Cheese Domes – Who eats that much cheese?

Two English Cheese Domes or Cheese Keepers Probably from Mid 1800’s

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.

Blue Willow Addiction!

I have to start off by telling you how I got to where I am in my Willow Pattern Collecting

I received my first piece of willow (showcased on my home page) after my husband and I got married. I was 20 and he was 19! Needless to say, we were entirely too young to get married, but I was expecting our first child.

We were sophomore’s in college, struggling to make ends meet and my mom at the time owned an antique, second hand shop in our tiny little town. My husband and I moved into my childhood home. It was a tiny two bedroom house, but had everything we needed to get started.

The kitchen had maple cabinets painted white. There were several layers of other colors too, but the yellow formica countertops shouted decorate with blue and white! My first piece of willow was the Japanese salt box pictured on my home page. Searching for additional pieces to complete a 6 place setting, was difficult.

It was slim pickings when the only places you could afford to shop was the Humane Society and Salvation Army thrift stores! At the time, there was no internet, so , while it sounds crazy, you actually drove around looking for your willow treasures!

The married life was not what I had envisioned. We were entirely too young to get married, but the shame we had brought our families by expecting a child out of wedlock, back in the 90’s was too much to bare. I always thought, the decans in the church are adults, surely they can count at least to 5! Eventually they will figure out 5 months later we had a child!

The pressures of being young parents, struggling to finish school and making ends meet took my husband and I both down destructive paths. Neither of us had our heart right with God and both of us turned to other vises to cope. He to alcohol and myself…validation and work.

Long story short, after 7 years, we had outgrown that tiny little house and two china cupboards sat filled with willow of all different manufacturers. Heck I didn’t know the difference….they all had birds, a bridge and pagoda. I found myself stopping at the mall book store and looking through antique books when I found that salt box, my very first piece valued at over $200.

Now back then we lived on nachos and cheese in the college cafeteria, $200 would have made us rich, but instead, to me it was nothing shy of treasure…and it was given to me! Hence my love of willow collecting began in 1996. 26 years later, I have a much larger home and 3,000 plus pieces of willow. I also have an Ebay app! Eeek, that is dangerous!

How on earth did I get here? Well my husband and I finally found recovery at a local church. We began to piece together the issues in our marriage and soon we began to find healing. We eventually built our own home and moved out in to the country. Once we began to make God the center of our lives, we began to work on ourselves individually and then our relationship. We are now approaching 25 years of marriage this upcoming March!

I am sure you can tell, I run a recovery program after being a participant since 2012. And I would like to say all I do is collect, but there really is a deeply rooted addiction down there. It just happens to look nice on a shelf or at a beautiful table!

Addiction comes in many forms and while I joke about collecting, the fact that I have had to box up the more common willow and take it to the basement tells me I do have an issue! The good thing is, it all has value and I can sell any of it if I truly needed to. I will not however move into another home, unless my life depends on it. I have accumulated way too much.

Why do I do what I do?

Why do I feel the need to look for that one rare piece?

When is enough enough?

I have to be honest here, after a childhood of chaos and a marriage that was no different for the first 17 years, I have found myself clinging to the next purchase. Patiently awaiting the mailman to bring it to me undamaged.

I learned early on as a child, the value of antiques and was often praised when I would help my mom locate a rare item at a yard sale or flea market. Just so you know, sitting in the dirt at the flea market playing, leaves one fairly dirty! Those were the good days!

Anyhow, I think each piece brings some form of fulfillment, and excitement. Unfortunately it does fade, so on to the next hunt! I joined the International Willow Collectors group back in the mid 90’s and found there are many other people out there like me. My husband and I attended 3 conventions before I was brave enough to pack up the set above and enter a place setting competition. Needless to say, I did win that competition!!!!!! I was hooked.

I did notice I was about the youngest of the adult group from a collecting perspective, but those days helping in my mom’s antique shop and at antique shows had groomed me into a collector. I saw value in what I collected and often times, the thrill of the hunt kept me going strong.

I have attended several conventions now and two years ago got to speak on willow pattern toby jugs. It is one of my favorite things to collect. Anyhow, I will say this is one area of my recovery where I am still active in addiction. I simply love looking for the next piece, learning where it came from!

#willowpattern #bluewillow #collecting #placesettings

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