Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saucer of the Week: English Rock and Tree

This week's saucer post continues the theme I began last week, namely of an English saucer decorated in a manner inspired by the Orient.  I use the word "Orient" intentionally here instead of today's preferred "Asia," since that is what those who would have made or owned this pretty saucer would have known that region as when the saucer was made, approximately two hundred years ago.

This week's saucer, which measures 5 3/8 inches in diameter,  is decorated in what is known as the "Rock and Tree" pattern.  You can see why if you examine the center of the dish, where a weeping willow stands to the left, with its drooping branches overhanging a series of boulders on the ground.  As was last week's Imari-type saucer, so this one has six segments surrounding the center motif, with alternating scrolls containing what appear to be dogwood flowers, and smaller pendulous flowers between them.

I like this saucer because I find its decoration pleasing, done in soft oranges, salmons, greens, and gilding.  I believe it is—or once was—one of a pair that we bought at Bardith, Ltd., on Madison Avenue a dozen or so years ago.  For the life of me I cannot find the second one.  I am not sure if we broke it or if it is buried in one of the stacks of china that seem to fill every cupboard in our house.  Ah, well.


  1. Reggie, it is as delightful as last week's - both, saucers, to build rooms and decorative schemes around. I know this would involve a lot of work but perhaps someday a post that shows all, in a grid formation? I loved last week's particularly and thought that was it .. well, you surprised and delighted with this.

  2. Reggie this saucer is exquisite.
    I thought it might be cloisonne when I first glimpsed the image.

    I can see this on a fine wood table with some asian pieces nearby...
    and perhaps a large chunky beaded coral necklace just for fun!

    Exploring your cupboards must be such am many saucers to see!

  3. I do love the saucers with oranges! I never knew I could enjoy saucers so much, thank you!

  4. Reggie, thank you for another exquisite example of your saucer collection and, if you would be so kind, would you mind providing a little more saucer history to:

    [1]account for the absence of the circular cup-foot indentation in all of your antique saucers, ie when did the little non-slip protective indentation appear in the hisory of cup and saucer; and

    [2] account for the exaggerated height of your saucers as compared to that of what we have come to accept as the norm in recent past; and

    [3] account for whether or not the two questionable points I raise are related; something tells me they are related, but I'd like you to confirm this with elaboration.

  5. Hello Reggie:
    You both clearly have a very good and discerning eye when it comes to selecting porcelain [and much else too, we imagine, of things to be found in Darlington House] and this saucer is no exception. Absolutely lovely. And now you must search for its pair!

  6. These saucers are getting boring.

  7. Blue: Thank you very much. A similar idea has been suggested by TDC and Ruffnerian, who have suggested that I show them all together in a sidebar. If I only knew how...

    Hello Hostess: I like the idea of a coral necklace, but am afraid it will need to wait until your visit, as Reggie doesn't, in general, wear ladies' jewelry.

    Emmaleigh504: Thank you, I am glad that you are enjoying this series.

    Hello Flo: Thank you for your questions, here's my best effort at answering them:
    (1) Saucers are an invention of the Chinese, I believe, who first used and made them when consuming tea. The form seen on the saucers I have posted is inspired by examples imported from China. The indentation you write of is, I believe, a purely Western conceit, and came in to general practice in the middle of the nineteenth century, after these saucers were made;
    (2) The saucers are higher than those made today for the same reason that they do not have the indentation: they are inspired by ones originally made in China; and
    (3) Yes, they are related . . .

    Jane and Lance Hattat: Thank you, I do hope to one day come across the other one of these we have, but I am afraid it will require moving so many mountains of china as to make the task particularly daunting (and therefore not particularly high on my list of "must do" activities in the near term). Someday . . .

    Anonymous 1:30: I wasn't aware that I was expected to engage your attention...

  8. "The saucers are higher than those made today..."

    Thank you. What got me started on this curiosity was seeing the photo of your urn saucer holding the champagne flute, this one:

    The urn dish photo is the only one in the series giving us an idea of the generous curve outward and upward, resulting in the very pleasing height.

    And now I want to ask, if you'll please forgive me for being forward, if Boy would occasionally provide a second photo -- the usual one from the decorated front just as he's been doing, and another from the undecorated side view so that we may appreciate the sculptural quality of these dishes.

  9. I love all of your saucers -- each is so different and so pretty. And they make a good collection as well!

  10. Hello Flo: Thank you, and what a good suggestion! I shall encourage Boy to get on it. However, it may be a while before I post one with two views, since we've already shot the series! I'll ask his to re-open it, so we can meet your request.

    Thank you Martha, coming from you--a fellow china addict--I am most pleased by your approval.

  11. That is beautiful!!!

  12. Reggie! Wait a minute. I just clicked to the saucer above, wanted to give it another look. I hadn't put my glasses on yet. In the blurred center I made out the word "boy."

    Do you see it?

    How sweet is that!

  13. Dear Reggie,

    I understand that saucers were larger and deeper in the 18th and early 19th centuries due to the custom of "saucering," or pouring hot tea from the cup into the saucer to cool, and drinking the tea from the saucer. This awkward procedure led to the necessity for small extra saucers or "cup plates" to prevent tablecloths from being stained by dripping cups. The beautiful "lacy" glass examples from Sandwich and other American glass manufacturers, because they were cheaper than imported china, were often bought to augment porcelain tea sets. The custom apparently died out in most places by the later 1800s, leaving stacks of these pretty little plates unused in the backs of many American china cupboards. When found, they are sometimes mistaken for doll dishes.

    Your fellow china-maniac and saucer collector,



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