I’ve always been drawn to old things – whether it’s an 18th century novel or vintage china – I appreciate when something has stood the test of time. One example is my love of Royal Copenhagen’s blue fluted pattern — a design produced continuously and collected passionately since the 1770s. I’ve known I wanted it for our wedding china since I was 12, but that said, two years into marriage we still don’t have a complete set.
Despite having a small and incomplete set we “bring out the good stuff” all the time, and enjoy our fine china on a daily basis. Aside from our wedding china I’ve been collecting vintage china since college buying up sets on my regular visits to antique shops around San Francisco, Chicago and New York. By keeping pieces to a few key colors we’ve been able to mix and match dishes to host dinner parties from intimate dinners for 4 up to banquets for 22 in our home! I also love having so many interchangeable patterns because it keeps our table looking fresh and allows me to change the look with the seasons.
Tips for buying vintage china:
No. 1 – Start with a basic white set of dinner and salad plates, preferably with a little texture. These will be the foundation for your collection. You can add in patterned tablecloths, napkins or dessert plates to add interest. (Mine are Wedgwood’s Nantucket Pattern, and they’re not vintage. :))
No. 2 – Pick one color that will be a common theme through all your patterns. I chose cobalt blue which is picked up across my RC blue fluted plates, Blue Willow bowls, and Mason’s Persiana dishes, as well as my flow blue serving dishes.
No. 3 – Higher quality china generally comes from England and France, and will have a maker’s mark on the back with the company name and/or pattern on it. When I find something I like I’ll quickly google the maker and pattern to make sure I’m getting a good deal. I’m not talking about buying china as an investment (though that can be great too!) I’m discussing buying what you love and enjoying it every day so if you love a set that doesn’t have a mark on it, who cares? Go for it!
No. 4 – Avoid pieces with crazing (a network of fine cracks in the glaze), chips and cracks, all of which can become more prominent and discolored with use.
No. 5 – Buy sets whenever possible. I won’t buy vintage plates unless there are at least 8 in the set, because I just know that however good my intentions, it’s unlikely that I’ll hunt down additional matching pieces.
Some of my favorite places to hunt for vintage china are:
Blue Door Antiques in Livermore, CA
Stuff in San Francisco, CA
The Vintage Loft in Wheaton, IL
Junk in Williamsburg, NY
Pippin Vintage Home in New York, NY
Happy Hunting! xx SF
Photos by Stacie Flinner for stacieflinner.com