Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Birds ... of Paradise!

Check out Melody's Vintage Alphabet party. Her "B" post is HERE, and features some great vintage bowls. Check out the other participants HERE. Enjoy!

The dishes on the table I've set for you today are marked "Epiag." They feature a bird of paradise pattern and a stylized floral motif. The backstamp indicates that they were made in Czechoslovakia sometime between 1920 and 1945.

Epiag was an association of porcelain factories. It was formed in 1918 by the Austrian government, and named OEPIAG (Österreichische Porzellan Industrie AG - Austrian Porcelain Industry). In 1920, to reflect the creation of Czechoslovakia (prior to 1918, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), the name was changed to EPIAG (Erste Böhemische Porzellan Industrie AG - First Bohemian Porcelain Industry).

If you're interested, you can read more about the subject at:

More trivia about Bohemian/Czech china:

The British and Americans prefer bone china, whereas Europeans prefer the hard paste porcelain that is made with quartz. England, Russia, and Japan make “bone” china. In Russia, bone china is called alabaster china. Bohemian and Czechoslovakian porcelain (china) is not bone china.


This type of china was originally marketed as a less expensive alternative to English porcelain. Some of it is beautiful, and I think the quality is generally high. I found this set at a local antique mall and another set (that I haven't shown you yet!) at an estate sale. Both were reasonably priced and included several nice serving pieces.

The view through the back of the chair ... just for fun:

I used vintage stemware by Rock Sharpe. The company's heyday was in the 1930s and '40s. They were a decorating company only and purchased blank glassware from numerous manufacturers. Various etchings and cuttings were done on the same basic stems. There are three different patterns on this table today, but all are stem/blank number 3005. I did a post about Rock Sharpe a few months ago. If you want to know more, click HERE.

I didn't use the bread/dessert plates at each place setting, but decided to stack them on the corner of the table so you could see them.

It's mid-afternoon on a cold, sunny day. Now I'm wishing I'd set the table in the solarium ... look past the kitchen, beyond the pass through window, at all that wonderful light!

Many china manufacturers have produced dishes decorated with birds and flowers. The bowl below is by Lenox.

I purchased this silverplated "silent butler" at an antique mall in Memphis last week. It was on sale for half price ... a bargain at only $5.

A closer view of one of the tall water glasses. I use these for wine, and the iced tea glasses for water. I realize their positions on the table should be be reversed, but I ignored that guideline. If you know the rules, you can break them, right? If you want to know what says about setting tables properly, you can view helpful diagrams HERE.

As the sun drops lower ...

Only two tapers on the table today (I was about to suggest saying that five times really fast ... but I tried it, and it's not particularly difficult to do). Usually, when I set tables in the dining room, I use lots of tall candles in tall candleholders but, this time, two seemed to be enough. I purchased this pair of single candleholders for only $5 at an estate sale ... and they're sterling!

I thought this was a nice shot ... of the table leg. I've read that Victorians skirted tables to the floor because "Victorian prudery sometimes went so far as to deem it improper to say "leg" in mixed company; instead, the preferred euphemism “limb” was used. Such ideas even pervaded seemingly unrelated aspects of daily life: for example fashion came to dictate that furniture such as tables be covered with embroidery and tablecloths so that table legs were hidden from view."

I did a quick search online and found this response:

The Victorians did not always cover table or chair legs. In the dining room, the opulence of carved or worked decoration of the table legs was a sign of wealth, and the legs were never covered - similarly the chairs. J&M Miller refer to the custom of covering tables in the drawing room with shawls: "A custom of draping tables with fringed fabrics meant that the lower middle classes could disguise ordinary pine tables." The illustrations in the various books are photographs of actual Victorian rooms or rooms which have been lovingly restored or preserved. Nearly all are examples of rooms in upper class homes. There is little covering of furniture legs in these examples. J&M Miller also refers to the paintings likely to be hung, saying that despite the prudish attitudes of the Victorians, nudes were acceptable, as long as the subject wore a blank or vacant expression.

Which is true? I don't know. Perhaps some of you know the answer.

