Continuing an Eastery theme, I have learned a bit more about the table service I picked up in a charity shop for the huge sum of 40€!
As you can see, this set with stencilled/hand painted hens, chicks and cockerels is quite large - it must have originally been a 12-place setting, with several sizes of lidded bowls, serving plates and fruit/cake stands on pedestals. A few are actually cracked. The platter has been used and used and used again. There are chips on one or two items. But the rest is in super condition, and we are now using the plates every day.
I turned the plates over one evening and started Googling the text on the base of each item. As you can imagine, it wasn't exactly easy given the curly-wurly writing, and the first thing I had to do was type in 'faience'
, which is the name for this kind of pottery. A great list of the faience manufacturers of France pointed me in the direction of Sarreguemines
, which is apparantly what that stencilled writing says! It's one of those towns that kept switching between Germany and France in the nineteenth century, and remember that date, folks, because that's when this pottery mark was used!
I was pretty certain that the pottery must date from the 1930s-1950s, because nearly everything I buy does, and the design certainly isn't 'Victorian' to my mind - too simple and even faintly modern, I'd have thought. But I guess that it was based on the lovely hand-painted pottery of rural France (from Quimper in Brittany to Martres-Toulouse down here), and that its simplicity doesn't imply a recent date.
I called Ben to see the results of my research, and we began to get a bit worried, because what if I'd accidentally bought something that is too good to use and to put through the dishwasher?
Our final conculsion is that, although the set must add up to being worth quite a bit (a lidded bowl like the one above, whose lid I've put on the shelf above, could be worth about 90€), if we're careful with the big pieces, never use the cracked ones, and stack the plates carefully in the dishwasher, then I just happen to have bought us the best quality but also most useable table service that we will ever own!
It goes well with the other handpainted, Denby or Portmerion pottery that we have collected over the years, and we have ourselves a collection!