Saturday, August 1, 2009

Funny Thrift Store Discovery: Wedgwood Lobster Bowl

Even when the pickings are slim at the local thrift shop, I can usually get a few good chuckles out of the array of silly things that turn up. Take this lobster bowl, for instance: At first glance I thought "Ha! Now theres something funny to see! A bowl in the form of a shell being supported by a lobster! A thing like that!" and so on...

Well, Anne was really quite taken with it from the get go, but I maintained that, curious though it was, it was destined to live on that thrift store shelf for a considerable time eliciting all manner of laughs and criticisms before anyone came along and deemed it worthy of purchase. Anne took a closer look under the base for hallmarks and such, and she found a few, and one that seemed to read "wedgwood". Well, that was just fine, says I, immediately assuming the role of Antiques Roadshow-style appraiser, asserting that such things as that were easy to fake, and that this piece probably came from the home goods department at TJ Maxx down the road.

That lobster bowl did work its way into my brain, though, and we talked about it and wondered about it all the way home, and when we got there, Anne made straight for the computer and set right to researching the thing. The Wedgwood Museum describes the bowl thusly:

"Towards the end of the 19th century, when the Victorian taste for all things extravagant and quirky, was at its height, Wedgwood introduced numerous items of novelty tableware. Salad bowls and servers in particular were eminently suitable vessels to be disguised with various flora and fauna. This example has the bowl itself balancing on lobster claws. It was patented in 1888 and manufactured in the same year. "

The identical bowl in the Wedgwood museum is described as a salad bowl and is pictured with serving utensils (below)

A catalog from a 2009 Christie's auction lists two identical bowls, without the serving utensils, as "Wedgwood Creamware Shell-Form Centerpiece Bowls". Wedgwood also manufactured the salad bowl below, from the collection of the Museum of Liverpool

Well, at any rate, by the time we found the information I've posted thus far, we were fairly well obsessed with that old lobster bowl, and when we saw that Christie's had auctioned off their identical pair for $3250.00 why we were just on fire for it! Problem was, the thrift shop had closed for the day. After all that research I changed my tune pretty quick and figured someone more savvy than us had probably snatched that thing up as soon as we set it down. We made a plan to be waiting for the doors to open the next morning in the event that it was still there, and had some information on what marks should be found on the bottom of the bowl written on a scrap of paper. I was just as happy as could be when I saw it was still perched up on its shelf! We examined the base and determined that all of the various markings were in order, and that this was the real deal before hauling it up to the register. The gal at the counter kind of wrinkled up her nose and gave us a funny look when she saw it, but we didn't mind a bit; we had our treasure! Following are a few more images of our lobster bowl:

The image above shows the various hallmarks and other information stamped and painted underneath the base. I've had a fine time arranging various groupings of shells, corals and sealife in our new Wedgwood bowl!

Thanks for joining me, and do have a lovely weekend!


jek-a-go-go said...

being the crazy lobster-girl that i am i would have immediately pegged it for a wedgewood. utterly bizarre looking yes, but there is a lobster on it and lobsters are nothing if not bizarre.

dahlhaus said...

SCORE! It is hilarious- quite kitchy actually:) Heather

swedg said...
My wife found this at a flea market several years ago and purchased it immediately for what turned out to be more than its worth. (Not that unusual). Of course we didn't get salad utensils. Yours has a much more enterprising shell. Looks as if the base could be a cover for this bowl.

Julie said...

Awesome find!! I would be so psyched, in so many, many ways.

Sarah said...

I reblogged this on my tumblr blog about weird things people have found at thrift stores.