I was pleased that this set of dishes included bowls for soup, salad ... or cereal. Well, for soup or salad ... somehow I doubt that I'll be serving guests corn flakes in these.

A closer view of the pattern:

And of the etched patterns on the glasses:

Looking down the table ...

The china pattern seemed to call for a degree of informality. With flowers on the plates and on the stemware, I decided to create a centerpiece using greenery and candles. I used inexpensive woven fiber placemats that add more texture than color. The napkins are well-used black restaurant napkins. Whenever I see restaurant napkins at thrift store, I buy them. Once I got a huge bagful for only $2. It held dozens and dozens of napkins. Most were in perfect condition, and the few that were frayed or faded make great rags for cleaning/dusting. They launder beautifully and the darker colors are perfect for dinners (with marinara sauce, red wine, etc.) that would ruin white damask napkins.

I used silverplated punch cups to hold floating candles. The gold washed interior of the cups creates a nice glow when the candles are lit.

To give the centerpiece height, I used racemes of a Mahonia (evergreen shrub related to the barberry, common name "Oregon Grape). The leaves are similar to holly (and just as prickly!).

I had planned to use just the magnolia (grandiflora) leaves, but noticed the "fruit" of American sweetgum trees littering the sidewalk as I returned to the house. I scattered the gumballs here and there to add texture and earthy color. Small, round glass ornaments could be used during the holidays to give a centerpiece such as this one a really festive look. I used a silverplated casserole dish holder and a small silverplated ice bucket to add a bit of shine and to contain parts of the arrangement. The punch cups fit nicely in the four corners.

Another view of the dishes and stemware ...

I had quite a few magnolia leaves left over, so I made a simple arrangement of them in this crystal compote. The candleholders flanking it are vintage. The pattern is "Canterbury," and they were made by the Duncan & Miller glass company. You can read about Duncan & Miller HERE.

I purposely included leaves with imperfections. I think it adds interest and emphasizes their "naturalness."

Time to light the candles!

I always enjoy using this flatware. It was my mother's pattern, "Remembrance" by 1847 Rogers Bros. It was introduced in 1948 to celebrate the company's 100th anniversary ... a year late, because WWII had halted production while silver and other metals were needed for the war effort.

Everything takes on a warm, creamy glow by candlelight (including guests!).

No silver candleabra on the bombay chest this evening ....

An overview of the room lit by candles and the incandescent bulbs of the chandelier ...

The next time Susan of Between Naps on the Porch does a bloopers post, perhaps I'll tell her how I almost set the centerpiece on fire ... it's easy to forget how much heat is produced by a single candle flame. For the record, mahonia smoke is not a pleasant aroma!

See the charred areas above the flames? I shifted them to the side, and they stopped smoldering. But this centerpiece concept definitely needs re-thinking!

In case you were wondering where the candleholders went ... I stashed them on the staircase. I lit them for fun and took a photo for you ...

Time to blow out the candles ... and say goodnight! Sweet dreams ...

This table setting was created for Tablescape Thursday with our delightful hostess, Susan of Between Naps on the Porch! I hope you'll stop by and see Susan's festive table, leave a comment for her, and spend some time visiting all her talented tablescaping participants.


  1. Hi Bill I have three adjectives to describe this room and tablesetting, gorgeous,gorgeous, gorgeous. Thank you for your visit today,Kathysue

  2. Bill, another beautiful and informative post. those dishes are gorgeous, and I enjoyed learning about the different types of china. (I wonder why a blank expression would make a nude okay? Too funny.) The crystal pattern is gorgeous too. Great idea to use restaurant napkins. They do launder so much better than other napkins. How clever to use that silverplate casserole holder for the centerpiece. I'm going to be borrowing that idea, since I never use mine for serving. When I first saw your centerpiece, I thought, oh, I hope those leaves don't catch on fire! Glad it didn't turn into a real disaster, because I'd hate to see your gorgeous table burned. I miss having a Magnolia tree. The leaves are just wonderful. laurie

  3. Dearest Bill, I love this! I think you have to be one of the best photographers at capturing beautiful light on the table, which is usually a very tricky thing to do.

