Monday, 31 May 2010

N. S. & S. HB Quimper. Do you know the name of the store??

We were recently asked by a fledgling collector if we could tell her more about a small HB Quimper jug that had been passed down through her family.

She had always understood that it was bought by her grandmother at Macy's department store in the1930's.
However, a quick glance told me that it wasn't a piece from that department store as it didn't have the Macy's star mark that they used.

In the December 2006 issue of the QCI Journal there is a very interesting piece about the many department stores that commissioned Quimper items and there I found photographs of a yellow plate decorated with a rooster and a small dish with a variation of the Petit Breton decor.
Both of these pieces bear the same mark as the jug.

In the 1930's the Grand Maison de la Hubaudiere did create pieces marked with the letters N. S.& S. but which store they were destined for is information no longer available and has baffled Quimper experts and collectors for years.
If you can shed any light on this mark please leave a comment, I know that not only the jug's owner but many other Quimpernuts would be very happy indeed to have this mystery solved once and for all..

Friday, 28 May 2010

Savannah Book Review.

There seems to be a bit of a book review vibe going on with me this month so I feel it might be the time to share some "insider information" with QCI members planning on attending the annual meeting this October in Savannah.
My co-host Nina and I have, during the course of our 18 month long meeting planning journey, acquired several new books for our shelves.
The first book I'd like to tell you about is "More than Mercer House: Savannah's Jim Williams & His Southern Houses" by Dr. Dorothy Williams Kingery.

Jim Williams was one of Savannah's earliest champions and a private restorationalist. Beginning in 1955 when only 25 years old he restored over 50 houses in Savannah, Georgia and South Carolina over the next 35 years.
The book's flyleaf has this description:
"Mr Williams wrote a series of essays about the great impact that these special houses had on his life. Using these essays as a guide, this book takes its readers on a journey. Along the way we learn about Savannah's early restoration movement  and the critical period when many fine houses were lost. We visit some of the houses that Jim saved."
One of the finest houses that Jim Williams saved was Mercer House, a restoration that took two years.
Construction on Mercer House, situated on Monterey Square one of Savannah's prettiest, was begun in 1860 by General Hugh Weedon Mercer the great grandfather of the songwriter Johnny Mercer.
After the Civil War, circa 1868 the house was completed by it's new owner John Wilder.
Despite his oustanding career in preserving Savannah's Historic houses Jim Williams is possibly more well known for being the only person in the state of Georgia ever to be tried four times for the same crime - the alleged murder on May 2, 1981 of his assistant, Danny Lewis Hansford, in Williams's home, Mercer House.
He was finally acquitted of the charge and continued to live at Mercer House until his death in January 1990.

I'm sure some of you will already have read my second recommendation; "Midnight In The Garden Of Good and Evil" by John Berendt, aka "the Savannah book" a non-fiction account of this final chapter in the history of Mercer House and it's owner.
My third and final choice is "Savannah Style Mystery and Manners" by author Susan Sully, foreword written by MITGOGAE author John Berendt.

The book features 20 Historic houses such as the Second Empire Baroque Thomas Levy House

and the Lebanon Plantation.

QCI members and their invited guests will have the opportunity to tour both of these beautiful homes in October.
John Duncan owner of the Thomas Levy House sitting on the bed which previously belonged to Serena Dawes and now stands in his own bedroom.

In MITGOGAE John Berendt describes how after her husband Simon Dawes accidentally shot himself in the head Serena, (who Cecil Beaton had called "one of the most perfect natural beauties I've ever photographed") "spent most of her day in bed, holding court, drinking martinis and pink ladies, and playing with her white toy poodle, Lulu".

John Duncan will be a guest speaker at the QCI Meeting, he and his wife Ginger both had small roles in the movie of the book, produced by Clint Eastwood.
Here he is with actor John Cusack who played the part of author John Berendt.

QCI Meeting Update: the Registration Materials are in the mail!! That's right, Club Secretary Laverne mailed out all the necessary documents to all QCI members at the beginning of the week and they should be with you shortly.
If you have any queries regarding the meeting you can email your co-hosts at this address:
and we will do our very best to help.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

CA, A French Faïence Breakthrough by Millicent Mali.

Recently I blogged about Millicent Mali and the Old Quimper Review magazine, click on the link if you missed seeing that post.
One of the commenters mentioned Milli's second book: CA, A French Faïence Breakthrough.
CA bell, decorated with the armorial shield of Brest, Brittany.
Although I am not a dedicated collector of CA,  I have just three pieces, I do admire it's country charm.
The fleur de lys is one of my favourite decors.
CA faïence whilst not being as pretty (in my eyes) as Quimper is very charming, I particularly like the  armorial pieces decorated with French provincial town shields.

CA cruchon pot with cover, decorated with the shield of Brest, Brittany.

