Yet another ongoing h2g2 hobby. Have you ever wondered about 'Royal Doulton'?
I used to have just one set of dishes, and I was getting tired of it. I had accumulated the pattern at a local supermarket. It was off-white earthenware with a caramel-brown rim. My dining table needed serious scrubbing, and I was casting about for ways to ensure that it would stay clean and nice-looking.
Then, in early 2000, I hit upon the idea of using tablecloths and good china. The tablecloths would hide the unsightly table surface, and if I replaced them every day, food would not build up on them. The key element seemed to be that having a different pattern every day, on a differently colored table cloth, would ensure that any crumbs or other detritus would get removed by the end of every day.
At first I experimented with some cheap patterns that I got from a railroad salvage place. These turned out to be (a.) yucky or (b.) boring or (c.) a little bit of both. The bottom line, though, was that they were no real improvement over the brown-rimmed dishes I had thrown away after decades of service.
Okay, I knew what I wanted to do. I knew how much I could afford, namely whatever amounts were left over after I had fed myself, paid all the bills, and put money aside for retirement. The only remaining decisions had to do with how to get the patterns. This part of the program divided itself along the following lines:
1. The Internet, mostly EBay and Replacements, Ltd.. I got plenty of good stuff this way. The downside was the drain from the bank account that was hooked up to PayPal.
2. Stores. There were factory outlet stores about 20 miles away. Mikasa, and Pfaltzgraff had stores there in the first half of the decade.
2.b. From Pfaltzgraff I collected Amalfi Classic.
2.d. Eventually, the Royal Doulton store closed as well. However, the Waterford/Wedgewood store, which was nearby, took on some of the Royal Doulton inventory. From Wedgewood, I picked up the India pattern. This store carried the Johnson brothers patterns such as Willow-Blue, Old Britain Castles Pink, and Friendly Village.
2.e. T J Maxx and Marshalls are chains of discount clothing and housewares stores in the US. I was able to pick up pieces of some nice patterns. One particularly nice one was Hutschenreuther's "Baroness Gold" pattern. Another was Nikko's "Precious" pattern as well as its sister pattern "Flirtatious".
2.d. Macy's is a global chain of department stores. Here I collected Lenox's "British Colonial" pattern.
I'm not really into antique china, though I have a few pieces that are 50 or 60 years old. Many of the patterns I own have ceased to be made, but they were still being made when I bought them.
The patterns mentioned above are the most important ones in my collection. You may be wondering how I kept them organized. The answer: Boxes, lots and lots of boxes. I stored extra place settings wherever I could, but one place setting in each pattern was kept in a box, with bubble wrap separating the individual pieces to prevent scratches.
I keep track of the pattern on tap for a particular day by consulting a chart that's on the side of my refrigerator. The chart tells which tablecloth colours are best for the pattern in question. I only use one pattern on any particular day. As pieces get dirty, I rinse them under the faucet, dry them, and put them back on the table for later meals.