How about a spot of Tea Leaf?

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CLINTON, Ohio – The distinctive white ironstone Tea Leaf china was named one of the top 10 collectibles by Country Home magazine.

Tea Leaf Ironstone China has been produced since the 1840s. Earliest examples are from Anthony Shaw and Edward Walley.

Anthony Shaw and Co. made ironstone in Staffordshire, England, from 1851 to 1900.

Realizing homemakers’ interest in plain white ironstone dinnerware was waning, they introduced ironstone decorated with hand painted copper lustre tea leaves around 1856.

Originally, the pattern was named “Luster Band and Sprig.” Because the design of the leaf was similar to tea leaves, it became known as “Tea Leaf “

Many ironstone companies in both England and the United States, each with its own variation, have produced the design. English potters of the distinctive white ironstone. with copper lustre include Jacob Furnival, Joseph Clementson, Elsinore & Forster, John Edwards, Alfred Meakin and Enoch Wedgwood.

By the late 1800s, American potters were challenging the monopoly of the British imports. Most production ceased by 1910, but there was a revival in the mid-20th century by the Adams Pottery of England and the American Red Cliff Pottery of the United States.

Recently there have been shoddy reproductions. They can be recognized by the inferior quality and lower weight.

Upcoming convention.Tea Leaf Club International is one of the collectors’ groups organized in 1980 dedicated to the collection of this copper lustre decorated white ironstone.

It will hold its 2001 convention Sept. 20-23 at French Lick Springs Resort , French Lick, Ind., a place frequented by the elite of politics and society in the first half of the 20th century.

Located 108 miles south of Indianapolis, it is set on 2,600 acres in the heart of the Hoosier National Forest.

Convention Chair Wally Stevens of Minnesota describes the convention as an opportunity to buy and sell Tea Leaf, to learn about Tea Leaf, and to meet members from all over the United States and Canada.

The event starts informally on the evening of Sept. 20, with a gathering on the hotel veranda.

On Sept. 21, the convention schedule includes an optional tour. The tour will include a train ride into the Hoosier National Forest, and stops at the Indiana Railway Museum, West Baden Springs (a national historic landmark), and Beechwood Inn, the former mansion of Charles Ed Ballard, an entertainment magnate of the early 19O0s.

Friday evening will be the first of the convention’s buying-and selling opportunities. Members rent table space and sell items priced from $1 to $40. At the same time, there will be a lid and bottom swap.

Learn about Tea Leaf. Also Friday night is one of the education sessions. The program is called “Rare and Unusual’ and is a chance for members to show rare finds or to have pieces identified by more experienced collectors.

Saturday morning and afternoon are dedicated to educational programs. The first program will be ‘Building a Reference Book on Ironstone” by members Bev and Ernie Derringer of Connecticut. They will chronicle their study of the British manufactures of ironstone plates from 1840 to 1890.

The end result of their study was the publication of the book White Ironstone China. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and autographing.

John Chrisman of Florida is preparing the second educational program, “Glorious Gravies.” He is collecting stories and pictures from members of gravy boats in their collections. Afterward, there will be a “Glorious Gravies Exhibit.”

Annual auction. Consignments are already being received for the most serious of the buying opportunities at the convention, the annual dinner auction. Licensed auctioneer and association member, Terrell Medd, will conduct the auction of approximately 250 lots, Each lot must have the potential for selling for over $40.

Closing event is Sunday morning table sales. Members rent 8-foot tables for sale of tea leaf and related items only.

Deadline for reservations is Aug. 15. All convention activities are open to members only. For membership information, contact Maxine Johnson, P.O. Box 377, Belton, M0 64012 or visit www.tealeafclub.com .

Price guide. At the 1999 convention auction, the largest auction in the history of group, the following prices were realized:

Shaw Chinese shaving mug, $80; Mellor Taylor lion’s head chamber pot, $175; Clementson heavy square brush vase, $350;

Meakin fishhook pitcher, $225; Wedgwood square ridged 3-piece soap dish, $130,Clementson heavy square Teaberry creamer, $450; Meakin Boston egg cup, $375; Wilkinson Sunburst cake plate with hairline, $110; Red Cliff sauce tureen with stand and ladle, $175;

J. Furnival Quartered Rose Teaberry relish dish, $675; Wilkinson Maidenhair Fern sauce tureen with ladle, minor damage, $400; Shaw Lily of the Valley soap dish, $525; Shaw Hanging Leaves teapot, $600,

Clementson Scalloped Treasure Teaberry child’s creamer, $525; Unmarked soup ladle, $625, Walley Niagara Pre-Tea Leaf teapot, $700, and Adams Empress egg cup, $200.

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