A lifetime collection of Italian majolica gets a new home!

by Posted On

I was minding my own business, (yes working!)  looking for furniture for clients in my favorite antique store in our area;  and this bird;  this happy little bird caught my eye!

What a delightful, fey,whimsical, little bird!  I was captivated!

And look!!!

Shelves all over the store filled with them!

plates,bowls. platters of all sizes, cups, saucers,  espresso tiny cups and saucers!  Oh my heart!!!

There had to be story about all this;  I could see subtle differences in the  glaze color, in the application of the trims;  and even slight differences in the bird!

I asked the owners, (twins who know everyone and everything about Santa Barbara County for the last 100 years!)

“Oh yes, Mrs. Flood collected this pattern for 50 years or more!”

Oh happy day! Mr and Mrs. James Flood bought the 37,000 acre “Rancho Sisquoc” in Santa Ynez, in 1952. Mrs. Flood died recently at 94 years old.

 This is her collection of  this Italian majolica.

Mrs. Flood went to Italy on her honeymoon in 1934.

That  is  when, in the small town of Monte Lupo,she was also

captivated by this happy little bird!

She returned at least once a year to add to this collection;

( and we learned later at the San Francisco Antiques Show);  she enlisted her siblings, children

and nephews and nieces to add to it when they travelled to Italy !

They were told not to come home without  at least one piece!

At the Antiques show , we ran into “Jimmy Flood” her son

who was in my husband’s class in grade school!

We also ran into her niece ;  Mrs. Gamble,

she told us the whole story!

“You bought all my Aunt Lizzie’s china!”

They were delighted that a “friend of the family” had bought

the entire collection!

I purchased all 120 pieces of her lifelong collection;  and here they are on my shelves!

What luck!  And honestly, they make me happy just to look at them!  And I eat at least one thing from them every day!

This is a charming little bowl


these little tiny cups I think are for espresso.

Here it is piled up and even more charming in its irregularity!

My guess is that this one is earlier than the others.  This bird is a little different;  and the circle around the middle is new;

I think probably a different artist , but in the same pottery!  This has been a pottery town since the 15th century!

A few chips add to the charm to me!

Same thing with this set;  a brighter yellow and a different eye!
I have always loved collecting!  So what fun to be able to ‘inherit’ a “much loved” collection from a “much loved” woman over her lifetime!
I heard she was , above all things FUN!!!
(I have heard nothing but wonderful stories about this lady!  Her favorite holidays were Halloween and April Fools!  Mine too!
And she was a real animal lover who was always rescuing stray dogs!!
(I do that as well!! dogs and other animals!)
In fact, many of my friends think it “looks like me”!  And can’t believe I haven’t had it!
I feel very lucky, indeed!
I hope you find things you will love and enjoy when they are “passed on”!
And Have Plenty of FUN in 2017!!!!!

7 thoughts on “A lifetime collection of Italian majolica gets a new home!


    AND remember I have ONE CUP!How lucky you were to find this collection!Then for your husband to know the FAMILY is just icing on the CAKE!

    1. Penelope Bianchi

      Are you kidding? I will never forget your reply to the first time I posted this!! 5 years ago! And you mentioned your Aunt lived in Montecito! Well…..what a wonderful friendship that began!!! Your Aunt was one of my favorite people in my favorite house EVER! About a quarter of a mile from me….and I saw her often..and adored her! I owe our wonderful and treasured friendship to this china! (pottery!) It is a “small beach that we hang out on”!! And one of the things that delineates that beach is “taste”! You bought that cup…..because of your “taste”! think about it!! I ran into the Godfather’s grandson in New Orleans because of “taste”!
      On and on……it is truly not a big world…..it is a small beach. Honestly.

  2. Marsha

    What an incredible fine, Penelope! This is just fabulous. And, to actually know from where it came, and some of the relatives is amazing. You are amazingly fortunate to find an entire collection of this size, cracks and all. It’s absolutely lovely and SO you with that little bird. Think of all the work that went into creating these pieces, knowing each piece was touch by a true artisan. My grandmother, Mom-Mom, married an Italian (& “became Italian herself”) collected Capodimonte of the spaghetti weave type, so from early childhood I was aware of how precious this was to her. It is all still in the family. Beautiful post, my friend.

    1. Penelope Bianchi

      Hi Marsha!
      Believe me I know what a treasure it is! The whole story unfolded after I bought it! The dealers told me the name of Mrs. Flood….I didn’t know until I told Adam that he was a schoolmate of Mrs. Floods’s son!
      I have to say that it makes me happy every morning to see it!
      It is important to keep things like this in the family , if at all possible!
      I am so glad you liked it!

  3. Joni Webb

    I love this story!!! You are so lucky to have been able to buy her entire collection – AND keep it all together!!! BTW – you looked too cute on Halloween. Hope you had a great time!!

    1. Penelope Bianchi

      And I love you and ALL Your stories! You have no idea how you are educating everyone! And you are adorable! If you can ever come to Santa Barbara……Joni….you are invited to stay in my tiny guest house!!!

    2. Penelope Bianchi

      PS Halloween is my favorite holiday! I love costumes and dressing up!!!
      Thank you so much!!!

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