Monday, July 30, 2012

A Goodly Godly Vase

Several weekends ago, while driving into the nearby town, I noticed a yard sale was being held at one of the grand houses in our village.  Even though I was a man on a mission and time was of the essence, I immediately pulled over and jumped out of the car, as this was a sale that was not to be missed!

The house in question has changed hands several times in the years since we've owned Darlington.  It currently belongs to a celebrated New York architect who uses it as a weekend house.  The yard sale was a group sale, organized by the architect and his partner, a former editor at a well-known lifestyle magazine, and their friends.  This was not your typical old-plastic-toy-and-useless-junk yard sale that one sees on weekends in the country these days.  No, it was full of marvelous stuff, all of which was priced to move!

While examining the wares laid out at the sale, I found this Paris Porcelain trumpet-shaped vase on one of the tables.  The vase is from the mid-nineteenth century and is in perfect condition.

In gilt letters it is decorated with the name "JESUS" on one side.  I learned from the sellers that many people had picked up the vase and admired it but couldn't bring themselves to buy it, given their various reactions to its meaning.  Being a fancier and collector of Paris Porcelain, and recognizing that the decoration on the vase was in the spirit of the "Prepare to Meet Thy Maker" Staffordshire plaques from the same era, I scooped up the Jesus vase without a second's thought, paid a mere fifteen dollars for it, and brought it home to Darlington House.  It is a happy, albeit rather unusual, addition to our collection of vases and is an ideal shape for a pretty summer's posey, such as the one in it that I bought at our local farmers market on Saturday from the ladies of Cedar Farm.

Tell me, Dear Reader, do you have any bits of china or porcelain that have sayings or inscriptions upon them?

Photograph by Boy Fenwick


  1. Hello Reggie:
    Wonderful. We should, had the opportunity arisen, have certainly snapped up this 'Jesus' vase which looks extraordinarily pretty filled with summer flowers.

    We are also pleased to read in your reply [previous post] that you have now had much needed rain. Here it continues to be beastly hot with occasional thunder storms giving little in the way of respite.

  2. Thirty years ago, World of Interiors had a short feature on a trendy British potter. The piece I found most arresting was a tall, blue-and-white vase with a motto referring to "the Unbearable Ugliness of the English Working Class."

    (The thing about temptation is knowing when to resist.)

  3. Reggie,
    The vase is beautifully formed and the posey is perfect for it. I love the meaning behind this Staffordshire piece. I personally do not have porcelain finds with any lettering.

    Art by Karena

  4. Dear Reggie,

    Congratulations on your find.

    I do have a dish that belonged to my mother, who kept it on her bedroom bureau. It is a reference to my father, two brother and me, and it says in French, "A father and three sons make four devils for the mother!"

  5. The interpretation tells us so much about the interpretor, right? Because I'm afraid my first thought was that you'd bought a vase emblazoned with an expletive. Not my finest hour.

  6. I wonder if this has some ecclesiastical use, or if it was part of a set. Given your explanation, flower arrangements in it would seem somewhat funereal.

    Lots of utilitarian Chinese objects have mottoes on them, usually of the 'good luck' variety. But for Western items, other than souvenir items or personalized objects like shaving mugs, I have never seen anything quite like this. I can't believe that it wasn't snapped up by the first browser.
    --Road to Parnassus

  7. Well, lucky you--don't you just love running across yard sales of this sort! In my next life I want to cruise the back roads of upstate New York, maybe on my way back from a return trip to Brimfield.

  8. "Jesus Christ" - you have such an eye. It was meant for you and that posey literally brings me to my knees. Alleluia.

  9. I forgot -- I also have a rather pretty faience ashtray, one of a dozen made up in the Twenties for the senior partners in a well-known Manhattan law firm.

    The inscription reads, bon avocat, mauvais voisin.

    To the best of my knowledge, this was just a joke.

  10. That is a perfect vase. So many meanings to infer. Perfect.

  11. I recently fell prey to a vase at anthropologie that says "let them eat cake." As a gardener and one of the 99%, I couldn't resist the temptation. And it's blue and white!

  12. Divine providence at work here Reggie. Posey, plus vase = a holy alliance. The vase was meant for you. Wonderful find.

  13. This is the cat that killed the rat that eat the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.

    The above written on a small cup avec illustrations. It is transfer printed I think and was bought in a small junk/antique shop in Paddington, Sydney about 1963.It was the day and my sister and I got lost and were taken to the police station to await my worried parents.

  14. Reggie,
    I don't know which part of this I liked better-the fact that you pulled over to shop or that you knew this was a good selection! I would have been one of those people who passed on it without really knowing why? It's always an education here and the little vase looks so pretty.

  15. This vase just says New Orleans to me - The combo of Paris Porcelain and the religious decoration, I can see it in a private home,mid 19th century or in a small side chapel in a larger church- I don't know for sure, but it seems like a good fit-

  16. On the subject of containers, Do you suppose if I acquired my very own oak barrel, I could improve an average bourbon to something spectacular by aging my own Bourbon? HBE

  17. I have retired U.S. Navy china from the officers' galley. I enjoy thinking of who sipped coffee from the cup and where he may have been in the world and what he was doing (e.g., on watch on the bridge in the middle of the night or in his cabin at the end of a long day at sea).

  18. Reggie,
    What a wonderful vase! I find strangely labelled items fascinating. I have a small, 19th century drinking glass etched with the Lord's Prayer and a tiny cherubim. Also, a set of three silver spoons of different sizes engraved "Bathroom." I also love my collection of "Tom and Jerry" bowls.

  19. Very nice find,this vase was calling you. I love trumpet-shaped vases! I have Paris porcelain cups and dishes with sayings and inscriptions upon them and at one time owned two vases with portraits of Jesus painted on them.


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