    Your glasses are gorgeous and I especially love the last shot of the candles on the stairs, another cover shot for a beautiful book.

    Have a fantastic Tablescape Thursday and thanks for the lovely emails this morning. (It's already Thursday here in Australia)

    xxxxxxxxx Coty

  4. I have been a follower for a couple of months and have been up and down your blog, inside and out! This is my favorite. Breathtaking! Lovely, Beautiful! Thank you for the information and sharing your creative table scapes.

  5. Bill, another beautiful table at your home and once again, I've learned several new things from your post. You are a wealth of information, as well as one very creative guy. Glad you didn't cause a table fire! I like the idea of ending with the candles up the stairway. Beautiful ending to a fabulous post. Thanks for sharing and thanks for the visit to HFTS. ~ Sarah

  6. Hi Bill,
    I didn't know that in Victorian England you couldn't say table "leg" or that the nudes had to have vacant looks on there faces. In fact, I never would have guessed either giving the enormous amount of cleavage the gowns at that time displayed ;-)
    Wonderful post as always!

  7. Bill, this is another wonderful and stunning tablescape. I LOVE this china too. YOu have so many wonderful patterns. Your crystal is simply gorgeous. You always do the most amazing tables and I am so fascinated to read about all the wonderful manufacturers. Love it all. Hugs, Marty

  8. Bill -- a wonderful table as always and you are always so clever in making everyday objects (a tray, some punch cups) into centerpieces! Your tables are always so elegant and I do love that china. You tempt me, dearest Bill, but my cupboards are full to the point of groaning and I've nowhere to go with more! But I look at one of your sets . . . . and think -- perhaps!

  9. Just love this table. Wonderful dishes and the placemats add just the right amount of texture. So glad the 'fire' was mostly smoke! The candles on the stairway is one of my favorite photos! Just beautiful! You do capture candlelight and all it's beauty so well.

    Love it all!


  10. Beautiful table and photography, Bill. I always enjoy reading the history you provide.

  11. That is a fabulous table Bill and the elegance of it makes it fit for a state dinner. I love the china and I really love the glassware, the etching is so cool, they just don't make them that cool anymore. Thanks for your comments too, the story about your parents was just lovely. Cindy

  12. Beautiful! You did good again. :) Just curious - How long does it take to set up and photograph a table setting like that. Also, where do you store all your beautiful china/glassware/Flatware when not in use?

  13. Once again you have shared a most beautiful table with us and so much informative facts! Thank you!! Lorrie

  14. Oh Bill, as always, just an awesome table. The china is beautiful, but you know I have a soft spot for Rock Sharpe. Thanks again for your help in identifying mine.

    - The Tablescaper

  15. Bill, This post has it all. Great information, supurb pictures and the most beautiful tablescape. It was like reading the perfect article in my most favorite decorating magazine.
    I always look so forward to your tablescapes. You set a magnificent and formal table. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!!!! A total joy!
    BTW: thank for stopping my way for a vistit. You are so kind!

  16. Bill, your table is gorgeous. I absolutely love your centerpiece. So unique and different. The candlelabras going up the stairs is out of this world. You never disappoint.. hugs ~lynne~

  17. Bill,
    As ususal your table is perfect. Loved the centerpiece, but you always have the most beautiful centerpiece, no matter what you use.
    My fav had to be the candlelabras going up the stairs, just wonderful. Thanks for sharing all the information on your china and the little history lesson on "Legs" was also great.
    Thanks for taking the time to visit and your wonderful comments.

  18. I love your tablescapes. You share so much information and everything is always gorgeous. I love Magnolia leaves...I'm so jealous!

    I think I have the same stemware. I need to take a closer look at mine.


  19. Just amazing as always. I LOVE that china pattern and the stemware is to die for. I am so envious that you find all these great "finds". I'm looking in all the wrong places???

