Monday, September 27, 2010

Ode to Sophie

"My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains My sense...." John Keats,1819
Ode to a Nightingale

Today I mourn a friend. Her name was Sophie and she no longer walks, as was her great passion. She was called to sleep, and rest she will. Ninety eight years young, and blessed with a Great grand-daughter born on her birthday!...So lucky, so very lucky. Her stories enriched my life with tales of times from long ago. I will remember how very hard she worked; I will remember how very much she loved strawberries.... I will miss you, Sophie.

The last Monday of each month will introduce a new column called Ode to whereby I highlight someone or something inspirational. It may be a series of photos, art work, food delights, just about anything interesting. I would love to have input, my devoted readers, and I welcome your suggestions for posts. Interested in being part of this feature? e-mail me!

Monday, September 20, 2010

N is for Nippon Porcelain

The name Nippon from the Chinese phrase 'the source of the sun', is synonymous with elegant porcelain manufactured in Japan for export, from the years 1891 through 1921. Previous to 1891, items were marked with Japanese characters, or not marked at all. Until 1853, the islands of Japan were virtually secluded from the world when Commander Matthew Perry, U.S.N., arrived and negotiated trade agreements. In 1891 the McKinley Tariff Act required country of origin marks on all items imported to the U.S. The Japanese government hired foreign experts to train their artists in the European style popular at the time. These items were strictly for export to the Western world, hand painted in ornate fashion, considered distasteful to the Japanese. Simple 'Nippon' back stamp markings were used until 1921, when they were replaced with dozens of different 'Nippon' marks representing countless porcelain manufacturers from Japan. The 'M' wreath back stamp signifies the predecessor to Noritake china which was used from the 1920's through the 1930's. After 1941 most back stamps read 'Japan', 'Made in Japan', and 'Made in Occupied Japan' (during WWII).

Assembly line techniques ensured almost a limitless capacity for production as items were made and sold inexpensively. Shops were set up in New York City by the Noritake Co., employing artisans specializing in hand painting techniques on porcelain. To this day, Nippon remains highly collectible due to its unique beauty and affordability. Grace a table with a lovely piece or two and you will see how very special it is!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Nature Rules

"Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better." - Albert Einstein, (1879-1955), physicist, philosopher, author

Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio glaucas) on Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Crane Beach, The Trustees of Reservations, 1234 acres of importance for threatened Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)
Cape Cod National Seashore, U.S. Park Service, 43,604 acres of shoreline and upland landscape
Horseshoe Crab (Limulus polyphemus) molt
Narragansett Bay
Humpback Whale (Meggptera novaengliae) feeding in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Farewell summer! You will be missed...

Monday, September 6, 2010

M is for McCoy

In 1899 the J.W. McCoy Pottery Co. was established in Roseville, OH, joining a dozen other notable potteries in operation at that time. By April 1910, Nelson McCoy and his father J.W. formed the Nelson McCoy Sanitary Stoneware Co., a utilitarian line of stoneware for household use. As products evolved, in 1911, George Brush became the General Manager and major shareholder in the company, changing the name to Brush-McCoy Pottery Co. Pots and vases with blended glazes in earth tones of brown and green were designed with lovely organic forms of leaves, berries and flowers in keeping with the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th Century. Aesthetics became a priority, coupled with utility and function.

Countless marks were used to distinguish McCoy pottery during its 90 year history. From simply 'McCoy", to 'NM', to 'BRUSH' to 'USA' to no mark at all (paper labels were used at one time). Marks were originally incised, as well as embossed on the bottom of a piece. In 1967 Mt. Clemens Pottery purchased Nelson McCoy until 1974 when Lancaster Colony Corporation (LCC) took over, until it closed its doors forever, in 1987. There is nothing so sweet as a little McCoy pot filled with an African violet to brighten up a windowsill and make your day a little more beautiful. Happy Hunting!

Willow pattern, 1916
Basket Weave pattern, 1950's
Leaves and Hobnail pattern, 1950's
Windowpane & Rose pattern, 1950's (green)
Cornucopia pattern vase, early date unknown
Brush-McCoy 'Vellum Glaze', 1930's
Butterfly pattern bulb vase, 1940's
Daisy pattern, 1940's - 1950's
Brush-McCoy 'Vellum Glaze' vases, 1930's

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