Milli's CA book has been a huge help in deciphering the emblems on my pieces, especially the unmarked sauce boat with attached underplate which is not signed.
"we were surprised to find CA pieces relating to the province of Lorraine. Town shields from this eastern province were portrayed along with the thistle motif, doves and the double barred cross of Lorraine".
I know of several QCI members who also collect CA and are always searching for unusual pieces.
The front cover of the book shows a CA lantern with a clown about to emerge from inside and this a much sought after piece.
Form 995, a covered box in the shape of Henri IV hat, is also on quite a few wish lists, I believe.
Are you a lover of CA? Tell us about your favourite piece, is it already in your collection or are you still searching?

Sunday, 16 May 2010

An Esthetic Feast seconda Trudi E

Our next stop was the town of Amalfi, which is at the end of a spectacular 40 km drive along the narrow winding Amalfi coast road, where the mountains drop precipitously into the sea.

By now we were on an esthetic overload. There was another elaborate duomo, with its cloister in the central square accented by numerous beautiful fountains. In addition there was an extensive array of detailed painted tile murals depicting local scenes.
Amalfi is also known for its fine hand made paper, which has been produced since the 12th C.
Our last visit was to the magical mountain top village of Ravello. It is a terraced pedestrian village surrounded by gardens, citrus groves and vineyards.
There are many splendid 11th & 12th century villas, which have been restored and converted into luxury hotels. It too has attracted many artists and craftsman, and is a favorite vacation destination for celebrities.

This part of the world is a treasure trove of natural and man made beauty. The steep cliffs, perched villages, terraces of citrus fruits, vineyards and the gorgeous buildings adorned with hand painted tiles and frescos make this a feast for ones esthetic senses.
Needless to say, the friendly locals and fabulous food is just one more reason to visit.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

An Esthetic Feast: prima Trudi E.

Deviating slightly from the subject of French faience todays blog is from our guest blogger, QCI member, Trudi and her subject: Italian ceramic tiles.

This spring our trip from our French home started on the small Italian island of Capri, which is 5 km from the mainland on the South side of the Bay of Naples. It has been a celebrated beauty spot and resort for artists, writers and celebrities since the later half of the 19th Century, and has inspired many of their works.

Upon arriving in Capri, after a one hour ferry from Naples, we experienced the first of its very narrow, steep and windy roads on route to our B&B in the small hilltop village of Anacapri.
We were greeted by panoramic views of the bay and a gorgeous sunset.

The next day we were pleasantly surprised to discover that, in addition to the dramatic scenery and delicious food, there were many citrus groves of large lemons and oranges growing on mountainside terraces next to numerous grape arbors. We enjoyed tasting an array of these delicious fruits.
In addition to an abundance of commercial pottery, we were delighted to see how prolific their original and detailed painted ceramic tiles were used to create beautiful wall murals, signs and benches.

After leaving Capri on a small private boat, we traveled by sea along the rugged and scenic Amalfi coast. We stopped at several grottos, where the water and the reflection of light created a kaleidoscope of dramatic color.
Within an hour we arrived at our next port in the small and picturesque town of Positano.
It is perched on the face of a mountain with colorful buildings stacked in tiers on the cliffs, and hundreds of steep stairs instead of streets.
Our first visual delight was the Majolica multicolored tile dome of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta.

This tourist destination was featured in several movies, most recently in “Under the Tuscan Sun”.

From here one can take a one hour side trip to Pompeii by public transportation.
Our next stop was Praiano, a 20 minute car ride from Positano.

In this little village is the Church of San Luca Evangelista, with its dome decorated with the local Vietri multicolored Majolica tiles and an elaborate painted tile floor.

I hope you have enjoyed this first part of our journey and will join me again soon for the seconda parte.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Millicent S. Mali and the Old Quimper Review.

When I first discovered Quimper faience at an auction in Normandy I knew nothing about the subject, just that I liked it!
Isn't that how most collections begin?
The first Quimper reference book that I purchased was "French Faience: Fantaisie Et Populaire of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries" by Millicent S. Mali and I was reminded of this when a close friend, a relative Quimper newbie, recently asked me to recommend a book to help her with her fledgling collection.
For 15 years, Millicent also wrote and published the OLD QUIMPER REVIEW, a magazine highlighting faience factories, decors, traditions and locations in France.
For example in the July 1990 issue we learn about an important event that influenced the future of Quimper production: the appearance of the Breton man and woman and the representation of the drawings of Perrin and Lalaisse, on faience. The Grand Maison HB created a typically regional product which delighted the clientele.The patterns became very popular and were imitated by the Malicorne faienceries, among others.
I'm sure that the Q collectors amongst you will be able to tell which of the plates in my two mosaics are from the Grande Maison de la Hubaudiere and which one is Malicorne.

However, without advice from experts such as Milli how easy would it be to tell the difference, without checking the signature marks on the back?
As luck has it my friend is now also a member of the QCI and I was able to point her in the direction of the QCI's new Ning Network where she will be able to find information on purchasing back issues of the OQR.
Milli is making these available at a special price, but only for QCI members.

