Saturday, February 16, 2013
Taking Time for Tea
The only caveat is not going to the auction house to check out the merchandise beforehand. Looking carefully at the images online can be misleading. Sometimes, you can end up with a sensational buy and high-quality pieces, and other times you can come away with buyer's remorse and a less-than-desirable piece. Both things happened to me this week when I participated in the latest Crow's Auction, which is just up the road from me in Dorking.
We would have loved the teapot to go with the set, but I think it would be a rare find, indeed. I scope out the pottery very carefully before the auction, and I am pretty particular about what I want. I don't usually have a lot of competition on bidding for pottery (a sad state of affairs for the remaining pottery manufacturers in England). However, I found I was bidding against some other keen collector (or trade vendor) with this set, and I had to pay £42. However, once you check out ebay, and discover one teacup with one saucer in this pattern for $200 in the US, you know that you have a great find! I do think it is unfortunate that pottery in England isn't valued as highly as it currently is in the United States or Asia. After so many companies have exported manufacturing to Asia or have shut their doors here in England, I know one day that we all will regret their extinction.
A few months back, I had another spectacular purchase of a Wedgwood Columbia Powder Ruby part tea set (along with a Paragon Holyrood part tea set) for a mere £22. The lot contained the most luscious teapot and two adorable teacups with saucers (sadly, I've already managed to break one of the tea cups :-(. I am a strong believer in using these items after buying them, and there is a risk of breakage. However, I won't be able to enjoy the pieces from the grave! I later found the Columbia Powder Ruby teapot being sold online in the US for $500. Okay, so I use the teapot less frequently than I did when I first acquired it from the auction!
The Columbia edge of the Wedgwood pottery features a motif of mythical beasts that face each other and the style is available in several color combinations. I still have not been able to ascertain the age of my acquisition except to find that the Powder Ruby began production in 1920 and was discontinued in 1999.
Whenever I see some of the prices of these pottery pieces sold at replacement online sites, I always hesitate, take a deep breath, and question using my finds. But my hubby Niall and I seem to be of like minds on this, and we've decided to enjoy the subtle pleasures of part-taking in a tea experience punctuated by these exquisite pieces of history and culture.
This morning, we used our Birmingham silver teaspoons and our silver plated Victorian tipping teapot (one of my first antique purchases), and we 'broke in' (sorry :-) our 'new' Aynsley teacups, which probably hold about 4 ounces of liquid. They are smaller than our modern day teacups, and that reflects how our current culture seems obsessed with 'more is better' instead of pausing to enjoy the art of conversation and ceremony. The tipping teapot, with its stand and wick burner, can keep the tea warm through a luxurious long breakfast. Each time we refilled our tiny teacups, the tea was piping hot.
I hope you find your special time today, too, to slow down and enjoy gentle conversation and companions.