A Flower Garden All Year Round

Collecting

Story by Kathy Wagstaff

Collecting colorful Chintz China has become a cheerful preoccupation for many and members of the Chintz Collectors' Club have the patterns to prove it. With hundreds of collectors and dealers from the United States, Canada, England, Australia and New Zealand, this association is quickly growing along with the popularity of the china. Last year the club was named the "Fastest Growing Collectors' Society of the Year," by West Coast Peddler Magazine.

Chintz China, manufactured in the 1920's to the late 60's, is named after the colorful patterns printed on cotton fabric in India in the late 17th century. Although the brilliant earthenware was originally produced for daily use and was inexpensive, the intricate designs painted on by hand has brought the china to new heights and new prices.

This summer, the well known Christie's South Kensington Auction House in London will hold an auction devoted entirely to chintz. Complete sets can bring thousands of of dollars.

At last year's Chintz Convention in Florida, a live auction revealed the rising values of chintz. A unique Royal Winton "Julia" teapot brought $4,200; a Royal Winton "Florence" breakfast set sold for $3,200; a Royal Winton "Welbeck" breakfast set was worth $3,000 and a Royal Winton "Sunshine" lamp sold for $1,700.

Formed just four years ago for collectors and dealers of chintz, the club hosts an annual convention in the United States and also an international convention. The goals of the Chintz Collectors' Club is to keep its members informed about developments in the world of chintz. Advice on purchasing high quality chintz, news of popular patterns and their availability, dealer profiles and free advertisements are some of the perks available to the collector or dealer through the quarterly newsletter.

Co-Presidents Jane Fehrenbacher and Carolyn Fox have been working for months on the annual convention set to open in Pasadena, CA, in late April. An auction of rare chintz, educational workshops, tables of chintz for sale and tours of homes filled with the unique china will be featured.

"We are all very excited about the convention and, by the way, collecting chintz has grown in popularity," said Fehrenbacher. "Belonging to the club is a wonderful way to network with other chintz collectors and to obtain valuable information about the chintz world as well as to buy and sell chintz."

Dues for the club cost $40 each year which entitles the member to receive a high quality newsletter filled with information and colored photographs. In addition to The Chintz Collectors' Club, an international club which focuses on Royal Winton, is available to collectors and dealers.

Located in England, The Royal Winton International Collectors' Club costs $50 in annual fees and provides a bi-monthly newsletter which offers information on Royal Winton as well as other chintz patterns.

Chintz is wonderfully varied with more than 200 beautiful patterns. "Four of the major and most sought after producers in England were Royal Winton, Lord Nelson Ware, James Kent Ltd., and Crown Ducal," said

Fehrenbacher. "The production of chintz did require an amazing amount of handwork because the designs were transferred by hand from lithographs on to the individual piece. The knowledge that a young woman spent hours placing the transfer patterns on each piece of chintz makes that much more appreciative of the treasure."

The process, which resembles the application of a decal, required meticulous cutting and matching to ensure that the joins of each piece were practically invisible. Gilding the piece of china by hand was completed before firing.

Complete dinner sets, tea pots and coffee pots , bud vases and serving pieces are all collectible. Some collectors focus their search for a single pattern. Others enjoy mixing and matching the colorful designs.Still others will only collect tea cups in as many patterns as possible. With names like "June Roses," "Heather" and "Sweet Pea," the colorful patterns evoke a feeling of fresh Spring breezes and English Gardens.

Club members recommend reading about chintz and becoming knowledgeable about the china before making big purchases. There are imitations and damaged chintz on the market. Four books recommended for reading are: The Charlton Standard Catalog of Chintz, second edition, by Linda Eberle and Susan Scott, The  Charlton Press, 1977; Chintz by Design, Bonnie Heller& Felijoy, Chintz International, LLC, 1997; Collecting Royal Winton Chintz, Muriel M. Miller, Francis Joseph Publications, 1996 and Chintz Ceramics, JoAnne P. Welsh, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996.

Chintz is one of the hottest collectibles, says Fehrenbacher. So open those cabinets and china closets and take a closer look at that china. There may be surprises inside.

1999

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