So, if being eligible to attend the Annual Meeting in Savannah later this year wasn't enough incentive to make you join QCI, this great offer from Milli should do the trick!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The Olde Pink House Restaurant and Planters Tavern, Reynolds Square, Savannah. GA.

On the evening before the QCI Savannah meeting begins Nina & I would like to suggest that any members who have already arrived in town, join us for dinner at the Olde Pink House.
To help you decide; a little history and a taster menu!
A National Monument; Savannah's stately Georgian Mansion facing Reynolds Square has an exciting history:
1771, the opening of the Habersham House- later called the Olde Pink House when the soft native brick begn to bleed through the plastered walls and mysteriously changed the colour of the Habersham House from white to Jamaican pink.
Built on land granted by the crown of England, James Habersham Jr. lived in this mansion from 1771 to 1800. This wealthy planter's home held many secret meetings which helped secure the independence of the 13 colonies from England.
In 1811 the Old Pink House became the Planter's Bank, the first bank in Georgia.
The Halls of the Habersham House opened to military Generals after Sherman presented the city of Savannah as a Christmas gift to President Lincoln and General York set up his headquarters in the Olde Pink Mansion.
The house changed hands many times after the War between the States - attorney's office, bookstore, colonial tea room, and suffered from neglect and decay.
In 1992 the William Balish Family, native Charlestonians, purchased the Habersham House and all its ghosts and began a major project to remove the decaying walls, restore the sagging building, reseach its past and reconstruct it to its original grandeur; thus beginning a new era for this grand old house.
(Text taken from Habersham House - history revisited, courtesy of the Olde Pink House Restaurant and Planters Tavern)
Sadly I don't have any photo's of the interior of the Olde Pink House but such is the wonder of blogland that recently Yvonne @ Stone Gable blogged about The Olde Pink House for Pink Saturday, click on the link for some wonderful photo's of the dining rooms.
The Olde Pink House: Sample Signature menu.

First Course Choice:
Low Country She Crab Soup, laced with Golden Sherry.
Fried Green Tomato BLT Salad, buttermilk thyme dressing.

Entree Course Choice:
Filet Mignon, green peppercorn demi glace.
Blue Crab Stuffed Black Grouper, white wine lemon pan sauce.
Bourbon Molasses Grilled Pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes & pecan vanilla butter.
Crispy Scored Flounder, apricot shallot glaze.

Dessert Choice:
Praline Almond Sorbet.
Chocolate Oblivion Torte.
Raspberry Sorbet.

Roger & I had the pleasure of lunching at the Olde Pink House with Nina & Tom when visiting Savannah last March and I can recommend the Fried Green Tomato BLT and each and every one of the desserts!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Sojourn in Savannah: QCI Annual Meeting 2010.

Visitors to our blog who are also members of the QCI will already be aware that the 2010 Annual Meeting will be taking place this year October 24th thru 27th in Savannah GA.
As one of the co - hosts, it is going to be my pleasure to blog this month about the upcoming meeting and tell everyone about the events we have planned, places to go & people to see!
Since they live part of the year in the vicinity of Savannah my co - host Nina and her husband Tom have been very busy for the past several months, talking to service providers and visiting locations suitable for our group.
Many miles have been travelled, much Starbucks coffee has been consumed and much walking has been done! There have been times however when I would have happily traded the quiet life in Normandy to have visited some of the wonderful houses and museums with them. I shall be sharing their tales and photographs with you during the coming weeks.
To assist her with this humungous task, Nina has gathered together a small team of fellow volunteers and what is so great about this little gang is that they are virtually all QCI newbies.
Some of their collections, with one exception, are what you might call "fledgling" and so we came up with the idea of showcasing these, small but perfectly formed, collections by gathering them all together and they will be on display when we visit Moss Creek Plantation during our "on the bus" bonus day.
Our base for the meeting is the beautifully restored Hilton Savannah DeSoto Hotel and the meeting will officially begin there with the Meet & Greet on Sunday evening, 24th October.
However, for those who arrive in town ahead of Sunday we have arranged a couple of extra treats; dinner at The Olde Pink House on Saturday evening and a Riverboat Luncheon Cruise on Sunday afternoon.
We really plan on spoiling eveyone with Savannah's special brand of warm hospitality and Southern charm.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

See You At The Meeting!

10th Anniversary Quimper Club International Commemorative Plate

Thank you very much to all the members who have made this club what it is today. An example of this is the wonderful plate created above. I feel very fortunate to be a part of it. I look forward to reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones in Savannah.

The above commemorative plate features beautiful traditional Malicorne colors, border and blason, the special QCI logo was created for the 2002 Dallas plate, also made by Malicorne, a Lone Star and the name of every Annual Meeting "host" city since 1999.