Where Did Your Obsession with Willow Start?

My obsession with willow first started out of necessity. I often get asked what willow do you collect? It is a fairly easy answer…..any of it! I have various shades of willow. I have willow furniture, pictures, embroidery work, jewelry, china and even clothing. I like to think of myself as being born in the wrong era! I think I could have totally rocked the 50’s and 60’s like my momma did!

The picture above is of me in a beautiful linen willow pattern dress I purchased at a willow convention and have subsequently worn from time to time. It takes me back to the south in an older era where the cooking is filled with carbs and no one cares! I will say it has taken me a solid 3 months to get into this dress but I am happy to find it zips!!!!

Anyhow, where did it all start? Bills, lots of bills! When Ben and I first got married, the word broke didn’t even do our situation justice. I remember seeing this ceramic box sit on my mom’s counter always filled with bills that needed mailing back out with payment. Hence my first piece of willow was a Japanese salt box pictured below! I adored this piece so I decided to see if my mom had any more pieces of the pattern. We were both in college, I was expecting and we had minimum wage jobs. $4.75 per hour was what we made at the time!

My mom quickly gathered a box of blue and white china in various patterns from her store and passed it on. Much of it was blue willow but there were some blue onion pieces and Currier and Ives as well. Those pieces found their way back to her once I realized the difference!

I have to say though, my collecting has changed. I buy pieces that display well, even if they have repairs but I do so love the English older pieces more than American made patterns (with the exception of Buffalo…I do love it!) I have many pieces from all sorts of manufacturers but the English steals the show for me.

I posted pics last week of a pair of English Kent Cats that I purchased. My mom told me I was crazy when she saw what I paid for them, but I assured her I had gotten a bargain. She just shook her head. The willow convention did open her eyes to values and wide range of patterns and items with the willow pattern on them so she figures I probably have a little bit of a clue! Regardless, no regrets on the purchase.

I have recently also posted a picture of one of the dogs I purchase off of my friend Loren Zeller. If you don’t have his book….stop wasting time! It is totally worth the money, so much info in this book…It is becoming my bible for collecting. And it happens to match my dress! Win win!!

Anyhow, my first dog purchase was for Loren and I completely fell in love. The excitement when the mail lady showed up with a package!!!!!

Here is the details on Loren’s site for this piece:

Date: c. 1890-1900+
Dimensions: H 5″
Maker: James Kent
Maker’s Mark: Unmarked
Description:
A rare Staffordshire Whippet with the base printed with  the Standard Willow border. The figure was hand painted. While these figures with over the glaze painted decoration sometimes appear in market today, examples with a transfer printed base are considered quite rare. Attributed to James Kent.

Now as most of you know me so well, I can’t just stop there. Listen folks addiction comes in all forms! But I must say mine happens to be a healthy investment for my kids in the future! Next up is another purchase from Loren that makes my heart happy! Two dogs with spots and the willow pattern!!

Oh how I love these little guys. I think now that I have three willow dogs I can name them after my current dogs, Trapper, Bella and Sheldon! The description from Loren’s site is below:

Shape Type: Dog Figures
Pattern Name: Standard Willow Border Pattern
Date: c. 1890-1900+
Dimensions: H 5″
Maker: James Kent
Maker’s Mark: Unmarked
Description:
A rare pair of 5″ Staffordshire Spotted Whippets with the base of each printed with  the Standard Willow border. Figures are hand painted with luster and gilt decorated.  They were featured on the cover of IWC News, V. 5, 2006. While these figures, with over the glaze painted decoration, are sometimes appear in market today, examples with a transfer printed base are considered quite rare. They are unmarked but can possibly be attributed to James Kent.

Now, I will tell you, if you truly are a willow enthusiast, you willingness to purchase reproductions fades. You willingness to purchase newer items, unless for every day use will go away. You may also find you begin to like willow items more than others. I love animals, frog mugs, cow creamers and toby jugs more than I do purchasing plates, simply because I have no room left at the inn so to speak!

I am in the process of purchasing a home in Charleston where I can stay during the week when I am at work. It will be my home away from home, but I can’t even begin to think of separating my collection. So I anticipate not much of my collection will be going with me.

For now, I am going to close. If you have an old soul like me don’t be afraid to show it by throwing on an old cotton dress and enjoying your tea or coffee. We need more of that in the crazy world we are living in.

Happy Willowing, much love!

Christine

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