Sunday, 31 January 2010

February Guest Blogger Carol H.

Hi there,
For those of you whom I haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting, my name is Carol and to kick off my stint as February's Guest blogger, Maggie has asked me to put together a few things about myself so here we go.................
My husband and I have been married for fifty years. We have two children and two grand children.
We now live on ten beautiful acres in the tiny town of Fort White in North Florida after a permanent move from West Palm Beach about four years ago. Our new home is small and comfortable and just right for our collections of Quimper, railroad lanterns, primitives and American Country antiques.
Bill is retired from the Nursery and Landscape business, a business we owned and operated for 37 years before retiring.
I have a degree in Nursing and spent most of my career in the field of Obstetrics. Although I gained a great deal of satisfaction as a nurse, my first love and God given talent is in the field of art and creativity. I am an avid reader and have learned to paint, sculpt, sew, knit, crochet and decorate eggs, just to name a few, from reading books.
My interest in Quimper started innocently enough at the age of eleven.
My father died when I was six, leaving my mother a young widow with a limited education and a child to raise alone.
As so often back then, she had been a housewife during their marriage and her career choices were, to say the least, limited.
She knew how to clean and she was good at it! So, it wasn't surprising that she chose to become a domestic.
Over the years that followed, Mom worked for a number of very wealthy people in and around the Hollywood, FL area where I grew up. With her personality and strong work ethic she was well liked and almost became a part of their families. One such family was a middle aged couple that had a sprawling Winter "cottage" on the ocean.

Mom worked for them on Saturdays and since I was a latch key kid, with nothing better to do, I would occasionally accompany her to work. I'd find myself a quiet corner and occupy myself with a sketch pad and crayons.
It was in the early 50's.
Shortly after arriving back from one of their several Summer cottages, the lady of the house asked my mother to pack away her old dish set, to be donated to the Salvation Army, to make room for a new service she had acquired during their many trips abroad.

As mom and I worked together to clean out the cupboards of the unwanted dishes, Mom stopped to admire one. "These are nice. Colorful and sturdy--- Rather like me", she smiled. "Do you like them?" I said, "Yes." They were, indeed, sturdy and colorful, with their bright yellow and blue bands surrounding Dutch people. On the back was the mark Quimper.

When the lady came back to check on our progress, Mom asked if she could have the dishes in exchange for working two Saturdays for free. The lady replied, "Julie, If you want them, of course, you may have them!"
That afternoon we took four cardboard boxes home with us, filled with our new "old" dishes. We used them on a daily basis for years never knowing what a treasure we had found!

to be continued.......................

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Q & A Friday

Please don’t forget that every Friday we will feature any questions we have had submitted and do our best to find the answer. Everyone can take part, whether they are a Quimper Club member or not !
Just send your questions to and we’ll do our very best to find the answer.

As we have no submissions this week I am going to turn the tables and ask you all for some help:
If you have been following the blog during January you will know that an upcoming home improvement project means that I will soon be packing up much of my Quimper for a while and then hopefully displaying it in a fresh way when the pottery re-emerges from its packing boxes into the new kitchen and dining/family room.

One challenge is trying to find a way to make an attractive display of all my little plates – I have about 50 of them in various sizes from about an inch and half across to just over 3 inches…..there are several decors but many are geometrics – the little dishes made popular little souvenirs of a visit to the faienceries or to Quimper and I have yet to see two alike. Some of the larger ones are a little deeper and perhaps were used for butter pats or curls.
These little dishes make a good start to a collection; you can become familiar with the feel and colors of the pottery without making a huge investment.
(Of course the very best start for anyone starting to collect would be to join the Quimper Club, but then I would say that, wouldn’t I?)
Is there a talented decorator out there? Does anyone have any ideas to display these cute dishes ?
I’m not very clever with anything crafty so nothing too difficult please…in addition dusting is not my favorite occupation ( I guess you may have noticed that!)
Oh ....and there is a 'fake' pictured in the collection, have you guessed which one it is yet ?

