Since this is the time of year when we are all thinking about green beer and leprechauns, I thought I would share my century-old Irish-German-American shamrocks.
This delicate Irish-inspired china set came from my mother-in-law, Betty, who had a keen eye for special pieces.
How is it Irish-German-American?
Most of the pieces have a single gold stamp on the bottom that show that they are Pickard, an American maker of fine china. The mark was used between 1912 (the year the Titanic sank) and 1918.
So what we have here is an Irish-inspired American china set, right?
Except that the larger plates have two marks.
This particular Thomas Bavaria mark was used from 1908 until 1939.
And with a little more research, I learned that this pattern was retired in 1915. And then I knew I had a century-old Irish-German-American china set.
But Two Marks? What is Going On Here?
The Pickard china company (founded in 1893 and still in business today) at one time imported china from Europe and Japan. One of their suppliers was Thomas.
Pickard then hand-painted and gold-gilded the china in their Chicago location. They employed notable artists and did many art pieces as well as china sets. Their work was imaginative, beautiful, and detailed. Small variations in the hand work set it apart from machine work.
You can see here with the salt and pepper shakers that the height of the gold band varies, something that was probably not planned.
The cups and saucers have so much character and beautiful color.
By the time these pieces were made, the Thomas china company in Bavaria was an independent subsidiary of Rosenthal. Thomas had only been in operation for a few years before their beautiful work caught Rosenthal’s attention. Different incarnations of the Thomas mark endured until at least 1977.
But during the world wars, Pickard could not import their china. They moved their operations to Antioch so that they could begin to manufacture their own pieces. They have a long history of supplying china to the U.S. government as well as foreign dignitaries.
My set (really a partial set) comes with some fun pieces. I love the heart-shaped handle on the sugar bowl lid.
I have one little egg cup. So cute!
And an interesting little footed bowl.
Since there are no dinner plates, my set could be a dessert or tea set.
But that doesn’t explain what appears to be a gravy bowl among the serving pieces.
I do use these pieces on special occasions, but as you can imagine I handle them very carefully.
This is all from Betty’s collection, but I am playing with the idea of adding to this set. While not a dime a dozen, I can still find some pieces on the internet.
It was interesting to learn the history behind this set. These old things we have in our homes often have a hidden history waiting to be discovered. What do you have in your china cabinet?
Here are some other stunning examples of Pickard china from Etsy.
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