Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Counting, re-counting, magic...or...?????

A few years ago I inherited my dad's step-mom's fine china and matching crystal.
My mom had the set for awhile, and then decided that since I didn't have a fine bone china set of my own, I should have it instead.

(Well, that isn't completely true, I actually own a set of Haviland Limoge china that was made in 1890, but Bernie refuses to eat on it. It freaks him out to think about how old and valuable the dishes are, so they are still stored at my folks house, almost thirty one years after we got married. Not that I am bitter or anything...and NO DAD, DON'T SHIP THEM TO ME NOW.)

Mom especially felt that I should have the china set because we had just gotten a dining table and a dining room, years after I had finished raising a family in a house with just an eat-in kitchen and a plain kitchen table.

Now I had never actually seen my Grandma Fay use these dishes, so I don't have any memories of the dishes from when I was young.
The pattern is called Rhodora, it was made by Lenox, and from what I can learn, it was "new" in the mid-1950's, (just like me, snicker.)

At first I wasn't sure that I wanted the set as I have never been a big fan of raspberry/fuchsia colored anything,

The rose didn't do much for me, but hey, free bone china!
You can hold them up to up to the light and see you hand right through the plate!
If they chip, the chip won't turn color like stoneware chips do!
You have to hand wash them!!! (wait a minute...that's a drawback....)

Bernie loved them immediately.
I think that was mostly because I had been making noise about us getting some real china after years of serving all our meals Dansk stoneware.

(Mom's gift sure saved him a few bucks...and my dad was glad to get at least one set of dishes out of his house. Mom owns about five or six sets at last count. Not including my Haviland. The men folk counted this gift as a win-win all the way around.)

Grandma was a woman of elegant taste. Known to me as "Momma Fay", she was born in Texas, the "girl at last" with many older brothers. Later in her life, after marrying my grandfather, she moved to Tennessee and became a true Southern Belle.
She entertained constantly, with a full time cook and gardener on staff.
Life was good.

She was my "Southern" grandma, who lived far away Memphis.
I only visited her there twice in my life, but I learned right away about the ways of the southern belle. Mentally I am all over that gig. Sign me up. Serve me grits for breakfast and call me "Sugar" all day long.

Now I'm not sure if Rhodora was her only china set, but I do know that she selected the crystal to go with the pattern.
The crystal is really a uniquely rich color, and it just makes the set sing.
Clear crystal looks so boring after seeing the table set with this particular kind of crystal.

It is the crystal that I really want to write about today.

I read about the guy who originally created the formula for this kind of raspberry pink glass.

He never revealed his formula, and since his death no one has ever been able to duplicate the deep color in any other crystal. The crystal is quite delicate, and so is becoming more rare as time goes by.

My crystal pattern is called Tiffin Wisteria. There are various numbers associated with that name to designate specific stem patterns For example, some stems have three bulb shapes, some are four sided etc.

My Mom keeps her eye on the Replacements website, the on-line resource where you can find just about any china, crystal, or silverware ever made. Recently she found two wine glasses in my pattern that were available on the site. She got them for us, and then asked me to count how many glasses I now had.
I decided after Thanksgiving to pull all the crystal out, label each shape by size, and do a count.
Good for insurance records, don't you think?

After I had taken a picture of each group, I shot a picture of each style of glass sideways with the measurements as well.
I had ELEVEN 5 1/2 in water glasses. See the picture of all the glasses a few pictures above. Enlarge, and you can see the notation.
Laura discovered that I actually had TWELVE as she helped me slip the crystal back into their storage boxes.

Now I had cleared the counter, emptied the storage boxes of crystal, and placed the crystal in groups.

I had ELEVEN 5 1/2 water glasses in the group picture.

How is it possible that really I had twelve???

(No, I had not had a little wine either.)

Well fiddle-de-de.
I do ever so much hate math.
I simply am not good at anything that involves numbers.

Hint for the day: Have you inventoried your crystal and china and silver lately, using your digital camera?
Might be a good time to do it if you have it out again for Christmas.


Sara at Come Away With Me said...

Hi Jill. You are now the crystal counting queen! Beautiful things.

Thanks for your comment - my Nano winner's icon is up, but I moved it down toward the end of the sidebar. Finished yesterday - the 50,000 words but certainly not the story!

Yours sounds really interesting. And I know it will be good, with all that research.

Kate said...

So pretty! You should use it often - it's the Southern way. I miss having my Lenox china for holidays but will have it back soon along with my mother's Georgian Rose sterling silver.

When we got married we registered for china only since we had all the other household stuff we needed. Seems like every time we use the china we celebrate our wedding all over again.

K Q:-)

Anonymous said...

What a marvelous idea...I do not have a digital inventory of my fine china (Royal Doulton Angelique), nor do I have one of my crystal (the name slips my mind at this moment...I'll have to look it up). That would be a good thing for me to do, especially as I'm packing up things that must, unfortunately, go into storage for an indefinite length of time (we're preparing our house to sell in anticipation of an upcoming job transfer to who-knows-where...Yippee! I'm leaving Orlando!).

I have never seen raspberry-colored crystal before. That is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for the great suggestion!

Jane Carlstrom said...

Lovely to behold and must be so much fun to use. Thanks for sharing these gorgeous pieces.

Darla said...

What beautiful and unusual crystal. I get weak in the knees when I walk through a department store that has displays of china and crystal. I want it all.


Lovella ♥ said...


The china is just beautiful. When I started collecting my Sweet Violets set in high school I loved it then and loved it now. I use it regularly becuase I was told that china needs to be regularly washed so that it doesn't dry out.
You might want someone to unpack that precious china and give it a soak. I don't know whether that's really true but being a research librarian I'm certain you could find out.

The crystal is just so beautiful. I'd love to be there to use a flute to toast with you.