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A Soupefying Treasure

I saw a soup tureen online two or three years ago and fell in love with it.  I wanted it. I admired it,  I imagined owning it, and I imagined what I would do with it.  I then debated about purchasing it, I then bid, I was outbid, I bid again...and then again, and then once again...and alas it was mine, all mine. For days I patiently (not really) awaited its arrival via the big brown truck.

I really desired to own it...not because as a collector and dealer I knew it was a true antique, not because it's hard to locate a tureen from the 1830's, and not because I planned to serve soup in it...none of those silly things,  but because  it matched my bedroom and bathroom color scheme. That's why I wanted it...and I knew exactly what I'd do with it.

The day came when my soup tureen arrived. I was chomping at the bit to get into that box. Through packing tape, styrofoam peanuts and bubble wrap my treasure emerged. (you can double click pics in any of my posts to enlarge)

Come to find out, my treasure really is a sort of treasure. The dealer I purchased this from had not thoroughly researched the makers mark / backstamp (usually found on the underside of pottery). Even though I paid a pretty penny I knew I'd gotten a fair deal for this piece considering the age, condition, color and type of piece it was.

I decided to do some research on my tureen. I began with the obvious to me, which was  the makers mark on the back. 

It reads Chantilian (pattern name) and R & C.  R & C stands for Read and Clementson, Staffordshire potters at High Street at Shelton, Hanley.   This firm, as with many of the early transferware manufacturers, had a short production period from 1833-35.  I was elated to know I had found such an early piece, nearly 200 years of age, and that it must be quite rare being that it was produced by a firm that was in business for a mere two years.  I researched further and found nothing on my pattern and only two or three mentions of R & C in my Staffordshire books.  One mention was in Jeffrey Snyders Romantic Staffordshire Ceramics where he shows a photo of a plate in another pattern by R & C but no additional  information is given. 

I kept looking and looking until one day I found something that had me totally, eh, er, I  mean stupefied.  I discovered that a shipwreck had taken place about 7 nautical miles off the coast of England.   The site has been named the Bottle Wreck for the many beer and wine bottles and bottle shards  found in the scattered cargo around the bow area.  It has been determined that the ship was a wooden merchant sailing vessel that sank between 1833 and 1835.  This is based on the fact that...guess what....broken pottery and potsherds just north of a large cargo mound were found...and some of them were Read and Clementson (R & C) wares.   This is a short paragraph from the article I found about the wreck which I've linked to above: 
"The identification of the maker of one of the blue and white transfer printed willow pattern plates allows more accurate dating, as the pottery Read & Clementson only existed between 1833 and 1835. The terminus post quem for the sinking of the vessel is thus 1833. The terminus ante quem could tentatively be defined as 1835, but there is a possibility that Read & Clementson transfer printed ware continued to be traded after the pottery closed down."

I was extra excited to learn this...that my new to me,  180 yr old piece of pottery was a true rarity.   But what got me extra, extra, super duper excited was discovering that pieces made by R & C have been kept at an archaeological and nautical museum in Littlehampton!    It's one of my favorite pieces I own and the history of it...well, that's why it is so special and makes me feel that I've got a true treasure.  A museum worthy treasure!

I keep my treasure in plain sight so I can admire it every single day.  My soup tureen is my washcloth holder...yes I cleaned this, and soaked this, in a peroxide mixture before I ever put my washcloths in it (I'm OCD in case you haven't figured that out yet).

I'm linking up with Leigh for Thrifty Thursday which is hosted from her wonderful blog, Tales from Bloggeritaville (I love this name!) to Cindy at My Romantic Home for Show and Tell Friday,  and to Suzanne at Colorado Lady for Vintage Thingie Thursday.



  1. 1830's?!! Wow! That's amazing! It's beautiful and I love it as a washcloth holder. It looks great! Congratulations on your purchase.

  2. Wow, what a great post. Your tureen is beautiful & it's roll is a good way to use it... carefully.
    Beckie in Brentwood, TN

  3. What an absolutely terrific story! I love that you keep such a treasured item in plain site for all to enjoy.

  4. How lucky you are to find such an old piece. It is beautiful and I love that you use it everyday.

  5. Great story and I love your tureen. :)

  6. How imaginative you are! Until I found your blog it had never occurred to me to use my transferware anywhere but in the kitchen or the diningroom. Now I'm looking around to see where I could install a piece here and there. And I'm afraid I'm going to have to break down and actually purchase some of your wonderful items on Etsy...

  7. This is a beautiful tureen and I can see why you had to have it. When I acquire an antique I always wonder about the people that loved and used the piece.

  8. What an amazing treasure!!! How neat that you were able to track it's origins down and such an amazing history. The tureen was truly meant for you.

    - The Tablescaper

  9. Your treasure is quite beautiful and I love the way you're using it. Happy VTT..

  10. That's a great story. I would be afraid to use something that old. Your Etsy shop looks great too. I don't collect any dishes but may get a special cup and saucer to use for tea.

  11. What a beautiful treasure. I love how you have it filled in your bathroom, this is a great idea. I sorta agree with the above...I'd be afraid I'd break or chip this wonderful piece!! Have a great VTT!

  12. Beautiful tureen and a great find! I never thought about using a soup tureen to hold washcloths, so guess who's going to be on the lookout for soup tureens?

  13. That look great I have just a couple of the red N white transferware. I like to display it during Christmas. I havent been able to get a tureen yet they can be quite expensive. Thanks for shareing.

  14. Gorgeous! I love how you're using it, too. And how fun to know the history of your piece.

  15. It is interesting how you track down the history of a piece. I can imagine that is exciting. I like the tureen, just for itself.

  16. Amazing to have something that old! And it is beautiful in your bathroom holding towels.

  17. Gorgeous piece of history....looks lovely in your bathroom. I would be sooo afraid that is would get broken. I would have it inside a china cabinet or high in a bookcase somewhere. That is how I treat my wedding china...Spode Pink Tower. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Beautiful piece...great idea for repurposing! Thanks for telling us the history of this magnificent tureen. Cherry Kay


    That piece is AMAZING!!! Very envious!


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