Another Surprise Willow Mug!

Good morning everyone! I have to admit it has been far too long since I wrote a blog post. I truly do miss doing this. I have found it to be stress relieving and to be honest, it doesn’t get much worse than these last two months! Pictured above is my latest surprise willow mug. I bought this beautiful example knowing full well it was damaged but I thought it would compliment my other frog mugs really well.

I haven’t been online much, haven’t purchased much simply because I was in the process of purchasing a second home in the city where I work. I had no idea how stressful that process could be and the scrutiny my finances would be under. My bank turned into the FBI and IRS all wrapped up together! So for about 2 months there were no willow purchases other than this piece and a few pieces I picked up for less than $100 while visiting Ben in Columbus.

Anyhow, some discussion of my mug! This one is very different than my others. I don’t know the pattern off the top of my head but will enlist some folks to help me in that arena. There are no birds on this pattern. It wasn’t listed as willow but the border really appeared to be willow and well…the frog sold it anyhow! I am a sucker for those little guys. This piece is not marked. It is not an ironstone like one of my other examples. This one is more like a bone china, very thin and light weight but obviously very old.

Below are examples of my other “surprise” mugs as they are often called in the UK. You drink your ale to the bottom only to have a surprise staring back at you! The loving cup in the middle of these pics is not a surprise mug but it is one of my favorites. You can see my other single handled frog mug is the traditional blue willow pattern with no border, so they really are all very different as are the frogs on the inside.

As I have told many of you before, a true willow collector can’t really pick their favorite willow find! For me I have favorite willow collections such as: toby collection, willow cat collection, willow dog collection, cow creamers, cheese domes…….and the list, well it goes on. This is one of my favorite willow collections and it is near impossible to pick a favorite from these!

Happy Willowing, stay safe and enjoy the sunshine!



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
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
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!


Willow Pattern Baby Bottle & Invalid Feeder

Well, today is my son’s 20th birthday and tomorrow is my husbands 45th! I can’t help to think back to when my son was born. Our daughter was almost 4. She was so excited to see her little brother. We had to buy her a big sister shirt at the gift shop in the hospital. It is so crazy how times have changed. Tomorrow I get to hold my 3 month old grandson.

It reminded me I have never written anything on this baby bottle. Yes, this is a baby bottle from the 1800’s. It is nothing shy of a miracle that it survived. Can you imagine using this to feed an infant? My daughter would have a heart attack if I attempted such a thing with my grandson!

I do happen to love this piece and the delicate nature of each of these I get to see. This one has the butterfly border, and no birds. It is a gorgeous piece. I still cannot image how it has survived all of these years.

Up next is the invalid feeder. I have seen some call this a pap boat as well. These are also pretty hard to find. Mine has been well used an has some damage here and there but I felt like it was worth cherishing anyway. This piece I suppose would be considered medically related.

I simply love these pale blue and white pieces. They are so light and delicate. The same butterfly border pattern exists on the inside of this piece. Both of these pieces are unmarked so I am clueless as to who made them or where to even start. I felt they were worth sharing anyway!

Here’s to Birthday Parties, Grand Children and Willow!


Just Us Cats (Willow Cats)

So I picked these little cats up online. I was in love with the black willow pattern, so I simply had to have them. They are made by James Kent and are marked. I love the shades of yellow with the black willow pattern. It makes me smile!

I have to tell you a little story about where the title came from for this post! First I love willow pattern animals including cats, but there is a much funnier story behind the title. Several years ago my mom had a cat who had two beautiful little kittens. One was orange and the other was Siamese….yes same litter. Both cats were male but my kids insisted on bringing them home.

If anyone has had two male cats in your home that have not been neutered you know what you have to deal with. They will spray darn near anything! We kept them in a small area of the house when we weren’t home but often they would get into the garage where we stored things.

My house is full of avid hunters, my husband, and my son and during hunting season, my brother in law and my father in law often go hunting together. When we first got moved, there wasn’t much preparation to head to the woods, so they just pulled their hunting stuff out of the bins (completely unsuspecting). They headed up towards the hill when the wind began to blow and all of a sudden, they smelled their clothing… guessed it, male cat pee!

