I have ten 6" plates that I use as bread and butters or dessert plates, with my white china. I always use one for my morning egg. Why do I go to that much trouble? Because I'm worth it! ~
By the late 1700's, the popularity of tea sets imported from China spurred British potters to copy their style of decoration. The first willow design may be attributed to Thomas Turner of Caughley Porcelain in 1780. William Spode and Thomas Minton both copied his pattern in 1790. The most popular colour was blue, followed by pink, green and brown. It is always on a white background and the pattern is applied as a transfer.
The romantic fable associated with the pattern, and probably invented by Spode, has it's origins in England and has no links to China.
The most popular version is a tale of star crossed lovers; a wealthy mandarin's daughter and her father's lowly accounting assistant. When the father discovers their love, he fires the assistant and builds a fence around his property to keep him away. You'll always see a fence around the teahouse. The boat in the pattern carries a rich duke, who arrives with a chest of jewels and plans to marry the girl. The lover sneaks in and steals the jewels and the girl. You see the couple running across the bridge to escape to an island, but the father is close behind with whip in hand. The couple are killed. The first versions didn't include the two birds. Later versions had the gods taking pity on the lovers and allowing their souls to take the shape of doves and fly off together. Awwww, how sweet!
Without a doubt, Jane Austen and her heroines dined from this very pattern! ~
Anne Shirley will have had a piece or two in her House of Dreams and Carolyn Ingalls may even have had a teaset by the time she reached Plum Creek.
I found the most unusual use of the pattern on a blog called Pigtown Design. Imagine having a Blue Willow ballgown! ~
You might want to be on the thin side to wear this so you don't look like one of those 70's wallpaper murals entering the room!
Yes- I would look like the tureen in the salad plate world wearing that dress! I do love Blue Willow...always have. I do remember it at my Aunties house when I was a kid. xo DianaReplyDelete
You have me laughing out loud, Diana! You can be the tureen and I'll be the platter!Delete
My grandmother had these dishes, I'm sure my Mom still has a few of the pieces. I LOVE that dress, but am no longer thin enough to wear it - 12 years and a lifetime ago I was!ReplyDelete
Don't worry, Laura, we can cut the dress up into cushions. lolDelete
I love blue willow and have many pieces, all the way from vintage with some old cracks and chips up to Blue Mikado and everything in between. Well, not everything but quite a bit. It was nice to read about blue willow in your post today.ReplyDelete
Oh, I'd love to see your vintage pieces, cracks and all!Delete
We had a complete Blue Willow set that was on display in a glassed in cupboard which was where it stayed. It never graced a table, as far as I can remember. As a five year old I couldn't figure out why they were so valuable as I thought they were not nearly as pretty as the pink roses on cream dinner plates we used every day. I was warned never to touch the "good china" which of course became a challenge. End result? The cherished set was short one bread and butter plate and I got a good spanking that I haven't forgotten to this very day, 63 years later. Blue willow brings back some bittersweet memories, LOL. MarilynReplyDelete
Would you like to come over and break one of my willow plates? I have an odd number anyway and we can erase the bad memory and replace it with one where we laugh about the damage!Delete
Ha! You are always too funny. I love blue and white dishes all the time! They are such a classic.ReplyDelete
The blue/white colour combo works in pretty much any style, doesn't it?Delete
Thanks for the history lesson, its always interesting to hear the story behind the design! I will now look at the blue willow design with a new appreciation.ReplyDelete
You are so welcome! I don't think I could handle a full set of the pattern, but do love the idea that the pattern has been around for such a long time.Delete
How interesting! I had no idea! As for the ball gown.....I would be the mural!!! Thanks for this very interesting story!ReplyDelete
You're welcome Danni! I wouldn't have any place to wear the dress anyway. lolDelete
Thank you for that story. People often ask me about these dishes in the antique mall I work in, and this will make a great story to tell. Maybe you can answer me about this some are marked Japan, England or USA which are the most desirable? Also I love the dress, and yes only stick people can wear that dress!ReplyDelete
The pattern was used on all grades of pottery. I'd say that vintage, British porcelain would be the most valuable. A piece from the 1700's, by a premium company like Minton, would be more rare and costly. It's still being produced today, so backstamps are the only way of telling if a piece is truly vintage. Hope that helps!Delete
Love your Blue Willow, love the story! The dress,well, not so much.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Dottie. I kind of liked the dress, but would wonder if everyone was thinking of dishes when I wore it. lolDelete
When we bought 822, I found some blue willow dishes out and about the yard..probably feeding cats and birds...I brought them in and washed them..still have a bit of "rust" and I use them for bulbs...so cute!ReplyDelete
Bulbs would be lovely in those dishes!ReplyDelete
I would love to smash those plates. For mosaics of course. I know that's hard to swallow for collectors, but I see cool plates in pieces!ReplyDelete
I'm sure there are plenty of cracked and chipped ones out there for art projects. lol They would be great in mosaics!Delete
I actually used to run a Royal Worcester and Spode concession in a department store and I have a 'Blue Room' brochure that states that Spode produced 'the original of the only true willow pattern'.ReplyDelete
I think it's a bit of a hollow claim because no-one really knows.
Anyway Maureen, I love blue and white, I have quite a few bits of Blue Italian. Great post and I would love that dress if I were way younger, way slimmer and way taller !
Thanks for the info Fiona. When I went to confirm my 'facts' on google I found tons of claims to the pattern. It does look probable that Spode wrote the story to go along with it. I don't think I'll be getting into any dress like that any time soon but it's fun to look at. sighDelete
I have always loved this pattern, I guess anything Blue & White would be my favorite...ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing & for visiting
You are worth it. My neighbor has an entire set of Blue Willow-it is her summer set. I have no seasonal china. Just what I pick up here and there. Blue and white is so classic and appealing.ReplyDelete
Maureen, You know how much I love blue and white so of course I love this pattern. xo, SherryReplyDelete