without flowers, and I am happy to share a bouquet I made with wild perennial sweet peas. For years I've been seeing the many lovely wild pea vines growing next to the bike path along the Willamette River, and recently thought it would be fun to grab my clippers, gather some up, and bring them home.

circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, wild sweet peas, vintage Japanese wooden lamp
circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, wild sweet peas, wild sweet peas in vintage Asian designed container

Such a bright color! But what do you think, is this magenta or fuchsia? What I really love about this color is the subtle underlying blue or blue/violet tone, and as they fade, these wild pea flowers gradually become that darker bluish shade.

I began this wild floral arrangement by placing a frog on the bottom of a vintage ceramic container. Luckily, I happened to have the right size and shape frog in my collection of flower arranging tools:

Flower arranging using a frog, how to use a frog to arrange flowers, wild sweet pea flower arrangement using a frog

I gathered the flowers in pairs back to back, and placed the pairs first in each corner of the vessel, then began filling in the front, sides and back in the same manner, poking the stems securely down onto the prongs of the frog. I repeated with double stems along the front, then directly behind this row of flower pairs, I placed single stems, all facing front using longer stems, in order to build some height in the middle of the arrangement.

wild sweet peas, wild sweet peas in Asian style container, wild sweet pea flower arrangement, Asian style flower arrangement, Asian style flower arranging

This vintage container, with its Asian influenced design on the front and repeated on the back, has a base style that echoes the 'feet' on the James Mont Chinoiserie hutch. Have a look:

circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, vintage hutch, vintage Asian style hutch, Asian appliques on vintage hutch

It's interesting how the design of the cabinet base, with its cut-away groove between the cabinet and the pedestal, creates the illusion of the base floating on its pedestal legs. 

As long as we are focusing on the bottom portion of this hutch, check out the lovely three dimensional appliques on the doors!

circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, appliques on circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, close up view of appliques on circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch
circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, appliques on circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, close up view of appliques on circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch

This pair of elements is what places this piece of furniture squarely into the 'Chinoiserie' genre; with its evocation of a Chinese garden scene, it is very reminiscent of the famed 'Blue Willow' dishware pattern. As well, the uncomplicated design of the piece as a whole also lends itself to an Asian influenced style.

Owning a hutch has been on my wish list for years - I always wanted a special place to gather and show my favorite vintage pieces. And it may surprise you to know that I didn't want just any hutch, but this exact one! Some years ago, I had seen a limed oak James Mont hutch in a furniture magazine from the early 1950s, and always dreamed of owning one exactly like it.

And now that this wonderful vintage hutch is here in the dining area of my kitchen, I'm looking forward to the promise of future styling opportunities, displaying all of the fun collectables and family mementos that it will hold on its shelves, and in my heart, for years to come. 

circa 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, vintage oak hutch,

If you would like to read the story about my purchase of this hutch, you can find it here: Vintage Finds: c. 1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch. Also, if you would like to know more about my Instagram hashtag #collectandstyle and find out how you can participate, you may like to read #collectandstyle - A New Instagram Hashtag

And finally, Styling The Seasons is the brainchild of Katy Orme at Apartment Apothecary and Charlotte at Lots and Lotts. You can participate by styling a surface in your home that reflects what the month means to you and sharing it on your blog and/or on social media using the hashtage #stylingtheseasons.

hydrangea, blue hydrangea

Thank you for reading!


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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Vintage Finds: c.1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch

mid century modern, mid century, James Mont, James Pess, Demetrios Pecintoglu, James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch, oriental hutch, asian styled hutch, blonde 1950s hutch, mid century blonde hutch, vintage hutch, vintage oriental hutch, mid century oriental hutch, limed oak mid century hutch, Asian style furniture, Chinoiserie, Oriental, Oriental Spice,

Hello vintage lovers and collectors! Have you ever dreamt of owning a certain piece of furniture, in a distinct style from a particular era, and wondered if you would ever find it? That's been me, for the past twenty years. When I first started getting serious about collecting vintage, I saw an ad in a 1950s magazine that featured a blonde finish dining room suite, and all of the matching pieces had beautiful Asian decorative elements. I was immediately drawn in and knew that this was my dream furniture.

