Though collecting often involves the thrill of the hunt, sometimes it's nice to let someone else do all the work. I am the lucky owner of several collections that my friend Sue has built for me. Not only does she know me well and have tons of style, she has access to the treasure troves that are rural-Illinois antique malls. Several times a year I receive a care package with new, carefully chosen additions to the tightly-curated collections.
Images: Tess Wilson
- The very first thing Sue ever sent me was a little Frankoma tea pot. I was smitten. A couple years later the water pitcher arrived and I felt like an adult — so elegant! It is always on display and admired daily, but only used for fancy sit-down be-careful dinners like Thanksgiving. I know my talent for breaking things. A few years after that the mugs came (I have two but could only find one at the moment), just in time for winter. They are a bit more wild-west camp-fire than I usually go, but I find that mid-winter that's exactly what I need. Cocoa needs a sturdy, cozy mug! The amazing thing is that most Frankoma ceramics are...not quite my style, but Sue has managed to find the pieces that not only suit but inform my style.
- My vintage cookbook collection is fascinating in so many ways: the weird recipes (mincemeat ice cream sandwiches!), the bizarre illustrations (cakes hovering in mid-air), and the voyeuristic pleasure of seeing how people ate & cooked a hundred years ago. When one of my gift packages includes a little old cookbook, all festivities (birthday, Christmas) come to a halt while I pore over it, and I find myself reading it before bed for the next few days. Few things are more comforting. There are probably about a dozen books in my collection so far, all with amazing drawings, intriguing themes, charming writing, and/or general oddness.
- Finally, for now, there is my little Pyrex collection, all black & white, mostly in the Gooseberry pattern. The two bowls get used the most, as there is always dough rising, and often greens being rinsed or scones being mixed. Again, it would never occur to me to buy vintage Pyrex but these just do it for me. Not only are they black & white, a color scheme I love in the kitchen for its neat, clean, stove-matching properties, but check out those mysterious buds & flowers! Oh, wait- it turns out the platter on the bottom was actually made by Anchor-Hocking, not Pyrex...but look how good they all look together!