I found out several years ago, during the last visit from my Dutch grandparents, why us Dutch are so obsessive about cleanliness. In Holland, with much of the land below sea-level, they are constantly combating the damp sea air and the mold and mildew that would take over if they were not vigilant. My grandmother remembers regular airings of the bedding – coming home from school to find her father had thrown all of the 10 children’s mattresses out of the upstairs windows to be beaten and aired on the bushes and clotheslines. Neatness was essential, and I guess the habit gets ingrained in the Dutch – and their descendants. I know my mom got the gene, and definitely did her best to pass it on to her children.
I guess some days I am truer to my roots than others….it has been many days, (ok, years) since I cleaned my delft collection. Thing is, it doesn’t just need to be dusted – it was on a shelf above my stove in my last kitchen, and it got DIRTY. Greasy, grimy, and dusty. I didn’t have time to wash it when I packed it last summer (or wasn’t feeling very dutch), so it went into the boxes dirty. And some of it came out dirty, and sat on new shelves here – you guessed it – dirty. Finally the other day I collected all my delft – even going up to my storage rooms to find the final boxes that had not been unpcaked – and washed it all.
It was amazing to see how my collection has grown since I got married! I think before my bridal showers, I had a half dozen small pieces – a teacup, a vase, a small plate in my hopechest. By the time I got married, dear friends had added to my collection till I had a full tea set, and 3 tea pots total! Through the past years another piece has arrived occasionally, each time a most thoughtful gift from friends who know me well enough to know how special my dutch china collection is to me. I don’t really collect anything else. Good thing, with the way this collection is growing!
Then, a friend bequeathed me with a lovely, antique hutch that just completes my eclectic dinning room furniture set. It was the added shelves and the room to display the whole collection in one place that inspired me to finally bring it all out. It was lovely to relive memories and thoughts of special people in my life as I washed each piece and set it out to dry. It was a big job for one day – I still have to get it all arranged and set up the way I want it, then I will post more pictures.
My latest piece is a bit of a mystery to me – thus this post. I’m hoping someone out there (Auntie, perhaps?) can help me figure out its purpose or function. There have been several guesses so far, which leads to a funny story.
At our housewarming last fall, I received two darling little pieces of delft from some dear friends. They knew I loved delft and had found these pieces at their local antique shop. One was a vase, and the other, I knew immediately, was an ash tray. Our friends were a bit embarrassed that they had actually gifted us an ashtray ☺ until I explained that this piece would actually be extra special to me! You see, the many of the dutch (including my own grandfather) smoke, so there is are many unique pieces that are ash trays. One of my favorite of my mother’s collection is a miniature house, with a chimney that smokes when a cigarette is set inside the door. ☺ So, an ash tray was a sentimental and welcome addition to my collection. It has been a bit of a joke between us and the G. family ever since.
When Mr. G. presented me with this latest piece, it was on condition that I could tell him what it was. His guess was “a cigar holder!” Other guesses have been, a planter, or a candle holder. It is certainly a unique piece, and I would love to know if you recognize its purpose.