Very few of us today use fancy china more than one or two times a year. I, unfortunately, fall into that category and find that I much prefer to use my everyday “heartier” dishes. While this may be the case with many of us today, it is fun to look back and notice that this wasn’t always the case. Around the late 1880’s using china on a daily basis was the norm, however there began to be a switch around the 1920’s to embracing more humble forms of pottery for the more simpler meals of the day. For example, the following excerpt describes the appropriate times and locations to use more simple pottery.
“A third class of tableware is “pottery.” It is , as a rule, the least carefully, and therefore the least expensively, made tableware…We speak of the simple “tea-room” variety, gay in color and elemental as to decorate, such as all are familiar with. Some of our readers may have collected pieces of such pottery when traveling in various parts of the world and know that it is the type of earthenware used by peasants, and for this reason the simple designs are often called “peasant patterns.” Peasant patterns are seen on earthenware also, and because appropriate for use in the simplest homes called also “cottage” patterns. If the house or apartment is as simple as the pottery (it may be so and yet beautiful) then you may use this ware for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In some homes, pottery is appropriate for breakfast and lunch and tea, but the dinner table may call for more formal china.”
– excerpt from Be Your Own Decorator by Emily Burbank, 1922
When I read this, I imagine two different types of pottery. One earthy, rustic, and displayed on a shelf like this:
Image from deja-vu
And the other, bright, bold and simple!
See current samples of Cornish Ware.
Regardless of which way you envision these “cottage” dishes, I love the idea that they have their place in the realm of tableware. That just because they are “simple” it doesn’t mean they are any less special at meal time.
Cover Photo by New Home Interior Design