Friday, September 14, 2007

Collections


I collect antique dishes. Dish collecting is an interest I got from my mother; the antique part is just my twist on that tradition. When there is a special occasion at my house I get out my Jewel Tea dishes. The first pieces in my collection (a large bowl, a baking dish and a salad bowl) were well-worn and came from my grandmother. I love them because of that connection. They remind me of being at her home, drinking Coke out of fancy glasses, staying up late, playing endless games of cards, and feeling very grown-up. Over the years I've acquired additional pieces as gifts. Others I've purchased at auctions and antique stores. They aren't fancy dishes, and maybe they are a little homely. But I love them.

The story behind Jewel Tea is one of the reasons I love them so much. Starting in the early 20th century, the Jewel Tea company employed door-to-door salesmen all over the nation and they sold dry goods (and tea). Customers earned premium stamps for their purchase and with those stamps could get bonuses, including these dishes made by Hall Superior dish company. Over the years, Hall Superior made more and more special pieces for Jewel Tea and thus a collector's paradise was born. There are innumerable dishes in the collection ---- custard cups, sauce bowls, plates of all sizes. You name it and Hall made it.

My grandmother remembered that her mother bought things from the Jewel Tea salesman in the 1930s because he had a lot of children and she worried they didn't have enough to eat. There's always plenty to eat at my house, of course. But I never forget that act of kindness by a woman a few generations away from me, yet still present at my supper table whenever I set out my Jewel Tea dishes.

17 comments:

Gill said...

What a fascinating post, thanks for sharing!

Chelle said...

Each year at Passover we eat dinner on Amy's grandmother's china. It's great to have that connection to earlier generations.

Becca said...

What a nice story! I love having dishes that belonged to people in my family - it makes them very special.

dreamergirl said...

What a lovely story! I have some bowls that belonged to my grandma that I love to use too. It's all in the history :)

gautami tripathy said...

Come collectibles have such beautiful memories.

Patois said...

Oh, I love that story. It's so nice to have something that constantly bridges the generations.

tumblewords said...

Beautiful story, well told. The pattern looks vaguely familiar to me even though I don't know why. The relationship between your grandma and you is touching.

sister AE said...

What nice memories to go with those dishes! I like the corner cabinet, too. It reminds me of a corner cabinet my grandmother had in her dining room, with glass doors on top and solid doors on the bottom. There was another corner piece in a different room, but it was more open, like a tiered table. My grandparents called it the "whatnot".

Jo said...

I love family stories and this one really touched me!

forgetfulone said...

Very cool!

Robin said...

I love the way your grandmother started collecting the pieces to help the salesman feed his family. A collection begun in love and continued through love, I'll bet it makes food taste better too.

Boricua in Texas said...

They are lovely pieces and the story behind them makes them eve more endearing. Thanks for sharing.

ren.kat said...

There is a grace in just being capable of owning them, isn't there?

I admire that.

Shelby said...

awesome collection :)

Yolanda said...

This is a nice story. I have the harvest pattern with the grapes for Indiana glass company for the same reason.It makes a connection with the past that I love.

harmonyinline said...

I used to have Jewel Tea dishes I love them!

boliyou said...

Very nice collection. Thanks for sharing!