Last week as I was poking around in one of the charity shops downtown, I saw a gem of a hutch tucked sideways in amongst several pieces of run of the mill, nondescript furniture. I walked over to it to get a closer look, and for a moment I stood there awestruck, not believing what I was seeing! I ran my hands over the wood, felt the finish, looked closely at the construction, all in an effort to determine the quality and condition of this unique piece of furniture. My conclusion was that it was well constructed and just needed a bit of elbow grease. What sweetened the deal for me was that it was on a half price sale! 

I was tempted to buy the hutch on the spot. Instead, I brought the story of my discovery home to James and the next day we went to take a good hard look at it and make the decision together. We weighed the pros and cons of this purchase:

PROS:
  • It has 'good bones'
  • There is no major damage to the wood
  • The decorative appliques on the bottom doors are perfectly intact
  • The doors function perfectly

CONS:
  • The sliding glass doors on the upper shelf section are missing
  • There are no labels, tags or identifying marks of any kind
  • The top of the enclosed cabinet section has glue residue and several mystery screw holes and it is not clear what these were for 
  • It was pretty darn grungy!

James agreed with my initial impression that this hutch was indeed a well-crafted piece of furniture that just needed some loving care. I gladly paid $87.50 and made the arrangements to come back the next day to pick it up, which was the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend. 

I happily spent the next couple of days gently wiping away over six decades of accumulated dirt with a sponge dipped in a mild wood cleaning soap solution, followed by furniture polish applied with a soft cloth. By Monday afternoon, the cleaning process was done and I took the above photo, and since then I've been working on styling the shelves, so stayed tuned for the month of June's Styling The Seasons! 

It took several Google searches before I finally found a very similar, almost exact duplicate piece in their image database. According to the internet, this is a Limed Oak Chinoiserie Hutch by James Mont - a notoriously infamous East Coast furniture designer, decorator, and underworld figure who was active from the 1930s to the 1960s. Not only did I find an image of this same piece, but I also discovered that the hutch came in two sizes, of which mine is the smaller one, and were part of a collection that also included a credenza and matching table and chairs. The more I looked at the images I found on the internet, the more I think that this was the same dining set that I saw in that 1950s magazine oh so long ago! After studying the photo of the original, it became obvious that there was a short base piece between the upper shelf and lower cabinet portions of the hutch, missing from my new old find - hence, the glue residue and screw holes in the top of the lower piece. 

Overall, I'm very happy with this hutch - it's not perfect, but I love it! Now, how about some new wallpaper on the wall behind it?

   
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Saturday, May 28, 2016

#collectandstyle - May Monthly Favorite

rogersmade, #collectandstyle Instagram, #collectandstyle monthly favortie, Tiffany Rogers, milkglass, The Colonial Twins of Virgina, Lucy Fitch-Perkins

  Hello #collectandsyle community! Welcome to Under The Plum Blossom Tree blog. I'm so excited you're here! Today is the second monthly feature from my new Instagram #collectandstyle hashtag. Meet rogersmade, where Tiffany Rogers chronicles her work as a "maker/photographer of inspired home goods, jewelry, edibles, and imagery", featuring her and her husband Matt's RogersMade.com products. Throughout Tiffany's Instagram feed, you will find artful displays of their merchandise, such as Tomato Leaf Farmstand Soy Candle, and Peach Preserves Farmstand Room Perfume, all perfectly styled with flowers, ephemera, and all manner of interesting collectables.

Along with an extremely smart business sense, Tiffany is an "avid seeker of rusty and well-worn treasures", which really appeals to my collector's heart! Tiffany's love of collecting and styling her treasures shines through, with her Americana-inspired themes using vintage books, book pages, and beautiful old typewriters, to name just a few of the items I've gushed over. You'll find a few of her humorous typewritten "fortunes" in frequent postings to the Instagram
hashtag fridaysfortune.

Tiffany recently found several pieces of vintage milkglass, a few of which are shown in the above image. I think Tiffany is on the cutting edge of a trend with her recent acquisition of milk glass, and my guess is that we're going to be seeing a lot of it showing up in the charity shops, if we haven't already!

Congratulations Tiffany, you have won a Flowering Tea Set in Bamboo from #collectandstyle's generous sponsor for the month of May, Numitea.com! And a huge shout out to Michelle Bushneff at Numi Organic Tea for all her hard work and dedication to the #collectandstyle community, and to the creative folks on Instagram. Please consider following numiorganictea on Instagram - not only have they been very supportive of all our creative efforts, but they also care about our planet and the people around the world who work so hard to provide us with our daily ritual of tea.


Numi Organic Tea, #collectandstyle Instagram, Under The Plum Blossom Tree



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