As my kind visitor Eddie Ross recently pointed out herein, one may not be shopping at Hoagland's of Greenwich. I will admit to you that the Hostess does indeed shop there because:
1. I live here and people I know get married, buy new houses, have kids, and die around town and on those occasions, a gift from Hoagland's is occasionally lovely or necessary (in the the case of registries).
2. I have a child, soon two, and they have some truly adorable kid's things.
3. They have a twice yearly sale. The most recent started two weeks ago and is on going: Most of the marks are just okay, not really great until they are well into the sale period: This is a great time to buy their embroidered pieces, linens, and this year, a good deal of china and some unbelievable sterling items. Now you know my secret, use it wisely.
Inspiration springs to mind after a visit to a store such as Hoagland's whether you shop in spots like it or not. But if one is not prepared to drop tens of thousands to outfit their dinner party(and God reward you for it, I might add): What then?
Firstly, remember that patience is a virtue - a rewarded one. Very fine things will turn up in any price range, but it takes a little work. You've actually got to get out there and look for the stuff when you can. It is not going to fall into your outstretched hand.
From Katonah came the set of unused blue damask napkins, 8 for $5 and the footed dessert stand, also $5. I will find a million uses for that piece. At St. Lukes I found the silver plate bread basket for $1 (I always buy these when I see them, I never have enough as they serve tons of uses and I always know someone who could use one.) and the silver tray for $3 (listen up, Chums because this is important: Never ever put acidic foods directly on silver. This includes these offenders: Tomatoes, anything pickled, anything with dark cola soda in it.).
I will be very frank with you and tell you that our home in Florida is in a fine neck of the woods, a place where swank folks from elsewhere come to hang out or retire. I never dreamed there would be the dearth of great antiques and heirloom pieces at sales and shops, but it is a fact. It is as if everyone sold off every last piece of Grandmother's Thomas Hill's right before high tailing it to the shore for the rest of their days.
Close up of the napkins. I have a damask addiction problem which I am not working to correct.
I know that many of the sort of items on which I serve and consequently am constantly hunting towards my collection, are the sorts of things people no longer wish to maintain: Silver (I detest polishing too, it is a fact of life.). Hand painted porcelain dinner services (which should never enter a dishwasher, the Hostess does not care if the machine claims to have a "China setting"). Napkins which require pressing. And so on. Given the lack of time or patience for handling these items, I know two things are true: 1. Many people just stopped reading, and 2. People who stopped reading consider their Grandmother's items of this genre a wasteful albatross and they are forever donating or consigning them. That's where I come in: Happy to take those precious items off your hands.
A cloche of some sort, it is going to be a butter dish now. I love the dome and the fluted saucer. It was $5 at St. Luke's, probably not anything great as it is unmarked but it has a fabulous shape.
Now then. Westchester and Fairfield, where I hang my hat on all the other days, unlike our corner of Florida, is a virtual hot bed of traditional domestic refinement in some areas. And there are several teensy little charity thrift shops which get the benefit of all the donating and consigning. Notably: The Katonah Women's Civic Shop, The Ridgefield Shop, The St. Luke's Shop, and Twigs of Mt. Kisco. I go occasionally, mostly to visit my Mother who generously gives her time to one of these shops, and never fail to find something great. That is to say, something I love: I know good marks but I am not an expert of any sort. I buy what appeals to me and will pass by a really fine maker if it does not appeal. What matters is the beauty I find in the piece, not the mark though they often coincide.
That is the inventory slip on the Japanese Meiko china service I bought at Twigs. Three cases worth for $35. My husband happened to be on the phone at the time from deployment and I could barely contain myself. I heard him groan and mumble that our non-existent butler's pantry really is becoming an issue because my other problem is china. Often these addictions go hand in hand...
This is the pattern. I researched it for this post and found nothing though replacements.com has assigned it a temporary pattern number. They have one piece and it literally has one-third missing from an evil looking break. The shop thinks it is pre-war but then, don't they always? I bought it because it is gorgeous and I love yellow, I will try to find out more but I adore it regardless.
Earlier this week, in order to illustrate the point that beautiful things can be found at any price point, I did this bit of nosing around above in these local shops. The pictures you are viewing was the result of this weeks' (admittedly hasty) visits, the haul was not as great as usual. Additionally, I found a beautiful coffee set of English ironstone which will look madly fitting in my kitchen's walnut sideboard. However, earlier when I needed to photo it, why, I could not find the ironstone's crate. I will provide a picture forthwith but advise you now that the whole kit and kaboodle was $10. Now I have found the ironstone and misplaced the camera; admittedly, an 18 month old can be a distracting assistant.
You see my point: Beautiful refinements are not only for the lucky few with an endless well of money. No, indeed. They are for those willing to do a bit of leg work.