By Liz Smith, Greenock-based vintage and homecraft blogger Shortbread and Ginger
I adore vintage china! My collection started with a few pieces of my Granny's china which no one else wanted after she died. I took them to display on my Welsh dresser and of course to remind me of her. But there were gaps on the dresser and they needed to be filled! Visiting charity shops soon opened my eyes to the wonderful assortment of vintage china available. In those days, around 2011, whole tea sets could be bought for two or three pounds. I don’t remember there being any vintage tea rooms or cafes around in this area, and certainly nowhere offering traditional afternoon tea (although without the added Prosecco that is popular now). So, I was able to indulge my passion without having to spend too much money.
Before I knew it, I needed more storage. What better than a vintage china cabinet like my Granny used to have – perfect for showing off my growing collection. I bought one for about five pounds and set about painting it white to make it a bit more acceptable. Then I had the joyous task of arranging my lovely tea sets to their best advantage in the cabinet. The addition of gorgeous little fairy lights made it perfect, well in my eyes anyway. Needless to say, a few years later, I had to buy another cabinet to show off my later bargains.
It is almost impossible for me to say what my favourites are. The great thing is that I can look back at my blog and see when and where I bought each piece. Some are more special because, once friends and relatives knew that I was collecting china, I was offered sets that they did not want. These mean something to me. Tea tastes extra special when drunk from a gorgeous cup. Some are just so pretty – the soft colours and interesting patterns make each of them special in different ways. I love to mix and match the patterns, putting cups with different saucers. Cake most definitely looks better on a vintage plate.
Of course over the years there have been a few mishaps. One evening I heard a terrific crash which sounded as if it came from the dining room. One of the glass shelves in my china cabinet had mysteriously tilted, shuffling all the china to one end. Miraculously nothing had broken, but my heart was in my mouth as I carefully extracted each piece trying my best not to make the whole thing collapse!
I no longer collect. A few years ago, at the height of the vintage tea room trend, the price of vintage china rose dramatically which was great for charity shops of course, but not so good for me. I’ve also run out of room! At the moment many of my treasures are packed away as we redo some of the rooms in our house. But I have plans. They’ll be back.
Granny, those hours spent helping you clean out your china cabinet when I was a little girl, made a big impression!