Friday, 15 March 2013
Responding to Zhoen.
A few days ago, in her almost-daily meditative blog, Zhoen wrote here about salt and pepper and I threatened to show her something of my collection of condiment sets.
So here you are, Zhoen.
A very small part of the collection!
She may well ask 'why?', as I do myself.
Well, the little Dutch couple with the windmill, standing on their original box, were a wedding present to my parents in 1937. They were never used, and were hidden away for many years because they were made in Japan, and the British did not have a good association with the Japanese in the 1940s.
Many, many years later I found the other little Japanese Dutch girl with her goose and her windmill, and added her as a matter of interest.
So why the Dutch influence?
These sets are Marutomo ware, and for a great many years the Japanese only wished to trade with the Dutch and the Chinese - hence the clogs and windmills are a 1920s, 1930s hangover from much longer-established trading traditions.
Why condiment sets?
Goodness only knows.
I know why I have collected them. They don't take up much room on a shelf in the kitchen, they are interesting and quirky and colourful and funny.
I have a salt mill and a pepper mill. People may use them if they wish, but I am not very happy if they reach for them before even tasting the food I have carefully seasoned. They are filled with Malden salt and good black pepper, whereas these little things would be used for fine-pouring table salt, dusty white pepper and a wet paste of English mustard. Not usable at all, so their little cork bungs are still immaculate.
What you see is the tip of a small iceberg of three-piece condiment sets. Several English potteries made and still make them, as did and do German and many other European factories. So I have three-piece sets of timbered cottages, loaves of bread, little mills with attached water-wheels, birds in a nest, fruit and vegetables in a dish, wrestling elephants, posing dogs, flowers in baskets, sea-shells ................you think of it, and it's likely that someone has made it into a condiment set.