Let me explain… My family has been collecting Quimper dishes for three generations, maybe four. And for those four generations, every dinner plate, platter, soup tureen, salad plate, cake plate, oyster plate, mustard jar, salt cellar, tea set…every single solitary piece has crossed our path. This is definitely the Smith family collection. Smith is my mother’s maiden name as well as my aunt and my grandmother’s married name… The Quimper Collectors. So, imagine this, you collect a certain pattern with gusto for your whole life, so you must’ve had conversations about this pattern to hundreds of people including salespeople (“I would like to order a 5 Piece place setting for 12 of Quimper, please.”), antique dealers (“What is the price of this antique Quimper butter dish?”), your family (“Can I borrow the Quimper fish platter?”), housekeepers (“Please only hand wash the Quimper.”), and to your children (“You can have my Quimper after I die, so take care of it.”) You must’ve said the word “Quimper” thousands and thousands and thousands of times over the generations. But in my family, we found out last year, yes, just last year that we had been pronouncing the word “Quimper” incorrectly the entire time! The entire time! For at least 100 years! You would think someone would have checked the pronunciation. But, no. So yes, we are stupid. The correct pronunciation is similar to “cam pair.” It does not, as the O’Connell’s say it, rhyme with “wimper.”
Things like this happen to our family all the time. This is why my family has such a good sense of humor. However, I have to admit, the source of our laughter usually stems from my mother. I could start an entire blog titled, “Stuff my mother says.” It has been an endless source of entertainment for my sister and me. Do not be mistaken, we are not laughing with my mother, it is definitely at my mother. However, after we explain to my mother just exactly what she had said or done, she laughs hysterically and then eats a candy bar or chocolate croissant. Please remind me later to tell you about the time my mother got stuck in the train doors at Versailles. But for today, I thought I would tell you what my mother said yesterday according to my sister. My sister told me that she and my mother were having a conversation about canning vegetables. My sister said she did not like to can vegetables from her garden because the canning sterilization process is so difficult. My mother said very seriously and emphatically, “Yes, do you know that green beans have killed more people than any other vegetable?” Obviously, she was referring to botulism… But in her own special way. My family spent the remainder of the day teasing my mother about dangerous violent green beans.
So, when I say my mother has a collection of Quimper, I mean she has a c-o-l-l-e-c-t-i-o-n. My family loves Quimper. My grandmother used to blow out Easter eggs and then delicately and perfectly hand paint the Quimper pattern onto the eggs. She also painted the Quimper pattern onto flour containers, sugar containers and bread boxes. I included a photo. My mother baked sugar cookies and then made royal icing and painted the Quimper pattern (in icing!) on the cookies and made them into Christmas tree ornaments. The entire tree (no other ornaments that year) was covered with my mother’s Quimper cookies hung with navy blue ribbon.
Collectors can get rather particular about their Quimper and its history and markings. If you’re into that kind of stuff, you might like this article HERE.
So that’s it for the dishes obsession blogs. Tomorrow I thought we could end the series by looking at my favorite table settings to bring this full circle. Thank you for all of your nice comments. Or, as my mother would say thank you in French, “Mercy.”