Had a few minutes to spare before church and since I was passing my neighborhood Goodwill I decided to pop in and check out one or two of my favorite sections. No time to look at jewelry, purses, books or clothes, but I did peruse the ceramics/china aisle.
So glad I did.
Typically I don’t bother looking at teacups (just not my thing) but when I saw this set of five with four saucers I was instantly charmed. I’ve never seen a pattern like this before. Such a nice departure from the ubiquitous floral patterns.
I flipped one over and saw “Melba Bone China, Guaranteed Made in England, RD 739443, Dolly Varden.” Tried to do some quick in-store research, but wasn’t getting anything helpful and time was running out, but had a feeling these were really good and into the basket they went.
Then I spotted a matching creamer and a sugar or slop bowl on different shelves and thought, “Well, why not?” Put them in my basket and dashed up to check-out counter. As I was waiting in line a woman behind me looked in my basket and said, “Wow, those are nice.” And I replied, “They are, aren’t they.”
Later at home I did more research. Turns out Dolly Varden china (based on a character in the Charles Dickens’ novel “Barnaby Rudge”) was made by Mayer & Sherratt (1907-1941) in Stoke on Trent, England. This hand-painted pattern was made in the late 1920s/early 1930s in several color combinations, with green and yellow the most common.
Currently there are very few of these for sale. One of my go-to price guides for china and crystal, replacements.com, has none for sale and there’s only one on Etsy…a teacup and saucer in the green and yellow pattern for $75.
Now I would be happy to list a teacup and saucer for $75 but is that a realistic price? I found another green and yellow teacup, saucer and a plate for sale on eBay for $26 from a UK seller. That’s quite a price difference! Checked on Worthpoint.com and found that people have paid in the $20-$45 range for a Dolly teacup and saucer (though some included a small plate as well). Seventy-five seems a bit…optimistic!
Now my next thought is: are the blue Dollys like mine more valuable because of their scarcity or less valuable because they aren’t as desirable or the same value??
This is the kind of thing I wrestle with and drive myself slightly nuts at times. Maybe you do too! Finally after several hours of research I’ve decided I’m going to sell the teacups and saucers for $30 a pair (I have two good pairs) and the creamer and sugar/slop bowl for $35 each.
Alas, three of the five teacups have hairline cracks. They hold water but shouldn’t be used for drinking. I’m going to add them to a lot of slightly damaged but nice china pieces that someone can repurpose.
Even though I only was in the store for 15 minutes, it turned out to be well worth it. 🙂
How about you? Any quick thrifting visits where you struck a bit of gold?