    Carolyn/A Southerners Notebook

  20. You have such a great eye for beauty Bill. I love how you put this table together. I could sit there for quite awhile taking in the details. I spotted your kitchen through the door there and I'm liking it, too. :0)
    Love the photo of the candleabras on the stairs...

  21. Beautiful! Of course it's beautiful - Bill did it!!

    As for Emily Post I don't think anybody cares about her rules anymore! We Thursday Tablescapers make our own rules!

    I chuckled about the leg stories! I like the way you defiantly "showed a little leg!" Hee-hee!


  22. Beautiful and inspiring.

  23. This makes me think that spring is coming. It is bright and light and full of personality. The glasses are very cool.
    I noticed we have the same coffee maker. Do you use the grinder in it? I bought a burr grinder to use because the one in the coffee maker gets steamy wet and you have to disassemble the entire thing and dry all the pieces bone dry to make a second pot. The last time I was going to use it the grinder was frozen solidly to the shaft and I can't get it out.
    Aren't you surprised that I didn't make a joke about the blank stare in the Victorian paintings?

  24. Where to start: I love the way you layered the beautiful china on the informal placemats. Love the stemware. But your centerpiece is gorgeous. I might copy you on that one since I have lots of magnolia leaves to work with. --Delores

  25. You always set the most elegant table....the china is beautiful.....

  26. STUNNING! The Candelabra up the stairs is brilliant. Jackie

  27. I swear you must have been a teacher in another life, Bill. You impart so much knowledgeable information in each of your posts. I never leave without learning something new!
    I truly appreciate the time you spend in researching your *stuff*. :D

    The etching on your Rock Sharpe vintage stemware reminds me of my sister's Princess House crystal. I will have to compare them to see the differences.

    I am pea-green with envy over all the wonderful bargains you find. You have a black belt in shopping, my friend as well as a creative eye when it comes to centerpieces, too. Well done!!

  28. Gorgeous and I love the history lessons! Funny about the mahonia smoke! :D Jewel

  29. I always look forward to seeing your tablescapes! Your house is beautiful and you put together such stunning tables! And I really admire your creativity. I love how you include a lot of information as well; I'm a Victorian Era trivia junkie myself. I've read similar things about how some Victorians covered table legs because it was considered scandalous to show "leg", even on furnishings, but in most pictures of the time they are not covered. I think it might have been something "in vogue" at a certain time period, dependent on what style of decor was all the rage, and with a certain class or type of person as well.
    I love that silent butler! I saw one almost identical to that one at a flea market for about $6 and when I went back to buy it 10 minutes later, someone else had snapped it up! I was so mad at myself for not grabbing it right away!
    Oh well! I'll keep looking!

  30. I love this tablesetting...especially the china and the bird of paradise! Stunning and your centerpiece is just perfect! Miss Bloomers

  31. Another beautiful tablescape from you and the stemware is gorgeous! Thanks for inspiring me.

  32. Bill, this is beautiful, as always! I'm loving your choice of stemware. Thanks for sharing and happy TT to you!

  33. Just lovely, and I appreciate the history lesson! How very interesting!

    From Virginia

  34. Amazing! You are a font of information!

    This is beautiful, and I think you did well to set up in the dining room, it was very elegant looking, especially in the candlelight. Great photography, I liked the shot through the chair.
    The patterns are lovely (dishes, crystal, and flatware), and such a nice touch with the silver punch cups used with the candles. I also loved the magnolia leaves, and the candelabras on the stairs really did look beautiful too!

    I think of all your treasures I covet most your collection of silent butlers! And if I weren't trying to find new homes for all the things I treasure, I would be starting a collection of my own!

    Happy Tablescape Thursday!
    All the best,

  35. Bill-Love the idea of the arrangement in the silver casserole and I love the magnolia leaves in the compote. I think most people consider Emily Post the etiquette authority, but I alwys depended on Amy Vanderbuilt :)

  36. I didn't think it could get more fabulous, but you do it every week. What beautiful china, and I always love your stemware. The centerpiece is also really are so talented!

