Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s place. In fact, I was partly raised by them – without fail, I’d spend every Friday and Saturday night with them. I think it was a ploy by my parents to get rid of me! My grand-aunt (grandmother’s sister) lived with my grandparents and she’d pick me up from primary school and we’d shoot off to their house. Saturday morning was my special time with my grandmother – we had a leisurely breakfast together on the sunny front patio. The breakfast usually consisted of All-Bran with fruit and then toast and marmalade (the toast was kept on those toast racks people used to have). To this day, I still love marmalade.

I was allowed tea but not coffee. And tea was a big thing with my grandmother. She had a huge teapot (covered with one of those dreaded tea cosies people used to have, with a pom-pom on the top of it) and the tea was allowed to draw for 5 mins before being poured into elegant china cups. Those cups are a vivid childhood memory. There were six of them in vibrant colours like canary yellow, duck-egg blue, apple green and soft apricot – all trimmed with gold. I inherited the cups and here’s the one I used as a kid, all those years ago sitting on the sun-drenched patio with my grandmother.

The bright yellow tea cup I had as a kid - yep, it is the original.

Fortunately, all the cups made it unbroken to New Zealand. Since they are like a national treasure for me, I would have been heartbroken if they had chipped or smashed. Bad enough the removalists managed to destroy my grandmother’s 1920s dining table – but I’m leaving this juicy news for another post.

We’ve been house-sitting for almost seven weeks now and my friend has a set of cups eerily like my grandmother’s set. I started to see similar cups and crockery in Christchurch antique shops, so I asked some questions and have discovered a new passion – Crown Lynn.

Crown Lynn was a New Zealand ceramics manufacturer that produced tableware from the 1850s until 1989 when, sadly, Crown Lynn closed. I’ve met a whole bunch of avid collectors of Crown Lynn stuff, with one lady telling me the golden years were the 1960s. The set of cups my friend has are known as Capri and were apparently very popular in the 1950s and 1960s (as far as I can tell, Colour Glaze and South Pacific were a line of tableware also from Crown Lynn that you could mix and match with Capri, but not sure of this).

Anyway…..I decided to hunt these cups down and found them last weekend in a collectibles shop in Christchurch. I spirited off with two cup and saucer sets, plus six colourful cups (I couldn’t find the matching saucers). Here they are:

I think the front green is Capri due to its slightly different shape. Along with assorted Colour Glaze cups in blue, mustard, dark blue and a pink cup and saucer that is out of shot.

They aren’t as elegant as my grandmother’s set but I love them for their vibrant colours and the fact they are “pre-loved” and made in New Zealand. I am now hunting down a matching milk jug, the type my mum used to store milk in. No nasty plastic milk container in the fridge when I was growing up. But I’m told the milk jugs are rare.

I’m planning to buy a book on Crown Lynn so I can identify the Colour Glaze from the South Pacific and Capri; and also learn about what the heck everyone is collecting.

Oh PS: my parents did eventually pick me up from my grandparent’s 🙂 they would come down on Sunday around midday, as would my uncles, aunts and cousins, and it was the huge Sunday family roast time. Then I’d go home with my parents in the late afternoon to be ready for the 6.30pm Sunday favourite: The Wonderful World of Disney. Those were the days.