Just wanted to start today’s blog with a big Merci! Thank you to everyone who took the time to tell me that they enjoy my blog. Your kind words and well wishes for my blog, my health and my family are wholly appreciated. However, don’t be afraid, just because I’m a sicky-poo with ALS, to send me comments of another nature. I can take it. I actually encourage it. It’s a free world…express yourself, I do. But, thank you, nonetheless, for the good-natured comments.
Continuing my obsession with dishes, today let’s take a look at French faience. In particular, French green faience.
Definition of faience: [fahy-ahns] noun.
As I mentioned the other day, my mother and I found, at the Parisian flea market (Marche aux Puces), a rare set of 18th-century French green dinnerware. We were at the flea market on the first buying trip for our antique shop in Santa Barbara named, Circa. More on that later. Anyway, we saw the dropdead gorgeous set of dishes in a dealer’s booth…but he was closed! Typical. There was no way we were going to leave that booth without those dishes. So we waited…and waited…and waited. My daughter, Gracie, was with us and she was about to lose her mind waiting for this antique dealer to show up. What seventh grader wants to sit around a flea market waiting for some Frenchman to finish his lunchtime quiche and salad and 4th glass of red wine for the day, only returning to begrudgingly sell her mother overpriced stupid green dishes? The only reason Gracie didn’t shoot me on the spot was because we promised her chocolate crêpes and a trip to Bonpoint in Paris for a new dress (obviously, Gracie can be bought). We work on a bribery system in my household and it seems to work.
The dealer finally showed up, opened up his little shop, and invited us inside. This particular seller only deals in vaisselle (dinnerware). His entire shop was floor-to-ceiling dishes. Dishes that you would commit crimes for. The shop was so jam-packed that we could barely make our way through…my favorite environment ever. I could have bought everything in the store, but we were on a mission for those green dishes. The set was complete, including dinner plates, salad plates, soup tureen, sauce boat, covered dishes, platters and dessert bowls. They were truly remarkable and in perfect condition. We asked the price. “Uhh, excusez-moi, how much did you say they were?” They were a small fortune, but we bought them anyway. Don’t feel too bad for me, I more than quadrupled the price when I sold them.
We had a private soft opening party for friends and family for our shop. Within five minutes of the doors opening, the dishes were sold. Sold, paid for, gone. I knew they were special. They were sold to one of my favorite interior designers. A few months later, lo and behold, they showed up on the cover of Veranda. This is a good lesson to learn to always go with your instincts, trust your intuition, and stay focused on the prize.
So what’s the big deal about these dishes? I have tried to do some research, but have come up short. There is not a lot of information on them. Maybe a reader out there has more information? If so, please send it my way. There is a sort of similar set available on 1stdibs.com HERE.
My mother was a little depressed that we sold them so she then decided to find the next best thing…a quality reproduction set that she could use as every day dishes. My mother ordered them in green and a warm yellow from a pottery factory in the South of France called Souleo de Provence, formerly Terre E Provence . The same family of producers have been using the same method of manufacture since the 19th century. The style she chose is called Louis XV. She ordered about 5 billion of them, of course (I’m not kidding, I saw the old invoice today and she ordered 292 pieces). They are very heavy and the colors are super rich. You can order them HERE.
Okay, because I’m not a total snob, I’m going to tell you where you can also buy them fairly cheap, but only if you promise to mix them in with your good stuff. There is a company called Le Cadeaux in Los Angeles that sells these dishes in lots of colors, dishwasher safe, oven safe and virtually unbreakable. I’m rolling my eyes as I write the word “dishwasher safe.” However, they are not too shabby and will do the trick. You can buy them HERE.
More of my favorite dishes tomorrow… Hint: tobacco.