A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Majolica Christmas Memory

With the holidays approaching I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite majolica Christmas memories.

In the early 1990's my eldest sister started collecting majolica. She bought her first three pieces from me and has purchased pieces now and then from antiques shows ever since. She buys what she likes and what she can afford like most of us and doesn't place that much stock on its monetary value. She has amassed a lovely collection.

One day in the late 1990's while I was working as an antiques dealer, my Mother and youngest sister shared with me their conundrum. They just couldn't find an appropriate gift for my sister for Christmas. They asked me if I might have something in the way of an antique she might like. Earlier that day I had picked up a small majolica mug from an antiques showcase in Adamstown PA I was hoping to keep for myself, but knowing how special it was I suggested it as a gift for my sister. I unpacked it from the bag I had brought it home in and gave it to my Mother to look at. She thought it was pretty but was concerned about the tiny chip on the lip. I assured her that the chip was minor. She and my sister decided to buy it for my oldest sister for Christmas. I told her to only pay me what I had spent on the piece and to put my name on the gift when they gave it to her. I knew that I was underselling the mug significantly but I really wanted to encourage my Mom to buy the piece. I wanted my eldest sister to have it.
A couple of weeks later on Christmas day when my sister opened the package, she screamed with joy. Then she saw the tiny chip on the lip and was visibly disturbed by it. Immediately she brought it to everyone's attention that the mug was damaged. I was slightly disappointed with her reaction but assured her that it was a minor flaw and did not significantly affect the value. She thanked us all and took it home where it has sat in a corner of her china cabinet ever since.

Since we presented her with that mug my Mother has passed away so it's taken on a certain sentimental value  that other pieces in my sister's collection do not have. I look at it whenever I go to her home, as I will next week for Thanksgiving, and am reminded of the circumstances that led to it landing there. It makes me smile to see it.

The mug is a George Jones chestnut blossom mug. Since my sister received it the price of it has increased several times over regardless of the chip. To this day I'm still not sure if my sister appreciates the monetary value of the mug but I do know she wouldn't sell it for the world and that's good enough for me.

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