JOHN MCPHEE EVALUATES READERS’ PRECIOUS OBJECTS.
I BOUGHT THESE pretty jewellery boxes in Oxford, England, in 2000 for about £50 each and I am hoping you can tell me more about them. J. Sherman, ASPLEY, QUEENSLAND Pretty boxes like these were made, often in sets, for a dressing table. One of yours is a gilt-metal powder box with imitation stone and pearl decorations on the lid. The other is a jewel box in the shape of a baroque cabinet, into which rings might be placed at night. We are most familiar with cut-glass and crystal sets, but more elaborate and expensive examples were made in electroplated metal, silver, and even gold. Your boxes were made in France where craftsmen continued the tradition of making small luxury items throughout the 19th century. MY MOTHER WAS given this china set as a wedding gift. The information on the bottom says it’s ‘Paragon’, with two Royal seals that read: ‘By appointment to H.M. The Queen and H.M. Queen Mary Fine China England Reg’d English Rose’. She has petite coffffee cups and saucers, larger coffffee cups and saucers, side plates (one is missing), a coffffee pot, and small and large sugar bowls and creamers. Kathryn Hede, MERIMBULA, NSW Your coffffee set was made at the Paragon company, which produced fifine china between 1919 and 1960 at Stoke-on-trent, Staffffordshire. The Royal warrants were granted for Queen Mary in 1933 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, which means that your mother’s set was produced between 1953 and 1960, and was probably new in the year in which she was married. Paragon produced hundreds of designs and there are many variations of the English rose idea, but yours is an elegant one — handpainted, transfer printed and with gilding. The value of the sets depend on them being complete, just one piece missing reduces a collector’s interest. John Mcphee is an art historian who was curator of Australian Decorative Arts at the National Gallery of Australia.