Lastly I have a favor to ask – I expect like me you will have been horrified by sheer scale of the disaster in Haiti and perhaps wished that you could do something. I’m pretty certain that many of you will have already donated generously to the disaster fund, but I wanted to draw your attention to a super organisation called Shelter Box’ This organisation sends Shelter Boxes to areas of need, the contents of each box are tailored to the specific requirement of each situation but each box will help 10 people survive for at least 6 months. The boxes contain such things as a tent, sleeping bags, water purification equipment, cooking equipment and a multi fuel stove for cooking on – there are also a few extras, things such as a coloring books and crayons for the children…
The ShelterBox Trust is a UK registered charity organized and administered by the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard but it also has international affiliates
Even if you have already donated to the Haiti appeal, do you think you could bookmark the Shelterbox site and maybe consider them the next time people need our help after a disaster - the chances are that Shelterbox will be there ...

Many thanks!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Last Look!

Over the years I have been asked several times to feature my collection in the Journal but I’ve always refused, however I thought that I would show you a last look around some of my collection as it is at present.

To say the least its eclectic……I’ve always bought what I like and the result is rather a mish-mash, however it’s ‘my mish-mash’ and as you have seen from my stints at blogging, some of these pieces hold special memories.

We have display pieces; a dresser and shelves and in addition a unit that is in sections and fits around a radiator…..the room that houses these items is currently the dining room but in the next few months it will become a kitchen, while what is now the kitchen will be extended and become a dining/family room……
The problem is that I currently have 3 walls for display, but somehow I’ll only have two in the new extension (how did that happen?) This will mean that I have to make some hard choices and /or rotate displays…….
My parents gave me the Pornic birds, and the dresser was made to fit them, not the other way around, so they are a definite

I have three sections of Desvres…… then there are some Broderie items, some Normandy décor and some pieces by Brisson, and of course there are the fish…..and so we go on… does anyone have any tips for prioritizing ?

One guest commented on the elderly Breton lady on the right (she sits on our dresser over seeing the dining table) that he thought she could 'sour milk'!!!
I guess she'll be souring milk in the new extension too -

The little girl holding the bird (on the far left of the picture below) is much restored but we love her just the same. For some years we rather thought that she was eyeing that bird up for her dinner but a lady at a fair in Pont Aven corrected us and told us that she is just talking to him.....phew !!!

PS. In each Quimper Club Journal we feature a form or décor – this time it’s the turn of Ivoire Corbeille décor: please send your photos (jpegs preferably)for inclusion in the Summer Spring issue - many thanks…

Saturday, 23 January 2010

In the Gay S

The Petit Breton is probably the best known of Quimper designs; its birth is rather a mystery, it has never truly been decided which factory came up with the design, HB or Porquier, but it has been a best seller for a hundred years or more and is much imitated. It was particularly popular with tourists who came to Quimper after the railway arrived in town.

I have to say that I didn’t realise I had quite so many items in this décor; there are more than I thought! These days I am quite fussy about the painting of the figures, especially the faces which sometimes have quite sharp features…..
It seems to me that nearly every form made by the faienceries is available decorated with this motif.

My very first piece of Quimper was an ordinary little tumbler which at the time I thought was perhaps for a toothbrush in the bathroom, my ‘treasure’ was found on the table of a French dealer at the Benson fair (already mentioned in a previous post).

You can tell I was a complete novice – I paid too much and didn’t even notice the hairline, later I realised that the piece is part of a cider set and probably came with a tray, a jug and other tumblers. It is marked HB, although that meant nothing to me at the time. I later added the little ramekin and a small dish with a handle from the same source… but this was over a period of months……
Some how I acquired this boat shaped piece, perhaps in a mixed lot at an auction, it’s a gravy separator.

We have several of these mainly because as you see one spout has an ‘M’ for Maigre which means ‘lean’ and the opposite side has a ‘G’ for Gras which means ‘fat’.

However, as G is my initial and M is my husband's this form holds a special place in our affections!

Acquiring the little teapot with the man on one side and woman on the other, gave me a unique opportunity. I used to occasionally go to an auction held in historic Littlecote House.

The auction house was given the task of selling a huge selection of miniature teapots, how or why this teapot was termed as ‘miniature’ I’m not sure however there it was.
There was a special opportunity to attend a talk about the pots, given by Henry Sandon a very well respected ceramics expert – it was a very informative humorous talk and hugely enjoyable.

On the day of the actual auction my heart sank when I spotted Valerie Howard (a renowned Quimper expert who owned an upscale shop in Kensington Church Street) in the room, luckily for me she didn’t have Quimper on her shopping list on that occasion, she had gathered her tiny teapots into her wicker basket and was on her way back to London before the Quimper teapot came up – sadly that was to be last time I saw her.

The glass plates were a gift from a Club friend.

