Friday, June 8, 2012

Sepia Saturday: One lump or two

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




This week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt features one woman serving coffee from a silver coffee pot, presumably part of a complete silver coffee and tea service. Could anything be more luxurious?  It surely beats Mr. Coffee with its glass pot and plastic lid.

My great-aunt Violetta Davis Ryan always kept a hot pot of coffee.  She could drink coffee many times a day.  I reckon so, as weak as she made it.  When my cousin Bobbie introduced her boyfriend (now husband) to our great-aunt, Violetta pointed to her coffee cup and asked, “Would you care for some?”  Jimmy answered, “No thanks, I don’t drink hot tea.”   Since then, we all refer to weak coffee as “Violetta coffee.”

Anyone who owned two silver coffee and tea services should have made better coffee, don’t you think?  My sister has them now.  Unlike Violetta, my sister Mary Jollette makes delicious coffee, but she’s never served it in silver.  The one set that belonged to Violetta is called Remembrance by Rogers Brothers.  The tray, however, is Victorian by Wilcox International.


This set includes the coffee pot, tea pot, creamer, sugar, and waste bowl. The waste bowl is where one empties cold tea or coffee before pouring another cup. "Waste bowl" -- wuddayaknow -- and all this time I thought it was a bowl for lemons or sugar cubes.







Her other set is just mix and match although the pieces look nice grouped together. The water pitcher is by William Rogers. The sugar and creamer are simply labeled “warranted triple plate,” which was a process of applying a thin layer of silver over a base metal. The tray is American Rose by Wilcox International.









Isn't the design of the handles and sugar topper lovely?












My silver coffee and tea service belonged to our great-aunt on our father’s side, Helen Killeen Parker. I have written about this set previously, so if you want to read about it, click HERE. It is called Shell & Gadroon by Gorham. But alas, no waste bowl! Wherever shall I toss my cold coffee?
 



I have one other coffee and tea set, but it’s not silver. This set is Japanese blue lusterware which was among the wedding gifts of our great-aunt Velma Davis Woodring who married in 1927. It is pottery or porcelain with a metallic glaze that creates the iridescence. It is stunning in person, such a beautiful blue with cups lined in a goldy-peachy-orangey hue. 



Lusterware was popular from the 1920s-40s. It went through a collecting craze in the 1980s but fell out of favor as soon as the Internet made people aware of how readily available it is.  






Do you see the Lusterware set on the front table?
It seems many of Velma’s Lusterware pieces were broken over the years. She obviously had many more cups than what is left judging by this photo of her wedding gifts.








I’m ashamed that these beautiful coffee and tea sets are just sitting around collecting dust as decorations. They need to be put to their proper use, and I vow to do just that one of these days. 

Take a coffee break and head on over to Sepia Saturday where you're sure to find many blogposts that are your cup of tea.


36 comments:

  1. Gorgeous tea and coffee services! Things used to be made so beautifully, but now most are very utilitarian, which I think is kind of sad...

    Have fun using the sets!

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    1. Thanks. I guess today's utilitarian piece will be a sought-after antique one day. The things of my childhood are already showing up as "vintage." Sigh ~

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  2. What lovely sets. We're all too busy these days to appreciate the time to sit down and make and enjoy cups of tea or coffee in proper receptacles.

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    1. So true. But I'm going to do it. I am. I am. I am.

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  3. How beautiful those sets are! And while I don't drink tea or coffee, I can imagine how elegant I would feel drinking hot chocolate out of one of those lovely cups. :)

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    1. Hot chocolate would work! And put mini-marshmallows in the waste bowl. We just won't call it that.

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  4. I can't imagine that anyone these days uses their silver service. Everything has become so casual. And who has time to polish all that silver?
    I love the Japanese set. It's so art deco-ish. Too bad it's not as valuable as it looks.
    Nancy

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    1. I really don't mind polishing silver although that tray is a bear. I'm more afraid of drinking from the Lusterware. It is rather art deco-ish, now that you mention it.

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  5. Wendy, you are so funny. I'd forgotten about Mr. Coffee. You guys have beautiful pieces, and I was thinking the same thing ... we should use our silver coffee pots once in awhile! Loved the story about your aunties weak coffee. When I first met Cary, he served Violetta coffee at work; and I was used to fresh ground French Roast each morning. He had to change his ways.

