Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Wee Cuppa of Unknown Origins

Sometimes you end up rescuing a family heirloom with absolutely no idea why you are doing it and then have no luck whatsoever at finding any back story about the item.  You end up giving a home to a piece that deserves closure but will most probably not get it.

About a month ago I went to an estate sale out in the country.  I was tempted on many fronts and had just about decided to bring home a Regulator wall clock, when I turned a corner and found myself looking at a silverware chest that contained a full basic set of an 1847 Wm. Rogers silver-plate pattern called "First Love".  It also had a dozen or so odds and ends of other patterns lumped in with it, but a quick check proved that there was a complete 8-place setting service, plus a child's fork and spoon, and some serving spoons.  

I don't need any more flatware.  I have too much as it is.  I have my fancy Old Country Roses flatware with the gold accents that I acquired a few years back to go with my Old Country Roses china.  I have Mother's Wm. Rogers Dubonnet stainless set with all the extra serving pieces.  I have my eBay completed (more than completed) set of Grypsholm that my Grandmother Wilcoxen started for me when I was in my teens.  I am working on completing (more than completing, of course) my cousin Amanda's set of Springtime, also started by our Grandmother but which had not progressed past the serving pieces and a few teaspoons.  Thanks to eBay, it too is now more than fully complete, with the exception of my needing to add a few salad forks to the mix.

So I absolutely do not need any more flatware.

I turned my back on the useful clock and brought home the chestful of First Love flatware.  I figured I could always turn it around on eBay or in the store booth if I decided I had made a mistake.

It turns out that First Love is a very collectible pattern.  There are sets on eBay similar to the one I brought home with asking prices more than double what I paid for mine.  The more I studied it, the better I liked it.  It has a nice, elegant pattern that is not too fussy or frilly or flowery, just the way I like things.  So, I started monitoring eBay with the idea of adding the serving pieces to my set.  Eventually.  Because this is silver-plate, the prices are relatively steep and I'm thinking I may just add a piece here and there when I'm cruising the vendors at the Round Top Antiques Fairs.  Gives me something specific to look for while I'm wandering around.  No rush.  If I need silverware, I have drawers full of it to use in the meantime.

The eBay feeds alerted me to the fact that not only did the company produce flatware in the First Love pattern, there are also big silver-plate platters and butter dishes and other assorted service pieces.  Well, those are way out of my price range, so probably not going to be adding any of those to my collection.

But, one day, along came a baby's silver cup with a First Love handle across the screen.  The dealer was selling it for dirt cheap because it was engraved.  I watched it for a few days and nobody seemed interested in bidding on a cup that carried an unknown name and date on its side. I finally said "oh, well" and put in a bid.  For a mere $.99 and shipping, the cup took up residence.

1847 Wm. Rogers First Love Flatware

First Love baby cup

Naturally, seeing as how I rescue other folks' ancestor photos all the time, I felt sure I could probably manage to find out something about the person whose name was engraved on the cup.  (That would make the purchase a little more justified in my mind.)

But, even with the full name of "Nancy Kay Knight" and a date of 4-10-51 to work with, I'm finding no data convincing enough to tie the cup to any particular person.  Of course this little girl would now be a grown lady of age 63, probably long married.  And finding people who are most probably still living is a lot more difficult than finding folks who died a century ago.

So, I'm posting this item in the hopes that someone out there knows who this particular Nancy Kay Knight is and, if interested in claiming her baby cup, will get in touch.

The little cup is such a pretty little thing that it reminded me that I have my own silver-plate baby cup that, I believe, was given to me by my Great aunt Fay Branton, who probably purchased it at Scarbroughs in downtown Austin where she worked for many years.  It has been tucked away for decades, but not forgotten.  Mine isn't engraved and the only identification on the bottom is "Community", which is a less desirable brand, but I am glad that I have it.

Mine, on the left, is in severe need of polishing.  And I haven't identified the pattern.  Yet.  Just what I needed, another project.  Thanks, Nancy Kay.


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