Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Japanese flag Q: I have tea set from my great-grandmother, who was a seamstress. One of her clients traveled back from abroad with barrels of china packed in sawdust. One barrel was stored in my grandfather's basement and the china was bartered for sewing by my great-grandmother. I estimate that the set was given to her around the turn of the century. Any information you have about this set would be appreciated.

A: The crossed flags on the mark on your great-grandmother's tea set are the Japanese flag and the Chinese customs flag, which was used by the Inspectorate General of Customs from c.1872-1889. The crescent and star symbols were used by the Ottoman Empire by 1844 and later by Turkey. Your mark was used by A.A. Van Tine & Co., a company in New York City that imported china from China, Japan, Turkey, and southern Russia. Ashley Abraham Van Tine (sometimes spelled Vantine), established an import business in New York in 1866. He went into partnership with James F. Sutton in 1870. Some of the company's dinnerware was made in Japan. Van Tine was out of business by 1951. The shape and decoration of the dishes suggest a date of 1900-1930.

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