At that point it was day light so as they walked up the hill, my brother in law made the wise crack to the unsuspecting deer, “It’s just us cats”. I don’t recall if they actually were successful on their hunt, but they learned to pull their clothing out well in advance and prep! So today is about It’s just us cats!!!

You are probably thinking the same thoughts my husband did. The first thing he asked was “Don’t you have blue willow cats” I responded yes. He informed me they were the same thing. At that point my face needed deliverance…seriously Ben, Black willow and Blue Willow are very different. Needless to say he still doesn’t understand but knows they are not being sold!

To show you, they are different but made by the same manufacturer. I would say the cat mold was different, one being a little taller than the other.

I don’t know if I am the only one who feels this way but I would buy every set I cam across if the cushion was a different color or the collar was a different color. After all, they are DIFFERENT!!!!!!

Happy willowing cat lovers.


Blue Willow: Someone is watching me!

Have you ever walked through an antique mall and see a piece of willow that is they “typical willow” and you you keep right on going. It happens when you get entirely too much, which is where I am currently. If it isn’t a rare piece or something with advertising, I tend to walk right on by. I simply don’t have the room to purchase every piece of blue willow I see and I might add, my husband would disown me if I purchased more.

This piece if situated the right way would have not even gotten a lift off of the shelf, I would have told my husband, yeah I see it…not unusual. Further examination would have revealed two beautiful female faces on each side. Now , some of you probably saw this listed on Ebay a month or so ago as a blue willow sugar dish, but I was drawn to it and I don’t have very many Buffalo Pottery pieces, so I decided to open the listing.

I have to be honest, I have no idea what it is, but no one puts their sugar out on a table without a lid of sorts, so I would equate it to a tooth brush holder or something. It is too big to hold toothpicks. It doesn’t have a rim for a lid either.

I decided not to put this one off and I purchased it. Maybe you can help me determine what it is!!! I am clueless on this one.

I think it is a rather neat piece and is one of my most favorite Buffalo Pottery pieces I have.

I hope all of you slow down, give the pieces a second look and find some treasures. Happy Willowing!


I Love Willow Pattern Place Setting Competitions!

Good Morning! I am so happy to feel the brisk cool mornings and then feel the sun hit my face by mid day. It is a relief to feel some positive light and the seasons change. I enjoy spring and the sound of the peepers outside at night. I also enjoy a good place setting competition.

I have used this set above in a couple of competitions and have one first place This set was normally made with a background of white. It is Crown Staffordshire and is the only yellow set I have ever seen. I remember ordering it off of Ebay several years ago. It wasn’t listed as willow. I recall stressing over the shipping but the person who sold it assured me I had paid enough for packing that it would arrive safely.

I had it shipped to my place of work thinking it would present in a box the size of a paper box, but nope, instead it came in a box the side of a small appliance! I was a little embarrassed and had to set sit in my office carefully unpacking so as to not have little foam pieces all over the office, none the less I had one cup lose a handle. For a 10 place setting I felt like this was a huge win.

I managed to purchase the entire set, which may have been a sample set. I have a covered dish, a cake plate, a huge round platter, teapot, creamer and sugar. Each place setting came with a cup and saucer, bowl, salad plate and a double handled soup cup and saucer.

Anyhow, back to why I made the post to begin with. With willow I can get really off track. I am a member of the International Willow Collectors. There is a convention the second week in July each year and I truly enjoy them. This year it is once again online. One of my favorite parts is the Willow Place Setting competition. I truly enjoy seeing how others decorate a table. I have used the set above in the competition in the past. This year it is all about England, so I will need to figure out another amazing place setting to throw together.

I do truly enjoy the IWC, the newsletters, and their annual convention. If you haven’t joined, you really should. The cost is really low (less than $50) and you get so much from it.

Anyhow, here is to another place setting!

Happy Willowing!


Blue Willow Soothes my Soul!

As we pulled up the driveway late last night I said that little prayer many of you have chanted if you are honest with yourselves: “Dear God, Don’t let my willow be in pieces”! Like seriously, I can’t be the only one.

