Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Collections (And A Major Digression into a Family Tradition: Pfaltzgraff)

I used to be a "collector"...I collected elephant figurines and funky colored glass bottles and bizarre religious kitsch often found walking down 14th Street in New York City.  However, living in a microscopic studio apartment for a few years sort of cured me of collecting.  Space being very precious, I had but one marble mantle to display my collections...I weeded out my favorites and displayed them and wrapped the rest up for storage. I still don't know where they are - my best guess is my mother's garage.

My Partner In Crime Randy seems to be collecting small 1970's era Honda motorcycles as well as Honda Scooters.  To date, we have 5 motorcycles and 4 scooters.  I made him promise that he won't buy any more until our kitchen counters have been replaced, and so far he's done an admirable job of restraining himself despite his daily scouring of eBay and Craigslist.

I do have a collection, however, and it's something I kind of share with my nuclear family.  I have my Grandma Brenner's Pfaltzgraff "Nordic Green" dishes and servingware.  Grandma gave my sister and I the dishes over a decade ago - we split them in half and promised that whoever got married first would give her half to the spinster.  I am the spinster.  But lucky me! These dishes are simple, sturdy, and (in my eyes) gorgeous.  Right now they are wrapped up and safely stowed in my basement, but once I re-do the kitchen, I plan on using them.

These were my grandmother's "every day" dishes.  I find the coffee cups hilariously small, but have such vivid memories of Grandma sitting at the kitchen table in her housecoat, having the first of many cups of coffee from these exact coffee cups. 

Pfaltzgraff was a big deal growing up -- my mother's family is from York, PA, home of  the Pfaltzgraff stoneware factory - and more importantly - the Outlet.  As a child I had been dragged to the outlet so my mother could check out the "seconds" which enabled her to purchase additions to her set of dishes at a huge discount due to minor flaws.  Her pattern? "Gourmet":

My Aunt Marilynn had a set of Pfaltzgraff, too - but her pattern was "Yorktowne". 

When we would all visit at my Grandparent's house, "the ladies" would go to the Outlet and leave the men at home because the men in our family had very little patience for looking thoroughly through the "seconds" for some good deals.  My grandfather in particular was a disgruntled "shopper" and would pace outside whatever stores we went to in the mall, so it was best for all concerned to leave him home. 

I was torn between wanting to be with my mother and Aunt and to go shopping and being stuck in that "boring" dish outlet.  I was afraid I'd break something - tempted TO break something.  Quite a conundrum.

Despite my misery at being dragged through a huge store full of dishes just to get the chance to hit up a drug store for candy or a Bonne Bell Lipsmacker, I have huge sentimental love for Pfaltzgraff.  My siblings must, too, because my brother's dishes are "Radius":

My sister chose Pfaltzgraff for her wedding dishes.  Her pattern?  None of us know the name.  It was a mix and match pattern that has been discontinued -but they're adorable!  And sturdy.

That's what I personally love so much about Pfaltzgraff's stoneware.  It's heavy, it's durable, it's middle-class china!!!  What makes it so collectible, though, is the fact that they introduce patterns and then discontinue them.  So, when I see some "Gourmet" stashed in an antique store, like the one I was in in Bolton's Landing, NY ...I get all excited.  Of course, my mother isn't really collecting it anymore.  She has it tucked away in her hutch.  She pulls it out for special occasions, like Thanksgiving, but she's said that it's too "heavy" for her daily use.  She sticks to her plain white Corningware for her daily use. 
So I am going to be on the lookout this spring for my Nordic Green - I think it will look great in my future kitchen. 

By the way, one could get Pfaltzgraff Replacements right here.

The other thing I'm looking for is the old green Pyrex:

While I'm waiting for the Winter Doldroms to pass and the flea market/estate sale season to start, I have begun shopping for paint colors.  Thanks to a great email from Pam at Retro Renovation, I have explored the idea of painting my walls a Jadeite Green to make the salmon tile pop. I have my work cut out for me.  I need to really wash the cabinets and tiles.  I need to paint, sand and prime.  It would be great if I could have this project done by the middle of March. 

I don't want to install the counters until the paint is done.  Knowing me, I'd get paint on brand new counters and hate myself.  

1 comment:

  1. Ya knwo I have never heard of Pfaltzgraff Ware?! Its Kind of Like this stuff we have down here called Frankoma, its heavy, glazed earthen ware infact, I did a post about it here - http://egtmicks.blogspot.com/2010/04/in-frankoma-frenzy.html Its a Big deal around Oklahoma/Texas/Kansas I too have my Grandmothers wedding set too! We use them for super special occasions at the Casablanca!