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.
Another beautiful table. For such a humble materiel, the galvanized chargers and buildings elevate the place settings, it is the perfect metal choice for this china.
I went to the usual sources to see what was available and was surprised to find the same scenes with different borders and in a black and white version. I agree with your selection of the the mistletoe and holly border, it is by far the most interesting. If I was not currently remodeling a bathroom (and tracking down insect brooches for Charnwood) you might have some competition on e-bay.
By the way, your cranberry chutney is delicious!
Thank you, Elizabeth! I was surprised at how well the galvanized material went, too.
How is the insect brooch hunt going? I’m dying to see the completed table with all those gorgeous pins-as-napkin-rings 🙂
And lastly, the cranberry chutney lasts forever in the fridge, so don’t hesitate to make lots.
Thanks again for visiting and commenting. It’s always such a pleasure to hear from you.
SO indicative of New England style!!! And that’s what I love most about Currier and Ives at Christmas time. This is a beautifully styled table, and the dishes are just BEYOND!!!!!!! The locomotive and pastoral scenes are my favorites!!!
Thanks, Alycia, for your very kind comments. New England and Christmas do seem to go hand-in-hand, don’t they? I love the maple sugaring the best. Oh, and the skating scene. Have a great day! HK
This is wonderful. Those dishes depict such wonderful scenes and I do love the colors. I enjoyed learning about Currier and Ives. I adore how you set up the center arrangement with the lantern houses. I have a few and want to do something different with them- great inspiration!
Thanks Liz! I love anything with houses – plates, lanterns, ornaments. Just one of those things! And I fell for the galvanized ones at Pier 1 right away. They were amazingly well priced, and I got them on sale, to boot. i think they’ll do yeoman work over the years to come.
Send pictures of what you do with yours!! I’d love to see 🙂
Have a great evening.
I have a few of these plates also and have been trying to complete the set since we have broken several over the decades.
I like to set mine up with German smoking men (Räuchermännchen) with woodsmen, miners, skaters, skiers, mushroom gatherers, marksmen and even Santa’s depending on the dinner guests.
I liked the house lanterns as an alternative and may borrow your idea this year.
I stalked eBay and endured several broken arrivals and returns before my set was complete. Patience…
What a fabulous backdrop to the plates you have engineered! So cool! And it’s always nice to have options, so I hope the House lanterns work out.
Thanks for stopping by.
Dear Pam, I was looking for Currier and Ives Christmas plates as I recently received my Mother’s set after her passing. I have far too much “stuff” and too few cupboards. The set is a complete one of twelve dinner plates in pristine condition…not a chip on any. Seeing that you are trying to complete your set, I wondered if you would be interested in purchasing mine. It would be a shame to break up the set, so I would like to sell all twelve pieces together. When you have a chance, please let me know and I would be happy to send you photos and decide on a reasonable price. Thanks so much.
I inherited half of my Grandmother’s set and am looking for the other six.
Would you be interested in selling six of your set?
I made a list of what I have and not sure what I’m missing!
The lanterns and table is absolutely lovely. Got to get me some of those lanterns.
Thanks, Sandy! Good luck with the lanterns. They’re on sale!
My youngest is a big fan of gray and you have found so many grays, metallic, fabric and china. Very nice.
Grey has been very big the last few years, hasn’t it? Makes the mix and match job so much easier! I wasn’t sure which direction I’d go with those plates, but the grey seemed to unify the table, so that’s where we went! Have a great weekend. It’s December…three weeks or so till Christmas!
What lovely and unique plates you have shared. The scenes so beautifully depict northern winters of the past. And, the border design is so detailed and subtle. I love the addition of the galvanized pieces and the Greenery. I am so happy for you that you were able to complete your set and replace the plates that were broken.
It is difficult to tell colors on a monitor, but for a different look I would love to see the green of the plate’s border repeated in either napkins or even a tablecloth. Of course, sometimes I get ideas and then when I try them out they don’t quite work. I imagine most Tablescapes work by trial and error. Thank you for sharing. MM
Great idea on the green, Marie. It would make another interesting twist on this table. In real life, it’s almost a Kelly green, but there are subtle shades which could be picked up. Like you, I find it’s all trial and error. You think you’re going in one direction and then end up at another place entirely. Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a good weekend.
I am cleaning out things of my late mother. I came accross two plates of the winter scenes. A home in the wilderness and maple sugaring. How much are these platyes worth?
I’d suggest you check out eBay for current pricing. You can search for Adams Currier & Ives Plates and look for plates of similar condition to get a guideline.
I had a plate sever right in half after a “helpful” soul put water on their dirty plate in bottom of kitchen sink overnight. I found it in the morning and had one half a plate in each hand as I picked it up.
Oooh – sounds like it might have had a hairline crack. I hope you were able to glue it back together.
Thank you for sharing this! I stumbled upon a set of 12 dinner; lunch; cups and saucers, serving platter and two serving bowls at an estate sale. JUST LOVE! And I love your setting!! This year I used green chargers with red stemware, and placemats, but intend to change up using some of your ideas next year. Simply stunning!!
It’s such a classic pattern, isn’t it Tamara? What luck you had to get the entire set! I’m sure it will be a much-loved part of your Christmas celebrations for years to come.