I have a couple of pieces with the pierced lattice work but didn’t have a bowl per se. This one is gorgeous. It is unmarked but I would suspect it dates to the early to mid 1800’s. The pattern on the interior of the bowl is only a partial willow pattern. Obviously a size constraint for the area the pattern was being laid down on.

It appears to be a traditional willow pattern but honestly I just can’t tell. It is gorgeous and is one of the most intricate designs. As I set here and type, my husband asked what I was blogging about. I said my first chestnut dish. He quickly asked if it was going to be my last. You know the look a mother gives a child when they are being loud in a crowd or they just said something obscene and everyone else was quiet….Yeah he got that look. Daggers included.

Anyhow onto the outside of this dish….it is so gorgeous and different than any others I have. I love the imperfections in the border laid down. I am thankful this piece arrived safely and I do believe it will get to be filled with beautiful shells we collected on our trip.

I have to say, I hate for Ben to see the boxes when the arrive. He always says, what is this…did you need that for sure? I did forewarn him I had a couple of items coming. I am always quick to remind him I can always see it to some willing willower and have done so many times…so he doesn’t give me too much trouble.

Anyhow, for now, happy willowing!


Blue willow and Butter – two of my favorite things!

I have fallen so in love with the pale blues of the Two Temples Two pattern. This is a gorgeous little butter dish. The edges are scalloped. My most favorite pieces have this pattern.

I think back to days of yesterday and why type of table would this stately piece set on. I can assure you the round mound of butter was nothing like we buy in the store. I’m certain their came from a good old churn like my grandmother used to use.

Now I have to be very honest, I have provided a mark but I have not researched this piece. I’d say it dates to the late 1800’s. It’s actually 4 am here and I am rather tired. Research will wait for another day.

Happy willowing folks. I’ll be in touch real soon!!! Christine.

Love is in the Air!

I have been blessed to become friends with people who share my love and passion for blue and white, specifically the willow pattern. As we approach Easter I intend to have a beautiful display of early light blue and white willow items adorn some various areas in my house. Today’s pick is this loving cup! I am simply in awe of this piece.

This is the only loving cup I own that sits beautifully on a pedestal. It is unmarked and has such a beautiful pearlware feel. I am simply in love. As I unpacked it Ben taunted me asking if he could drink his diet coke in it. The daggers that shot from my eyes told him no. I didn’t have to even say the word!

On another note, I was able to add to my growing frog mug collection as well. This loving cup tops my favorite mug collection, but take a gander at this one….finally one with an open mouth that spits back at the gent trying to drink his ale!

I simply love these pieces! Take a look at how the pattern stops on one side and it doesn’t match up with the pattern from the other side. I love the imperfection and this one is actually marked! This is the only piece of Mailing Pottery that I own!

Now for the collection of my favorite mugs:

I simply love how different all four of my frog mugs are and the star of the show is now my loving cup.

Happy Willowing! Keep hunting!


Blue & White Soothes My Soul

As I stand in line at the grocery store, it never fails, Better Homes & Gardens or some other Southern Living Magazine with blue and white on the cover always catches my eye. There may only be one page in the entire magazine but I am so drawn to the shade especially combined with shades of light green. I don’t know why but it always calms me and gets my mind focused on brighter days ahead.

This place setting reminds me Easter is right around the corner and the grass in my yard is going to begin to turn a beautiful shade of green. I simply adore the simplicity delicate pieces in this place setting. They traveled a very long trip from the UK to find their home here. The rabbit of course only traveled 45 minutes from Hobby Lobby, which I might add I believe the devil invented…I never have enough money to spend there!!!!

I mixed my favorite things in this photo, my beautiful willow silverware, my lace edge pieces, some delicate sea shells harvested by Ben and I on our trip last year to the beach and gorgeous willow pattern linens. But that darn big ole’ platter, I have no room for it…I would stash it somewhere…but well, I just don’t have a place for it. If I put it on my round farm table, as you can see I only have room for one place setting.

As we begin to see some shine on our faces, lets recall, this time last year, our lives got turned upside down and while fear might have been in the forefront of our minds, here we are yet again today…fear did not prevail! I encourage you to set your table, get gussied up and just enjoy the sun on your face, even if it is bitter cold, it will do you body and soul some good.

Happy Willowing!


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