The collector: Paige Smith, graphic/web/product designer, Calgary AB, Canada.
The collection: Orphaned fine bone china saucers, most of them made in England.
The story behind the collection....
In 2005, I took a three-month sabbatical from my job as a web designer. It was during this time that I began to try and make something with some of the objects I had collected over many years, which included china saucers.
Through some trial and error, I had a happy accident where I transformed saucers into jewelry/ring holders. I knew I had designed something special when I took a few ring holders to work and my colleagues purchased them very quickly as Christmas gifts.
From this point on, I started buying saucers every chance I could get. I found them at the flea market, in second-hand thrift stores and on my travels to different cities. Much to my surprise, people would just give me stacks of saucers that had been sitting in their basement for years, not really seeing the value in them anymore once the matching cup is broken.
Then through dealers at a local antique store, I found out about Mary Nielsen, a fascinating lady who had collected more than 18,000 saucers over a period of 50 years. If you think about it, that’s like collecting 365 saucers a year, or 1 saucer a day for half-a-century! You can read more about her story, here at my blog. I was fortunate enough to be able to hand-pick what remained of her saucer collection and bring home hundreds of saucers to call my own.
I love how beautiful and different the patterns are. It is not very often that I come across the same china patterns twice, so I am never bored. And when I see a stack of saucers at a flea market, I am so happy. The discovery of admiring each saucer one-by-one is so exciting and fun! And I love the idea of rescuing something that has been orphaned and giving it a new life that is useful once again.
I have been collecting saucers mainly for about the last 3 – 4 years. At the last count, I had over 1,000! They are kept in my studio stacked in rows of ten on a large white book shelf from IKEA. Each saucer rests on a coffee filter to protect it from getting chipped and worn. Some of my favourites are displayed on plate stands throughout my apartment.
I love them all! Since I am not picky about manufacturers, as long as I like the pattern of the saucer and it is in great condition, then it comes home with me. And I never go searching for a particular pattern… they find me!
I have many other collections but they are more micro. Everything from old notebooks, paper ephemera, buttons, wooden thread spools, playing cards, feathers/fabric flowers, metal cookie cutters, glass door knobs, dice/game pieces, lace & trims, and almost anything with bunnies.
And that is all that I am willing to admit to at the moment!
I don’t think there really ever is an end to a collection so I guess there is always the possibility of it being on the verge of out of control. Especially when it comes to space and storage issues. Luckily, I have a happy home for all of my saucers so this is a non-issue for now. But my fiancé will ask, “Don’t you have enough saucers?” And my answer to that is, “Of course not! You can never have too many!”
The way I see it, I could never turn my back on an orphaned beautiful saucer, because if I don’t rescue it and give it a new life, who will?
Am I obsessed? Well, crazy people never know they are crazy, so no, I am not obsessed.
All images © Paige Smith