Collecting jugs

25 October 2015


What is it about a jug that makes me go over and look if I am in someone’s home or pick it up and run my hands over its form if I am in a shop? Alas that’s all I do now when I see a beautiful jug for sale. I have at least a dozen jugs in my collection – from elegant Queen Anne and Royal Albert, to stylish Susie Cooper, to folksy Crown Lynn and bright mass-produced modern. No-one needs twelve jugs and there is no room in the cupboards for more. So now I just look and enjoy, then move on.

An online shop, which sells retro kitchenware, claims jugs are collectible because of “the wide variety of shapes are visually appealing –  from tall and sleek to curvy and round”. They are also useful. I use mine for the usual functions like pouring water or for milk on a tray with the tea. I also put them on a shelf where they look decorative or on a desk where they are ideal for holding pens and pencils. But I really like using them as vases. One striking yellow and green jug looks stunning filled with daffodils. And I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from looking at them.

The whole notion of collecting china is a bit odd, particularly when one collects disparate items simply because one likes them rather than for their monetary value and eventual financial gain. One cannot use very valuable china for the purpose it was made because it might crack or break and it certainly can’t be put in the dishwasher.

The favourites in my modest china collection are definitely the Susie Cooper items. I like their shapes, which are still surprisingly modern, and the hand-painted designs. I also like Susie Cooper’s story and her reasons for creating stylish but affordable tableware in a long career that lasted from the 1920s till the 1980s.
“When I started there was nothing available between fine china that was very expensive and ordinary china that was very poor. I wanted to create nice things for people who had taste, but not the money to satisfy it.”
It is ironic then that early Susie Cooper pieces now sell for large sums at auction.

To honour Susie Cooper’s memory, I use her cups, plates and bowls, particularly when I have friends over for tea or dinner. One friend commented that the tea tasted better out of one of those cups. Hand washing the beautiful things afterwards is pleasurable though I should hate to break anything! I always have some on display and change them frequently so that I can enjoy the shapes, patterns and subtle colours. I like to think it’s because I have taste. However, it’s possibly a little unusual that I cannot go past a display of china anywhere without at least having a good look.

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