I have to say, while I love cheese, this my friends looks like a ton of cheese. I had to say I was so excited when the first cheese dome arrived at the house. It is the one on the right. It is not marked but I knew it was from England just based on the pattern.
I recall purchasing it from an online auction, along with a bunch of other crap (non willow items), praying when it arrived it would be intact. I always sell the other crap to pay for my addiction. I always hate ordering from out of the country, simply out of fear that it won’t arrive in one piece. The box arrived and it was huge. There were little Staffordshire cottages, and other small willow items, I didn’t really care for tucked all around a big box in the center.
Half of me feared pulling that box out to hear it clang inside, but it didn’t. The shippers had done a wonderful job of wrapping it and double boxing it. They also filled it with these hideous little boogers called foam peanuts. I hate those things, but they do their job! The first time I gazed at it, all I could think was how on earth did people eat that much cheese?
Like seriously, I don’t have wine in my house due to discussions I have had in my previous blog…but wine and cheese, like you would be drunk and bound up for days! This made me think, I was missing something! So I began to research these precious finds.
These cheese keepers were durable, and obviously over 200 years later these beauties are still in tact. They are very heavy, sturdy and were probably used over and over with every block of cheese the family made or purchased. Back in the 1800’s, without refrigeration, these domes created the perfect climate. Under the handle of the one on the right there is a metal piece, that most likely served to allow air to escape.
These domes were probably made so tall, so the cheese had room to breath and allowed for the right humidity. I think if anyone has ever smelled cheese, it also probably served to keep the smell of grandpa’s toes form spreading throughout the house!
I have posted pictures of these on my Facebook page before and everyone thinks they are for cake. That too my friends would be a bad deal. You would become insulin dependent in no time eating cake that size!
I will also add that the shape of domes began to change and get smaller around 1860. I have added a picture to the gallery of a much smaller cheese dome. The one pictured is a gaudy willow Ridgway Pottery cheese dome. It was my first every cheese dome. Now I have become addicted to seeking out these babies. I will add, the only cheese I truly love is at the Mexican place we eat at and to much surprise, that cheese has no binding effect!!! I know so gross, but if you eat Mexican food as much as I do, you understand exactly what I am talking about.
Anyhow, onto dome number two. The second dome has an Iron Stone China Mark but gives no manufacturer data and I have looked through countless willow pattern books. I know it is English and most likely the bottom is a marriage. Meaning the top and bottom were put together after one or the other was broken. The top looks to me to be a Ridgway pattern. It has many areas of raised marks and it made to truly resemble a barrel with the raised sections.
I don’t know about you, but I am in love with these domes and will be certain to purchase the next one I see. They currently adorn my kitchen table that seats 8. They are too heavy and too broad to fit in my china cupboards and I would fear losing a shelf if I made that choice. None the less, I love each of them.
Do you have a cheese dome in the willow pattern? Please share if you do, I would love to hear about it and see some pics!!!! For now, don’t drink too much wine or eat too much cheese! Much Willow Love Christine.