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Antiques Considered - February 26, 2014

A gentleman from the lower Northern Neck found this Japanese tea service packed away in his barn.  It includes the teapot, lidded sugar, creamer, six cups and saucers and six dessert plates.  All of the pieces are in excellent condition, and most are marked with a stylized leaf design on the bottom, with “Made in Japan.”

This service dates from the interwar years, and is typical of the time when Japanese factories copied other countries’ production.  Initially, these pieces resemble the gold finished wares of the Pickard firm founded in 1894 by Wilder Austin Pickard in Wisconsin, and later moved to Illinois.  Pickard specialized in a rusticated gold finish on some of its finest pieces.  Pickard, which still produces fine china, originally specialized in dessert sets.  The firm is still in business, and provides china for the United States Department of State for use in our embassies abroad.

 Another giveaway as to the programed market is the Made in Japan marking, which denotes that the set was intended for export to the United States.  The factory that produced this service was going into headlong competition with Pickard, producing similar pieces at a lower price.  The goal was to be able to undersell Pickard with china that cost less, but was virtually indistinguishable from that made in America.  It was a marketing ploy, and it worked, although sophisticated buyers often were willing to pay the extra price for genuine Pickard.

This service is attractive, and makes an interesting commentary on that period before Pearl Harbor, when Japan was a trading partner with the United States.  It is worth $250.  Possibly the set originally included more pieces, which might be available through an exchange such as Replacements, Ltd. in Greensboro, N.C.

Whoever packed this set in the barn, knew that it was of good quality, and merited saving.
Happy Antiquing!

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