On the hunt for fine china
  • On the lookout for small dinner plates
  • Prepping to host my first Thanksgiving meal
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    Auction Finds

    Telling the story of mom’s cherished china

    The note was written in a neat clear script. I couldn’t see the exact words from where I stood across the table at the auction house, but I was hoping it was a personal message.

    Handwritten in black fountain-pen ink, the note was atop a white porcelain dinner plate with pink roses. I walked around the table to the other side so I could read it:

    “These six beautiful rose plates are part of mother’s full dinner set of dishes which she bought herself when I was about 16 years old. She thought a lot of them and did not use them very much but had them stored away for safe keeping along with her old dishes. Norman, July 25, 1938.”

    Rose-pattern plates belonging to Norman Fulmer's mother.

    Rose-pattern plates belonging to Norman Fulmer’s mother.

    The note was written on a card with the imprinted name of Norman T. Fulmer, who had written the same message on the back of the plate. The dishes were marked with the maker’s name and logo: Imperial PSL Alma. The Austrian company used the logo from 1914 to 1918.

    I can only assume that Norman wrote the notes after his mother had passed, and he wanted to make sure she was not forgotten. It also seemed to be a way for him to celebrate something that she had accomplished on her own. His notes – a provenance or history of the plates – offered a slight window into who she was and the period in which she lived.

    Her set of dishes recalled a time when women bought dinnerware for special occasions and kept it in a china cabinet looking pretty. This was the good stuff, even if it wasn’t top-of-the-line fine china. For them, though, it was the best they could afford. The “old dishes” that Norman mentioned were the ones that the family used every day.

    A plate belonging to Norman Fulmer's mother.

    A plate belonging to Norman Fulmer’s mother.

    Another plate with lilac and cream flowers held a note presumably from Norman’s older brother Russell:

    “Spring Mountain, Pennsylvania
    August 6, 1946

    Here’s a plate that mamma marked (on bottom) “Xmas present Mother 1899.”
    My grandmother Tyson gave it to mamma when I was eight years old.
    Norman was then 3 years old. Russell T. Fulmer.”

    Altogether, there were six plates with notes from the two men. Here are the rest:

    Plate belonging to Norman Fulmer's mother.

    Plate belonging to Norman Fulmer’s mother.

    “I do not know where this old dish came from. Mother had it stored away with these others, and most likely she considered it to be quite old. Sept. 18, 1938.” The plate looked to be stoneware, but it could be discolored from age.

    Green transferware plate from Norman Fulmer's mother.

    Green transferware saucer belonging to Norman Fulmer’s mother.

    “This old cup and saucer from Holland is very old. Mother had it carefully stored away for safe keeping. July 25, 1938.” The cup was missing. This is a green transferware saucer in the Honc pattern by Petrus Regout & Co., Maastricht, Holland. One site described transferware as china for the middle class.

    Red transferware plate belonging to Norman Fulmer's mother.

    Front and back of red transferware plate belonging to Norman Fulmer’s mother.

    “These plates, pink and blue, are unquestionably very old. Mother had them carefully stored away for safe keeping. I wish that I might know their history.” The blue one was missing. This is a Staffordshire red transferware plate in the Asiatic Plants pattern. A platter in this pattern was said to be circa 1830s.

    Plate belonging to Norman Fulmer's mother.

    Plate belonging to Norman Fulmer’s mother.

    “This old plate was used in our family for many years, and later mother stored it away and regarded it as an antique. Norman, July 25, 1938.” On the bottom, the maker’s name and logo: Co-operative Pottery Co.

    Another plate on the table also bore a note, handwritten in blue ink, that did not appear to be Norman’s.

    “1st Christmas Present after Mom & Dad were married from Dad’s Parents.”

    Another plate on the auction table with a handwritten note.

    Another plate on the auction table with a handwritten note.

     

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