Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Playing dish detective

Months ago, I was browsing items on eBay and came across a cup and saucer design I would occasionally see in the antique malls. It was called "The Old Curiosity Shop" by Royal China, and I decided I would like to have a cup and saucer in the pattern. The prices on eBay were plenty cheap, but shipping has gone up so much you have to add another $7-$10 to whatever price you find. So, I waited. And the wait was worth it, because over the weekend I found this set for $2.10 at a going-out-of-business antique mall.

The saucer features a design of a teapot, and that's why I wanted this set. I need more cups and saucers like I need a hole in the head, but I have a special affection for items with teawares in the design, so this is one of those "double duty" pieces: it both serves and celebrates tea! Besides, I like the idea of a dinnerware pattern featuring images from an old "Curiosity Shop."

Interestingly, I got home and realized my pieces were unmarked, and I could no longer remember the name of the pattern. I got on eBay and typed in "Old Antique Shop" but that wasn't it. I typed in "green cup and saucer" and came up with some pretty pieces but not my cup and saucer. I think it was when I hit on "green saucer teapot" that I came upon "The Old Curiosity Shop." I just love trying to play Nancy Drew with old pieces. I bought an unmarked oval platter at an estate sale for $1 last week and googled and eBayed until I discovered it was the Marcrest "Swiss Alpine" pattern. One day I suppose I'll actually buy a book about makers' marks and hallmarks, but until then, do you have any tips on how you investigate vintage finds?


  1. This particular design was created by Gordon Parker in the 1950's. I found a relationship with these sorts of dishes and Sears. In searching information on Gordon Parker I did come up with a current link:
    which includes a phone number. There is a connection between this individual and Sears as well. This may be a son, carrying on the family business of art. I did not join to contact, and I did not call...however, for anyone interested, this might provide a good lead....I have found that the teapot shows up on tumblers, as well...

  2. Oh! Angela, seeing your recent teacup and saucer acquisition brought back tons of memories. My mom used these in our home as everyday dishes when I was growing up. As I recall she got them at the corner A & P grocery store when each week different pieces were available until the whole set was completed. It seems to me she sold them in a garage sale when they retired and moved to Florida in 1979. Thanks for the memory!

  3. What a fun teacup and saucer story (including the comments)!!

  4. Great find! Now I will be keeping my eyes out for The Old Curiosity Shop teacups. I am not good at searching out pattern information. The library has been the best source.

  5. I think the best way these days is google but it really can take a long time to find info and I wouldn't always take it as gospel.
    I think the A & P grocery store story is really interesting. I know things like that used to be very common. I remember my grandmother getting cups and saucers out of boxes of powdered soap. I remember helping her dig them out. It was like digging for buried treasure. I think it was a wheat pattern. She had a whole set. I think we would be surprised if we learned the history of some of these old patterns.

  6. That is an interesting cup and saucer. I like the shape of the teapot.

    I guess I search the same way you do on Google and ebay and sites that list hallmarks, etc.


Thanks so much for taking time to leave a comment! It makes my day to hear from readers!