Sometimes it happens that enraptured with new treasures we rather forget our earlier finds, our eyes kind of skip past them; they become part of the status quo.
Take the petite Bretonne ladies for example: I guess nearly every collector has some and maybe we take them for granted a little, but if we look a little closer we will see they are not all quite the same. Some are fat, some are thin, some have mean, pinched profiles, others a softer, more generous look.
As I have always been …shall we say “generously” or “traditionally” built I personally favor the more buxom ladies and have two particular favorites in my collection:
The first of these ladies decorates an unmarked (but surely Quimper) ecuelle; her clothes are nicely painted and are in particularly attractive, soft colors. I have had this piece some years now: what seems like a lifetime ago I used to deal in antiques and collect-ables and regularly had a table at an Antiques fair in Oxfordshire.
These fairs are quite hard work – up at the crack of dawn whatever the weather, carry in the boxes, unpack, set up the table attractively and then just hope for customers. In the UK at least, the first hour or so is when most business is done, but the fairs are open perhaps until 4pm and dealers are not allowed to pack up and go home, no matter how quiet (or frankly, boring) it is.
During the day there is sometimes a chance to look around at other dealers wares and this was how I found this particular Breton lady: she was residing on the table of Helen Baker, who later became the first Quimper Club UK liaison.
I had a successful day and this piece was my reward……. (With this logic it is easy to see why I will never be wealthy!)
Over time quite a few fellow dealers got to know that I collected Quimper and would sometimes let me know when they spotted a piece. This is how I came to own my little coffee pot – a dealer took it into an Antique Centre (or group shop ) in Henley- on- Thames where I was a regular visitor, the Centre manageress, a friend of mine, put it aside for me.
I can still remember her taking it out of the cupboard and saying ‘You don’t HAVE to have it – it’s up to you’… but of course I did, I was charmed. We all know that “this piece is coming home with me” feeling……In addition, this piece came with an added extra …the Bretonnes mate, the Breton, decorates the other side of the pot……..
In the last Quimper Club Journal Don Batten and Janice Kania mentioned how each piece in their collection brought a different memory or story to mind – this is certainly true for me too, which brings me to something of a problem: we are planning some building work here and when it is completed there will be less room for my Quimper collection.
That will lead me to some hard choices – how can I choose? Setting aside some of those pieces aside will be like packing away bits of my life…….
Looking on the bright side, I guess every cloud has a silver lining – less dusting!!!
PS. In the UK ‘Two Fat Ladies" was the name of a BBC cookery program which featured two rather well built lady cooks going around Great Britain supposedly using a motor bike and side car to transport them. Sadly one half of the duo, Jennifer Patterson passed away, but Clarissa Dickson Wright is still going strong and has published her autobiography ‘Spilling the Beans’ : in my opinion she really does qualify as a true British eccentric, but she is also an extremely good cook!