In the world of antiques, one hears a lot of stories about the items customers grew up with. Whether it’s a lady talking about the carousel tumblers her grandma used to serve iced tea, or a gal remembering the dresser box on her aunt’s dresser when she was a kid. (Both are true stories.)
Collecting antiques is collecting stories. The story about how you found an item, the story about where it came from, and the story about where it’s going. I say all of this to introduce a category of antiques that is dear to my heart. My mom has been collecting Elfinware since I was a little girl. The small baskets, vases, and dresser boxes encrusted with handcrafted flowers and moss have been a part of my life since I can remember.
My mom still has the Elfinware collection she started 30 years ago. I recently started living with my parents and I have been looking at the blue forget-me-nots, roses, and green moss scattered over the tiny porcelain pieces and wondering, for the first time in my life, what the story is behind Elfinware.
Information on Elfinware is surprisingly hard to come by. I discovered on Kovels, that the creation of Elfinware began in the 1920s. Breslauer-Underberg of New York City trademarked the name and they began to import the porcelain pieces to the USA in the 40s.
Collectors sometimes refer to Elfinware as Mossware because of the thick green moss that accompanies the flowers on some pieces. Some collectors refer to the moss as “spinach.” No matter what you call it, the pieces with the green moss are often the most highly prized and sought after.
I gained increased respect for these sweet pieces when I realized each piece was crafted by hand. They are real works of art. A porcelain artist handcrafted each and every little flower and tuft of moss that decorates each piece of Elfinware. Every once in a while you will come across a piece with a cracked flower or moss that was damaged before the firing. It is no wonder when you consider how difficult it must have been to create a miniature fairyland of Elfinware flowers by hand.
My mom and I spent a day photographing some of our favorite pieces from her collection. I hope you enjoy these photographs of a collection that played a huge part in my own childhood story.
What do you think of Elfinware? Do you love the fairyland of flowers? Let me know in the comments below!
Here are some more gorgeous pieces of Elfinware on Instagram: