You can thank Naomi from Vintage Secret for my latest passion. She has the most beautiful array of vintage bone china, some of which stays in her possession at all times, but a lot of which is hired out for events and parties all across London, under the Vintage Secret at Home banner. Being short on disposable income now, I have had to seek solace in weekly trips around all the local charity shops in the vain hope of finding a vintage gem. So far, I’ve not found a single thing. But what I have come across is a plethora of gorgeous vintage bone china, usually languishing unloved in a dusty corner and with very reasonable price tags. About three weeks ago, I bought myself the most divine forty-piece Alfred Meakin tea set dating to 1933. It looks like this:
This pattern is Alfred Meakin ‘Caledonia’. Isn’t it lovely? I bought all 40 pieces (12 cups, saucers and cake plates, milk jug, sugar bowl and two large plates) for £22 and watched a set of ten places plus milk jug and sugar bowl go for £150 on eBay only a few days later!
Now, in all my time of having my own place and of being grown up enough to have tea parties, I have thrown tea parties a total of… never, so a 12-person tea service is not going to see much use at the moment (a very good excuse to start though… anyone for tea at my place?). And I already had a six-person set of Colclough china. So imagine my consternation when I kept coming across more beautiful and thoroughly cheap bone china during my trips around the local car boot sale and charity shops!
So, after discussing it with Naomi, I have decided to start up my own collection of china to hire out, as the Southern Counties branch of VS at Home. It’s not going to be a bookable service quite yet – I’ll probably launch it in the spring, when I have even more lovely china to choose from. And my china will also be used during Roaring For Teas parties when that service gets going. But before that, I thought I would share my favourite finds so far with you, in case any readers are fellow china buffs. 🙂
Stamped ‘Melba Bone China’, this handpainted set dates to the 20s or early 30s. I have six of everything plus a larger plate. Unfortunately one of the teacups is cracked, and I trusted the seller so didn’t check them all thoroughly enough. I have learned my lesson! If anyone sees a cup in this pattern for sale let me know… sadly, I think it is super rare.
Another early 30s set by Royal Vale China (which later became Colclough). I only have two cups, but six saucers and cake plates, plus a larger plate.
This next trio stirred up some controversy when I mentioned it on Twitter! I will admit I was being slightly sensationalist though!
It was made by German porcelain manufacturers Felda Rhön. It dates to between 1933 and 1949, so it was effectively produced in Nazi-Era Germany, although it’s unlikely it was produced during WWII and it was NOT made for the Nazis or the SS as it lacks a swastika on the bottom. It’s also far too pretty for any soldier or politician! 😉 Still, it makes me wonder what this little trio has ‘seen’ and how it made it over here.
These next two are 1960s sets, but so pretty!
Beautiful, graceful white china with pale green bases and middles, decorated with 22kt gold (or so it says on the bottom).
This is a typically chintzy Queen Anne set, but the cups are a nice shape, and it’s in lovely condition.
I will stop there as the rest of my bits, although pretty, aren’t particularly rare. The other sets I have photographed (along with the ones here) are in this Flickr set, but I have more I haven’t taken any shots of yet.
Do you collect a particular pattern? I will now be on the hunt for a teapot in the Caledonia pattern to match my set… in fact I can’t find a vintage teapot at all! I have a lovely coffee pot and matching milk jug, but I think teapots are much harder to come by. I expect they are used until they break and any that do get given away are probably snapped up much quicker. So if anyone ever sees one that matches mine, do let me know, won’t you!