Imagine if you could bring your summer garden indoors to enjoy the brightly colored flowers year round. While that may not be possible, having a chintz china collection lets you do the next best thing.
Known for their delicate “all-over” floral designs (although there are some wonderful fruit patterns as well), these vintage porcelain pieces are like paintings for your table.
Their bright colors will add cheer to any meal, from breakfast to dinner. (My weekend guests feel very honored when I serve them breakfast on my sunny yellow, flower-filled Welbeck dishes by Royal Winton.)
Having the boss, a prospective client or the in-laws over for dinner? A table covered in a garden of chintz serving pieces is sure to impress.
And if you still need another reason to start collecting chintz, here’s one that I ascribe to: If cooking is not your strong suit, by setting your table with chintz pieces your guests may not remember your meal, but they will surely remember the dishes!
History: Named for the floral fabric pattern, the height of chintz production was in the 1920s through the 1960s at potteries, the most prolific ones being in Staffordshire, England. The serving pieces were originally sold for only a few dollars apiece in department stores in the United States.
Market appeal: Chintz dishes are among the desirable collectibles that are as beautiful as they are utilitarian. They are sought-after by collectors of such categories as vintage, porcelain, floral, serveware and English pottery as well as collectors of pre- and post-war memorabilia.
Patterns and makers: The pattern names are as wide-ranging as their designs, from the delicate Sweet Pea to the dramatic Majestic. And yes, there is even one called Floral Feast. Among the most popular and valued are pieces designed by Royal Winton (formerly Grimwades, Ltd.); James Kent, Ltd.; Shelley Potteries Ltd. and Johnson Brothers Ltd.
Pricing: Depending on whether it’s authentic or a reproduction and the venue where it was purchased, prices can range from $25 to thousands for a larger piece.
Where to find them: Chintzware can be difficult to find unless you go to a venue such as an antiques store, estate sale or auction, so visit websites that sell them, which you can find by doing a simple search using the term “chintz china.” You can find some good deals on pieces at online auction sites such as eBay.
How to display them: When entertaining, a simple but well-made white tablecloth is the best canvas to set off the colorful dishes. As decoration, a grouping of dishes in various patterns is a beautiful way to liven up a white wall or they can be the focal point of a table vignette. They are often placed on plate racks, on shelves or in cabinets. However you display them, they are guaranteed to be conversation pieces.
Written by Meryl Schoenbaum
Photography by Jickie Torres