We had met virtually via eBay, she in Virginia, me in the south of England, and later arranged to meet 'in real life', at an antique fair at Sandown Park race course, when her husband was in London for business.

I remember wearing an exceptionally bright yellow waterproof coat so that she could identify me!

Several years later she returned with her husband, and together with another Q Club member, we attended an exhibition of Art Deco style at the V&A and later went to Newark (the UK’s biggest fair).
This was when I was given the plates however, I’m not sure she would have been so generous if she had first been to the guest house I had chosen – it was freshly decorated and on a farm, it looked fine – but in fact the walls of my friends room were covered with insects and the other room which had two single beds, was tiny and the beds had been made up with new but unwashed bedding – anytime either of us turned over, it crackled!
It was very hot and we dare not open the window because of the insects. Never again!!
Luckily I’ve been forgiven and I’ve visited all these friends several times since….

PS. In the UK it is Burns night which means that those of Scottish descent often celebrate the life of Robert (Rabbi) Burns. This usually means 'enjoying' a supper of Haggis, neeps and tatties, followed by a wee dram - in other words the offal from a sheep minced and mixed and oatmeal and suet plus seasoning, then boiled in the sheeps stomach for three hours and served with swede or yellow turnip and potatoes.

I think I'll skip the main course and go straight to the 'wee dram' a glass of Scottish whisky !

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Q and A Friday

This week we have a question from Sarah about two lovely Malicorne (Leroy-Dubois) pieces.

She writes : I'm curious if this form has a specific name and also an explanation about the purpose of the single spout and shape, though I assume the shape is simple an artistic presentation if in fact these are meant for calvados. Of course one is in the shape of a pear. Is there a pear equivalent to calvados? The pear shape has a small hole at the top. I wonder if this is to help the flow. That is why I'm puzzled about this form. Does the liquid pour easily?

It seems odd to me that you should have to fill up the container through the spout ?

Can anyone help with some information ?

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

White Gay S.

I'm linking to White Wednesday @ Kathleen's wonderful blog Faded Charm, please do visit Kathleen and all the other participants joining in this lovely meme today.

I have heard of one collector of Quimper who only has white or blanc faience, but I have just this one piece.
The white pieces are still made today – look here for a selection.
The plain white enamel certainly lets one really appreciate the lines of the form.

The piece above is ‘Jeune Bigouden’ by Rene Quillivic. I like it because of feeling of movement, it seems he might step off of my shelf any moment! He has a certain ‘joie de vivre’ which some of Quillivics other figurals lack, often the stance or expression is somber or the head is tilted down……never the less I would like either ‘Jeune fille de Plouhinec’ or ‘Jeune Fille au doight dans la bouche’ to accompany him – for now he has to make do with a black cat (more about that later)
Rene Quillivic was born in Plouhinec, Brittany in 1879. He first worked as a fisherman but after a bad storm in which he came close to losing his life he took up woodworking. Inspired by the fine carving he was doing on furniture he went on to study art and won a scholarship to the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
As well as producing faience figurals he also designed decors for plates which are quite distinctive and often inspired by tradition Breton motifs. Quillivic is also revered as a sculptor and produced several War Memorials in Finistere. He died in Paris during 1969
The black cat is by a contemporary artist Odile Landry who has also produced a cat sleeping

In the back ground are some older paintings on parchment which I have had re framed…..they are nicely done but some of those ladies look quite fierce!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Blue and Gay S

Today in honor of Blue Monday hosted by the ever gracious Smiling Sally I’m showing you some of the Blue items from my collection…..

The first is the Cockerel barber bowl which I found in a village not far from Quimper: Rosporden.
The brocante there was a regular stop for us and over the years we have found some good pieces. We used to drive off the ferry, breakfast in St Malo then head for Rosporden for lunch.
Refreshed we’d make our way to the brocante just in time for the owner to open. Perfect!
This piece is marked HB Quimper and shows every sign of being genuine, but this form is much reproduced, if you buy one of these be careful - one tell tale sign of a reproduction is a kind of crackle in the glaze, but when you examine it carefully the lines are quite even and grey….beware…

The next piece is also a bird, but it couldn’t be more different –it’s rather a comical duck – this cute little plate was probably part of a child’s tea set. I found this piece in Concorde, MA. and its humour just appealed to me.

The little dishes below were sold to me as salts, but if they are indeed salts they are very shallow, I just like their shabby chic look.

