Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Majolica Collection

Have you heard of majolica?  I started collecting this colorful pottery almost 30 years ago.  I have rarely bought a piece myself, receiving most of them as gifts.  The colors are what draw me in.  They are the colors of my house and look bright and happy.

This is the description of majolica from the website:  "The word majolica was first used in 1851 by Minton, an English adaption of the word maiolica.  Majolica is earthenware molded in relief, coated with white opaque glaze, then coated with richly colored, durable glazes which fired simultaneously. Developed in England 1849-50 and launched at the 1851 Great Exhibition by 1860 other European countries had acquired the technology, and by the 1880's the US was producing it" in great quantities.

Majolica fell out of favor for many years and it started to be a hot collectible again in the 70s and 80s when country decor started to become fashionable.  That's when I started to collect it.  I have never tired of it and if anything, my desire for it now is greater than ever.  Prices run the gamut.  Plates are usually around $200 - $300, but a game dish like the one on the cover of the majolica book below (THE majolica bible), can be $30,000.  I obviously do not have anything like that. 

I get a weekly email from - an English seller of majolica and my other favorite, Staffordshire.  It has really helped me learn the going rates for different pieces.  I also get the auction catalog from to drool over.  I have belonged to the Majolica Society over the years - They have yearly conventions where they hold a majolica sale called Majolica Heaven and they visit area collector's homes at the convention locale.  I am dying to go to one of those conventions!

Majolica is made into many different things.  Things for the table like plates, pitchers, cheese domes, sardine dishes, compotes, teapots, butter pats, cake plates, etc., and also larger items like umbrella stands, garden seats, cache pots, candlesticks, and wall sconces.  I'm working my way up to a garden seat!

Here are a few of pieces from my collection:

I believe this is my favorite piece.  It is the shell and seaweed pattern.  I adore the coloration on it.

After I bought this plate, I saw a photo of Betsy Cushing Whitney's bedroom designed by Sister Parish and it had the same plate sitting on her bedside table.  This is probably the only thing I will ever have that is like something Betsy Whitney had! 

This is called a napkin plate, modeled with a napkin in low relief.  They are usually decorated with flowers and leaves and used to serve dessert and fruit.

This is a special piece to me because it is the first one I collected.  It was a Christmas gift from my husband back in the early 80s and was bought in a little antique store in Venice.  I love it!

This is a unique piece for me.  Some majolica have animals on it and this one has a serpent for a handle (I know a serpent isn't actually an animal, but you know what I mean.).  I bought it for that reason and for the pretty blue flower on it.

This pretty leaf dish is Estrucan, which was made by the preeminent American majolica maker.  The company's name was Griffen, Smith, and Hill and they were located in Phoenixville, PA.

The Etruscan marking on the back of the plate.

Another piece of Etruscan majolica.  It has the three colors I most love and what my house is - pink, yellow, and green.

A tray that looks very "Floridian" with its palm leaves.  Isn't it pretty?

This is a sugar dish in the cauliflower pattern.  The lid is actually the same color as the dish.  Not sure why it photographed so darkly.

This is a small pitcher my husband bought me for Christmas many years ago from a small antique shop in Nokomis.  It has always been one of my favorites. 

There you have it - a taste of my collection.  I hope you enjoyed it, but not enough to start collecting it yourself.  I don't want those prices to go any higher because of increased demand!

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