  37. Oh, Bill, this makes my heart speed up. Bird dishes just tweet to me. Yours are exquisite. I have similar crystal ... somewhere. When I first started writing, I had antique booths, and I had to give it up. It was too hard to find smalls, and besides, I was my only customer. :-)
    You've created a table that exudes Old South glamor, with a warm, welcoming glow. I am looking forward to next week's tablescape!

  38. Your tables are always exquisite and so much information and history in every post!

  39. OMG! Bill, where do you find and keep all these gorgeous dishes and crystals? Stunning and elegant tablescape....Christine

  40. Hi Bill,
    Once again, you have exceeded my expectations. This table is my favorite of all you have designs. Why? Because of the simple elegance of the informality. The woven mats and dark napbkins are the perfect foil for this china. And the magnolia/sweet gum centerpiece is truly beautiful!
    (I'll be heading out to gather sweet gum pods in the morning! )
    Thanks for sharing this beautiful table.
    Jane (artfully graced)

  41. Beautiful as always! And thanks for including that link to how to set tables; all I'd ever known was the basic place setting, and now I know all three!

  42. Hello Bill,
    Thanks a lot for the comment on my photo blog. I return the compliment.
    Did you ever think of publishing a book with all your beautiful tablescapes ? a kind of book "Art de vivre in Tenessee". Sincerely your photos deserve it.

  43. Bill,
    Yet another beautiful table. Love the china and stemware. What I love the most is the placemats, great texture and the centerpiece is so pretty. The black napkins just give it the right touch.
    Now Bill, I have a question...where do you store all of these beautiful things? Do you have a huge closet? Or are they scattered all around? You don't sound like a scattered around person.
    I have learned so much from your posts, not to mention that the eye candy is just stunning.

  44. Bill,
    Simply the best. I am going on a hunt for stemware! You really do the most amazing tablescapes. I have learned so much from studying yours.

    Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and leaving that wonderful comment.

    And where do you keep all those dishes?


  45. Hello Bill~ ~Another stunning TT. I love the candles on the steps! Who but you would have thought of that. I would have to stow the kitty in the bedroom. The triple crystal candleholders on the bombay chest are still my favorites.

  46. Everything is so beautiful. I'm especially drawn to the glassware - it reminds me of some pieces I've inherited from my great-grandmother. What a gorgeous tablescape and great photos of it all!

  47. Hi Bill....stunning! Love the picture of the glowing cups!
    As far as Live Writer...I am still testing. But you already have minima your pictures are nice and big already.
    One big advantage though is the watermark...Good luck with it if you try....

  48. My Dear Bill~ ~

    I just had to come back after your visit and comment. You made my day! I don't know why I didn't think to look the pattern up. All I knew was that I loved the simplicity of it. I knew it was silver black as it was, and it was only $25 for 6 - 3 piece place settings minus 2 teaspoons!
    Do you think I got a good deal?
    Thanks for the research. I owe you a dinner. Next time you are in Lancaster County you are invited for dinner and we will use the lovely new silver for dinner for 4 or 6. More than that and I'll run out of pieces. I love having dinner parties. You do know that there are lots of antique markets in this area.

  49. Bill -- your tablescapes are always just eye poppingly stunning! (Is poppingly a word?) Anyway I love everything -- but those dishes are gorgeous! Thanks for your sweet comments on my tablescape this week -- coming from you -- it means a lot. I always love to see what you bring to the table.

  50. Beautiful, Bill! LOL about your smoldering centerpiece. I have done that before and the house is "ruined" for a while! Leyland Cypress isn't pleasant either! ;-)
    I adore your china...the colors are so beautiful...and the crystal is sooo beautiful! How do you remember all this great information about all the patterns...very impressive!

  51. Your talents know no bounds! YOu continue to outdo yourself week afetr week! I love the dishes but the glassware is BEAUTIFUL! It reminds me so much of my Grandmothers. I only have about 4 pieces and wish so much I had it all. I don't even know what happened to it all:( Thank you so much for being so informative on your posts too, I learn something new each time! Pinky

  52. Bill, I bow to the master of tablescapes this week I think, great post. Was enjoyable seeing and reading, thanks!
    Linda Q

  53. Bill, A beautiful table and some interesting tibits of history. Years ago I read that the more your drapes pool on the floor, the more money you had. I amsure there are lots of other unique customs.