    Great post, my friend!

    Kathy M.

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    1. Oh no -- Violetta coffee vs French Roast -- talk about polar opposites! I'm glad Cary came over to the dark side.

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  6. I don't like weak coffee that I can't really taste, but I don't like the kind of strong coffee that they sell in the popular coffee shops either.

    I think coffee sets are better for displaying than using. My parents had a silver plated coffee set that I don't think was ever used.

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    1. As much as I really want to try serving coffee and tea in the silver, I do wonder if there is a health concern or any effects of the coffee/tea on the inside of the pots.

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  7. Love the post girl! We do need to look into serving "coffee" in our Silver Coffee Pots just because....

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  8. My grandmother had a beautiful silver coffee service. I wonder who has it now?

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    1. Let's hope it's a cousin and not Goodwill.

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  9. What lovely tea sets. I don't remember ever seeing such a tea set in our family. There are the china tea sets, which were won as bowling trophies and of course the billy's but no silver tea sets.

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    1. Bowling and tea sets -- what an odd combination! Maybe I should take bowling more seriously.

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  10. What a great collection. The other day our Sepia Saturday friend Mike Brubaker called in for tea along with his wife - they were holidaying in England. I had bought a cake to serve to them but as I was preparing things I suddenly realised we didn't have a tea pot! I felt a real sense of shame : an Englishman who makes tea by dropping a bag into a mug. I will buy a teapot soon, but I fear it will not be as beautiful as the ones you feature.

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    1. An Englishman with no teapot? What a let down for poor Mike! Like going to France and being served a Hostess Twinkie.

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  11. I like the waste pot idea, how useful is that. The sets certainly belong to an age of elegance, what a pity we don't use things like this now. Nice objects to inherit.

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    1. I know! Brides who've invited me to their weddings in recent years don't even have a silver pattern. They might get nicer stainless, but no "real" silver.

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  12. All beautiful pieces Wendy, but I have to agree that polishing all that silver would put me off. I do like the blue lustreware thiugh such a pretty colour.

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    1. The blue is quite eye-catching. I'm not sure my photo does it justice, but it's pretty close anyway.

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  13. No silver tea set in our house. We have a teapot somewhere but I can't remember the last time we used it. And the China teapot and the rest of the set are just for show in a dresser.

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    1. Sadly all this silver is too much for show too. But it surely is pretty.

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  14. Every time I go into an antique shop or consignment shop I see several tea sets. Everyone seems to be getting rid of theirs. Now I always thought I would love to have one but the silver ones are too pricy for me and I have more stuff now that we can dust. They are beautiful however and although we got several silver items 52 years ago no tea set. I have the one pewter pot and I cannot keep that shinny.
    QMM

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    1. You're in luck, Peggy. Based on the home decor blogs, tarnish is IN! I've been seeing lots and lots of silver trays in all their tarnished glory being grouped on walls.

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  15. I love the silver but I guess if I had to choose I'd take the lustreware. It's pretty in it's own way and way less manual labor.
    Barbara

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  16. Beautiful service, befitting an elegant ritual. Waste bowl, huh, I guess a little "warm up" just didn't cut it.

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    1. HA, evidently not. I guess the waste bowl preceded ye olde microwave.

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  17. I think my favorite piece was the water pitcher, especially for the details around its beak. My mom had some Lusterware, porcelain with that metallic finish, kinda ocrish color. But not a complete set, just odds and ends. I didn't keep those. Silver is a lot of care and prefer to keep it only for display. Beverages don't taste the same. Porcelain is preferable. And I won't discuss weak coffee as it might make my stomach turn.
    Enjoy your sets, whether for display or service. Just don't hide them!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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    1. Oh yes, I've seen the ocre-colored lusterware in antique shops. Pretty. You have good taste in silver -- the water pitcher is lovely and is just a nice size and weight.

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  18. What amazing things to have handled down in your family - how lucky are your and your sister! Get those out and start using them!

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  19. That lusterware is definitely a 1920s thing. My grandmother got a similar set as s wedding gift in 1925. I have it now - we used it for years - and our son will inherit it as he remembers tea with his great-grandma.

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