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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tale of a teacup

I love everyday objects and the power they have to acquire meaning over time based on how, when, where and by whom they have been used. Over the years I have been continually drawn to them whether it has been in my studies in archaeology or in my work with contemporary objects in the museum where I work. Recently I have been exploring the history of everyday objects a little closer to home as we sort through the contents of Mum and Dad's house. At times this has been a fairly emotional journey but there have been some lovely memories and surprises along the way.

Before Christmas, while carefully packing up my parents 'special' crockery and cutlery I came across this teacup and saucer (one of a set of four matching cups, saucers and side-plates) produced by the Japanese company Noritake. According to the Noritake Australia website 'by the late 1960s Noritake had become a household name and such was its popularity almost every Australian couple married during this period received a Noritake dinnerset as a wedding present'. I'm not sure how Mum acquired this set but it may well have been as a wedding a gift as she was married in 1966. The pattern was produced between 1964 and 1982 and has a very 60s feel to it with its geometric stripes in white, grey and gold complimented by a platinum rim.

Mum was very fond of this set which she always referred to as her 'Noritake', never the stripey cups or the 60s set, so when I came to wrapping it I took extra care. I was by myself in the half empty house waiting for my sister and feeling a little sorry for myself. As I held the cup in my hand I turned it over to see the famous Noritake backstamp then caught my breath - the pattern was called 'Isabella'. Now every morning as I sip my tea from this cup I feel a restored connection between grandmother and grand-daughter.


  1. Oh, that's just wonderful. :-)
    The world is a strange place...
    Will Isabella get it passed down to her?

  2. Yes, I will definately pass it on to Isabella. Life is strange and wonderful sometimes isn't it?

  3. Dear Caz,

    How wonderful to connect and read such beautiful writing.. Your story is moving... and sparks my memory too...

    My mum has a Noritake set too.
    Not a wedding present but a hard earned set, bought on layby and costing a months salary.

    As the eldest child in the family I have put in my claim. Mum is happy that I care so much.

    Until recently I had little interest in mum's things but it is the stories behind them that now touches me.

    The orchid design dinner set was our best dinner set and rarely used. It was kept in the best dining room hidden in a sideboard.

    For years I was against keeping things for best. My family seemed to have two of everything one for everyday and one for best.
    But it was hardly ever best.
    In fact her things became too precious to be used at any time.

    Now I joke with mum, suggesting that perhaps now, in her 'best' years, she could use her Noritake and crystal glasses.

    Her story about arriving in Australia with just a suitcase and over years building her nest so that she could have a best, is touching.

    Once a year, she takes them out and washes her best then puts them back lovingly.

    These 'bests' are precious to her and becoming precious to me too.

    Thank you for sharing... and allowing me to remember... Lynne

  4. Thank you for that lovely response Lynne - it's great to hear from you. I can't wait to read your blog when it's ready too.