Winter Scenes is a delightful set of twelve plates featuring scenes from the library of hand-coloured lithographs by Currier & Ives, the iconic American printmaking firm that was run by Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives.
The line from the Christmas carol “Sleigh Ride” “It’ll nearly be like a picture print by Currier and Ives” dances through my head every time I look at them. They’re just so quintessentially New England!
Wikipedia tells us that “‘All lithographs were produced on lithographic limestone printing plates on which the drawing was done by hand. A stone often took over a week to prepare for printing. Each print was pulled by hand. Prints were hand-colored by a dozen or more women, often immigrants from Germany with an art background. They worked in assembly-line fashion, one color to a worker, and who were paid $6 for every 100 colored prints.”
Despite the length of time it took to produce each stone, the firm was nothing if not prolific. Between the years of 1834 and 1895, their artists produced two or three new images a week.
Adams China Company of England produced the plates in the 1920s.
I notice from the backstamp of one of the plates, it’s attributed to N. Currier, Lithographer so it must be from the images that were produced before Ives joined the firm as partner in 1857.
I love the scenes in the centre, but the exuberantly executed border of holly and I am guessing, mistletoe? in an unusual combination of grey and yellow really caught my interest.
So I had to track down the plates and set a table! With the greatest of respect to Replacements, the cost of their plates got me gasping a bit, On to eBay I went and managed to find all twelve. I was lucky enough to get five in one go, and the rest in ones and twos.
Unfortunately, it’s not all a good news story. Either the vendors were incredibly poor packers or these plates are more fragile than they look, as three plates arrived broken clean across. I was more than a little upset. The vendors were all very good about issuing refunds, but that wasn’t the point. I managed to glue the three plates together, so they’ll serve as delicate cabinet plates, but nothing else. Grrrrr…. If you look closely at #4 In the Country, #8 Winter Pastime and #12, Home Wilderness you’ll see the repair job.
I managed to replace all three in the following months. So the full set has been restored. Happy days 🙂
Despite all the drama, I had a great deal of fun planning and setting the table.
A combination of white church-like and grey metal houses from Pier 1 were a natural fit.
The grey metal ones come in two sizes. The front of the houses are hinged so you can open them to hold a candle. I used glass tea lights, but they’d also accommodate a larger pillar candle.
The white ones are discontinued, I believe, though you can still get a blue version online. There may be some white ones kicking around in the bricks and mortar stores.
Grey and yellow flannel napkins, with a hint of red from Williams Sonoma were the perfect addition to the table. I don’t see them online anymore. I think they were a fall item.
The Fiddlehead napkin rings from World Market were just the right shape to keep the holly secure on the napkin.
I gathered a bunch of holly from a tree we have in the garden, and supplemented its non-berry state with some red berry clusters from Amazon. I take it we have only one sex of holly bush on our property, so I’ll have to sort that at out at some point. I wonder how you determine if your holly bush is male or female, if it’s not producing any berries?
It was one of those tables I left up for a few days to enjoy. The holly held up extremely well. Those shiny, spikes leaves are very resilient.
Tiffin Franciscan Amber goblets from Replacements were the perfect shade of yellow to coordinate with the plates.
The runner was a deeply discounted end-of-season offering from Pottery Barn. The galvanized chargers are from Pottery Barn, this year. The flatware is Twig from World Market.
I tucked the Friendly Village salt and pepper shakers into the scene, also, to bolster the houses.
A happy winter table. Not strictly Christmas, but has that overall flavour, don’t you think?
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with their families! We are now happily in the throes of Christmas preparations. Outside lights and decor are in place, the trees are up, and wrapping has begun. Fun!
I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.