The jug was a buy from a local fair in a village called Benson. (Benson has an RAF base and a weather station, when you hear that temperatures in the UK have plummeted, the data has often been gathered at Benson… recently temperatures there dropped to minus 18 which for the UK was remarkable.)
I’m not sure if the jug was ever intended to be quite so blue, perhaps it had something to do with the firing which would have been in a kiln fired by wood, rather than today’s far more controllable electricity.

So what about Green?
One of the great things about purchasing these items or similar antiques, is that they are pre-owned; they don’t have to be manufactured and shipped thousands of miles, no more of the earth’s resources are used, no further material extracted…no carbon foot print!
With care these items will last hundreds of years. The cockerel and the duck have probably had a couple of owners before me, the little plates and jug even more, (they are already ‘old age pensioners’ or ‘seniors’) hopefully they’ll go on to have owners after me……we are being ‘Green’; we are recycling treasures and I for one couldn’t be happier about it !

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Q and A Friday

Welcome to the second Q&A Friday!

Whether you are an experienced collector or a novice just starting out; from time to time we all have questions about Quimper and related faience.

This is an opportunity to pose a question, no matter what (although I’m sorry, we cannot help with valuations).Beginners are very welcome,we all started somewhere. Your questions can be about anything French faience related at all. Questions (and answers) are welcome from everyone whether you are a Quimper Club member or not. We will all do our very best to find the answer.
We’ll be repeating this opportunity on a weekly basis – Friday is Q&A day
Questions: please post your Questions in the comments section of this post or alternatively send them to You can also send photographs (jpegs) to this email address.

This week we have a question from Cerelle about the manufacture of this lovely Salamander – does anyone recognise the mark?
Could it perhaps be Nevers? Louis Glanchar? And if so do we know anything about him

Or are we on the wrong track ?

Answers: If you think you may know the answer to a Question posted here please post in the comments section or email

Many thanks!

PS. Doris has sent this picture which is of a Moustier mark and indicates the work of Olerys Laugier - could this be it ?

Monday, 11 January 2010

Bargain Time Gay S

At first glance it may seem that these pieces have nothing in common, apart from all being of Quimper manufacture, but they all come under the heading of bargains and show that sometimes if you keep your eyes open you can find things at very reasonable prices

For 3 or More Tuesday hosted by Tam @The Gypsy's Corner and Vintage Thingie Thursday a great meme found over at The Colorado Lady Suzanne's place,

I wanted to show you some of my collection of vintage pieces.

Please do go and visit these great blogs to discover more interesting collections and vintage items.

I have had the little Keraluc figure, above, for several years. I found her at a flea market and bought her from a couple of stall holders I knew very well (and they knew I collected Quimper). They always had interesting but cheap items so they were a magnet for the dealers. This little lady was on the top shelf of their display – when I asked to see her the stall holder admired her but assured me she was Greek, he had been to Greece for a holiday and remembered ‘Ker’ is used in the Greek language. The price was just £1. The amusing thing was that no matter what I said the dealer maintained his stance – he just never believed that Keraluc has anything to do with Quimper…

The shell dish I found this year: there is an antique centre about a mile away which is situated in the premises of an old abattoir, if you look up you can see it still has all the rails and hooks. It’s not very upscale but one dealer does like to sell French items and on this particular day we had found an old French glass kitchen measure (my husband has a small collection of old glass measures). I went to the office to pay and my husband spotted the little dish, it was filthy and covered in dust but it was only £5 and I just couldn’t leave it there, unloved. I just had to rescue it!
The décor is Ivoire Corbeille (we will be featuring this décor in the Clubs Spring/Summer Journal so please contribute photo's if you have any) and I suspect the lady is from Normandy.

The third piece we found recently in the local Oxfam (charity) shop, at just 99p we could hardly pass it by, could we? And it has been a useful serving piece over Christmas.

The fourth piece was more of a struggle to obtain. Again it’s a flea market purchase.

One dealer (who I knew from his other auction house job) had a specific routine – he stood in the middle of a square of tables and as he unpacked his boxes we used to grab what we were interested in, then when he had finished he would come to each of us and price our pile of items and we’d have a little haggle – when he got to know you he would often try to make sure you got first chance of anything in your area of interest – this being a blue plate it was ‘given’ to the lady who specialised in blue plates. Sometimes things would be rejected as too dear or damaged, but the ‘blue plate lady’ wanted this piece so she paid £5. About a month later I offered her 100% profit and the plate was mine……a good price for an Yvain piece!