  54. Hi Bill! first of all, thank you for always being so sweet! secondly, I am SOOOOOOOOOO jealous of your dining room, it is an absolute DREAM & every single element that you use is incredible! your attention to detail is impeccable!!! :)

  55. Hi Bill, thanks for your kind visit to Bella Vista.

    Your table is beautiful but above is gracious!!


  56. Hi Bill, I just stumbled upon your blog and absolutely LOVE it. Oh how I would love to come to your house for dinner! Thank you for including information on your gorgeous china and crystal. Unfortunately we don't have many estate sales in southern California....but I can dream! ~ Marlene

  57. So beautiful. I love looking at your tablescapes, I enjoy them so much.

  58. Gorgeous...I'd give an arm and a limb :), ( just so you know I read it!) to dine at that table. I'll cook, you set!
    Have a great weekend!

  59. gorgeous, just beautiful. I can't believe the serving pieces that you got with it all. Love all the floral and foliage.

  60. Just Fab Darling just Fab...this is your best one to date Bill...Oh I was drooling from start to finish with all this beauty my friend...
    And I must be Victorian as I also has nude painting in my DR and not a one of them are smiling ha ha!! also I never cover up my table legs because you could't see the griffiths on them if I did to come polish my silver...I spend the day yesterday doing that and I swear my hands looked like prunes oh wait a minute they always look like that now at my age lol!! Great post Bill and am glad to see you back again...Hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

  61. I love that I ALWAYS learn something from your posts. Gorgeous table...I think I'm going to have to track down some of that beatiful crystal...just beautiful!


  62. What an elegant table setting...and I love your house!

  63. This tablescape takes you away to paradise so it seems! For any bird lover or not it is so pretty! The greenery is such a nice added touch. I am looking forward to spending more time blogging and getting to know all of you thru participation with tablescape thursday.

  64. Wow, Bill! What a wonderful tablescape! I love the centerpiece! Absolutely everything is perfect! And I love the fact that you give us the background information on all of the pieces. The old teacher in me loves to learn! lol Thanks so much for your kind remarks about my frenchy music. I always wonder if it bothers people, but I can't part with it!I hope you are having a wonderful Sunday...Debbie

  65. Oh stunning and beautiful!!! I'm RSVPing for a chance to sit at one of your beautiful table settings. I really love the fact that you relay information regarding the difference between china. I learn so much from your posts! TFS

  66. Love your blog. My first visit and I am already looking forward to the next one. Loved the way you use table linens. I've never seen any that I didn't love. Your approach to detail and description moves to first place. I will appreciate my beautiful magnolia more than ever.

  67. Bill, LOVE your centerpiece! What a clever idea to use the silver casserole holder and silver ice bucket and punch cups! It looks fantastic at night all lit up too! Great tablescape!!!

  68. Beautiful!!!! During the Victorian era botanicals were used naturally in all there glory..flaws and all. Your use of leaves with brown spots in the arrangement is period perfect.
    By the by I'm gonna send you an e-mail..hope ya get it.

  69. I love the table setting, but am most fascinated by the centerpiece. The multiple levels of greenery are wonderful and your idea for putting candles in the teacups is magic!

  70. Hello Bill, I have to say you did the letter "B" proud. Your table is beautiful and I loved the walk thur history too. You sure have found some wonderful finds and show them well, Char

  71. Hi Bill! So happy you came! Your "B" is an A+!
    Those plates are exquisite. The Crystal stunning.
    Your accents finish the table beautifully.
    I can't wait to see what you come up with next month for the letter 'C' It'll be the third week of the March too.

  72. What fun to see the Canterbury candle holders. My Mom's wedding crystal was that pattern and I have many pieces of the stemware, also the creamer and sugar bowl. Thanks for having such a lovely blog! I wandered over here from Cuisine Kathleen and have enjoyed a lovely morning!