The Undeniable Charm of Pink Flowers

in defense of old china

A. Christine Myers


Flowered china, image, © the author

It seldom fails: the unaccountable allure of a few tiny pink roses painted on fine china.

I have walked into many an antique store, vintage shop, resale shop — sometimes with entirely other plans and sometimes merely with an open mind. I have come out carefully hoisting a paper bag full of white china sprinkled with little pink roses. Or perhaps just a single teacup, English bone china with a large spray of pink flowers on the face of said cup, a little sprig on the inside, and one or two on the saucer.

To do the teacups justice, there are a good many of them with other flowers in other colors, in particular the most delightful purple violets. (I love violets.) But the purchase of each of the above are a complete mystery when I honestly believed I was searching for something undeniably modernist or something distinctly folk in style. Or any of my other temporary whims, so easily cast aside in favor of a few roses.

Our kitchen is currently stocked in a selection so well-matched that they might have been curated for the purpose. I assure you they were not. It happens.

On the soup bowls we have managed to find some information. It’s a Haviland pattern, produced from the nineteen-thirties through the fifties. Online they can be purchased for a good deal more than the price we paid at the local antique mall.

they might have been curated for the purpose

The lady at the counter was mildly astonished when my sister showed up from our search of the back shelves, emerging with the set of four bowls stacked cautiously in her hands. Yes, they both checked and rechecked the listed price: two dollars a bowl. Perfect condition, I might add, with lovely raised detailing, crisp from the original mold.

I am not much of a food stylist myself, but even I will admit that soups taste somehow better from pretty bowls.

And pretty they undoubtedly are, whatever your aesthetic, whether you appreciate prettiness or prefer other effects. Their roundel of pink and yellow roses is the essence of prettiness in old china. You may like it or not, but so many have liked it over the past two hundred years. That is why so much…