Landgirl1980: There are many things that I love about vintage. From the hair, make up, clothes. The music, the people you meet and the friends you make. Although I have been living my life in an outwardly retro manner for the last five years or so, it all started very much behind closed doors with small changes in my own home.

The first of which was the collecting of old crockery to make up my very own harlequin set of mis-matched plates, cups and saucers. I adore wondering who used to eat off of them or if they were everyday items or saved for a special Sunday afternoon tea.

I am not a theme or a colour collector, but a pure un-adulterated it’s-pretty-and-practical kinda gal. Saying that, most of my items have florals on them somewhere. The heart wants what the heart wants –  albeit subconsciously.  My own collection is very much complete – I have a vast array of “spares” should I ever drop on from drainer to plate rack – but some of you may just be starting out. Here are some of my tips for swapping your modern bits for something less so.

Over recent years, old crockery has become more collectible than ever. You will find plenty of online retailers as well as stalls at vintage/antique fairs that are laden with food and beverage holding beauties. And there are still some real bargains to be had, depending on your budget. The odd plate may set you back as little as £3 or a cup and saucer combo at around £5. That said –  I have seen them go for a lot more.Which is why I always keep an eye out at the charity shops, jumble sales and car boot’s. This is where pretty much all of my collection has come from. I have yet to pay over £3 for anything, with most of the prices being mere pence per item.

vintage crockery

I always check for chips and cracks. I can live with chips (I think it adds to their life story in some way) but avoid cracks in the glaze, as I have found that these only worsen with time. Some cups may have glaze damage from the year of teaspoon stirring, so have a good look at the condition before you make your purchase. I triple check to see if there is any metallic element to pieces. Many plates of a certain age may have been gilt-edged for decoration. Made in a time long before the microwave, they can spark and possibly damage your appliance if used to re-heat a meal –  so always check. I have been caught out before with a saucer which had a deteriorated golden edging that I had not noticed. As a rule, I only put more modern items in the microwave. The plate may have cost pennies, but a microwave will cost pounds to replace.

I also recommend avoiding the dishwasher or, in fact, very hot water for the older items you may find. Depending on the firing and glazing of the plate or cup, you may very well do more harm than good. A dishwasher may slowly remove any pattern and hot water may lead to your beautiful Thirties cup loosing it’s handle under the heat. I am sad to say that I have experienced both of these pitfalls. Thankfully, superglue works just as well on old bone china as new.

Lastly –  put your items on rotation. This is something that I have only recently put into play within my kitchen when I picked up a second hand free standing plate rack. I found that I was continuously using the same few plates during the week and became concerned that they may become damaged faster than the others. Not to mention that I wanted something else to look at whilst eating. All my dinner plates are now displayed and used intermittently so that they are all used and rested in equal measure.

Bear these tips in mind and you should be able to keep your collection happy and healthy and around for a long time to come. Unless, like me, you drop one. Which means you can keep an eye out for more.

LandGirl1980 is Charly Surry, a gal with a penchant for history, head-scarves and humour.
Charly is a full time retro dressing, history book reading, letter writing (the pen & paper kind), old recipe trying, hair setting, red lippy wearing, cat loving lass. The female role within both World Wars grabs her interest most, but she also has a thing for Anne Boleyn and Royal History in general. Charly runs Well Rounded Retro, an Etsy shop stocking mainly plus-sized vintage and retro.


4 Responses

  1. mary young

    I too have a collection of odd ball plates that I have collected from here and there. I keep them in a kitchen closet that has a pull out drawer and have four piles and they live there very nicely. I too am guilty of picking off the top as well. I need to go through and weed out what I don’t really love anymore and add new things to the flock. I have also taken old plates (desert) and glued a round mirror
    (from a craft store) in the center and hang them on the wall with a plate hanger. Very nice.

  2. LollyWillowes

    I have loved old china all my life. As a child I used to sidle up to the china cabinets in people’s houses and eye up the goods, and if there was a dresser full of stuff I was in heaven, about the dresser, too. I really was a very odd child! I have become more discriminating as I’ve got older, due to space more than anything. I have to absolutely love it before I’ll purchase. And I adore Art Deco glass. But the Pall Mall range of Edwardian glass is also rather lovely, I must collect some, been saying that for ages. Best bargain was a set of six Hazel Atlas tumblers in green for a fiver, seller didn’t know what they were!

  3. Rebecka

    You are so right about the dishwasher! My dear mother has managed to very much fade much of my nan’s lovely 1950s Swedish tableware to my horror by plonking it in the dishwasher. Like with vintage dresses it’s not worth the risk. Rotation is a good idea, can’t wait for the day when I can have a second plate rack and not hide away the crockery in the attic.
    Also think that you can get good bargains in antique shops if you are looking to buy full sets, possibly because few people have the space? Recently got a more or less complete 30’s dinner service for less than 30 quid, and that in a very popular shop in the south east.

  4. Jodie

    Great Tips! I love my oddments of vintage crockery, sometimes it’s storing them in a stack that scares me a bit. I try not to stack plates too high for fear the weight might crack one.