Sunday, February 2, 2014
Just in case anybody doesn't know cornishware is the blue and white stripy crockery that legend has it was inspired by the blue sea and white sandy beaches of Cornwall (or something similar), it was actually made in Derbyshire, or at least it was until 2007 and it's a bit of a design icon. It's been around since the 1920's and for most of it's production life was at the cheap and cheerful end of the market. I like it because it has an undeniable retro appeal as well as the timeless quality of a proper classic, I also like it because it's practical - I don't have room in my kitchen for anything I don't use (with the exception of some egg cups, not a fan of the boiled egg) which along with price is why I'm not a collector, but oh how I wish I could afford to be.
I got my first bits in Stoke-On-Trent, I guess when Mason Cash took over the company and there were bits floating round cheap as discontinued lines and then used to pick up odds and ends until Mason Cash pulled the plug on it in 2007. It's a shame they couldn't hang on for just a little bit longer until the baking boom really hit. As it is the company name was bought up and cornishware is still made but in China and it's not quite the same. Pre 2007 it wasn't exactly cheap but you could buy it from habitat and all sorts of kitchen shops, there was a good range of core lines and a collectors club that released special editions (my particular regret is not getting a cinnamon shaker) now it's definitely not cheap at all, hardly anyone stocks it because supply is so erratic, and so is the quality which is indefensible when something is so definitely not cheap. In fact having read around a bit about it today it seems as if the current stuff is seen in the light of copies rather than proper authentic cornishware which is a huge shame.
The other problem with it is that the limited range also has limited use - the storage jars which only come in two sizes are both a bit on the small side - the large one won't hold a kilo of porridge oats. Nor do they say what should be in them any more and what use is a row of anonymous jars when you're looking for raisins and not sultanas? It seems a shame to me, with average prices for old storage jars (the sort with names) being between £50 and £80 these days and running into the hundreds for rarer pieces it looks like there's a market out there and I'd love an affordable (even if it was only just affordable) set of jars for baking stuff - I can't be the only one.
Very happily for me though I found a piece yesterday that was both practical and affordable. I got a lovely jar for baking powder for a very reasonable £25 (I think it was miss-priced but when I questioned the dealer about it he knocked a fiver off so I stopped asking and paid up). It is the most lovely shape, tapering slightly towards the base and would be desirable even if it wasn't useful. Now I need to track down an affordable sugar shaker...