Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Earlier this summer, with the help of google, I successfully tracked down an elusive 6" Benjamin Bunny plate, from Royal Albert's "World of Beatrix Potter" Teatime Collection (as shown above). I knew exactly what I wanted, but would I be able to find it? Happily, yes! There it was, available from a shop called Margaret (www.marg.co.uk), based in England and offering a wide selection of discontinued nursery ware.
I placed my order right away and received a most satisfying brown paper parcel the following week. Mission accomplished: a flawless and professional transaction at reasonable price; and a lovely, long - lost keepsake replaced with an identical replica! I emailed Margaret to let her know of the plate's arrival and to explain its sentimental value to me:
July 6, 2011
I'm writing to let you know that the dear little Benjamin Bunny plate arrived safely in this afternoon's mail. Thank you so much!
Just to fill you in on the background, I was given one of these exact plates by my co-workers, upon the birth of my first child, a boy, back in 1990. My boys (I had a 2nd son in 1993) never used any of their Beatrix Potter plates for dining, but we did always have them on display. Then, sadly, Benjamin Bunny got broken when we moved house in 2004. I had resigned myself to living without him until I saw the very plate on your website and realized that I could replace it, as good as new!
From now on, however, it will be a doubly sweet memory, for it represents both the baby shower present from years ago; and your recent kindness in sending me the second copy. Thank you so much for the care you took in getting it to me so quickly and safely.
I few hours later, the following heartfelt reply from Margaret appeared in my email:
I have been dealing with quality china (both new and discontinued) in our family firm for fifty two years. Business now is very difficult in these hard times, and I constantly think we should give it up and spend our time with our little grandchildren and in the garden . . . until I get such an email as yours and then all is worthwhile. I am so very pleased that I could help.
My mother started the business selling antiques in 1959. Although I worked for my father who was a lawyer, I also helped my mother by doing her books and generally being on call. The business slowly expanded and she began to sell new products, as well as antiques, starting with Wedgwood and all its sister companies, then Royal Doulton (which included Royal Albert), Moorcroft, Border Fine Arts, and many others. I continued working with both my father and my mother, made easy by the fact that they operated out of the same building which was a huge Georgian house, with Dad at the front doing the law bit and Mum at the back with a lovely shop and me in the middle doing my bit for both!!
I also managed to have four children - in six years - and then worked for Dad at home in the evenings after the little ones were asleep, and I also did all Mum's bookkeeping. When number four child arrived we had a big meeting, and my husband Roy left his job in engineering design and came into the business in 1978. Dad died in 1982 and so the family moved on with the china and glass business and the rest is history. Roy is a genius - being able to sell snow to the Eskimos - but they all come back so he must be doing a good job. After Dad died, I was a bit at a loose end and so I set up the business of tracing and selling discontinued china. I had a lot of knowledge of the business and its products so I was able to give valuable help to people.
Mum died about five years ago aged 93 and was still very much involved with the business and with decisions. Now Roy runs the retail shop selling new products and I work in the office in my home helping people with queries and supplying discontinued items. My children are all grown up and my daughter has two little girls aged 3 and 1 who are a joy to us and who I see often.
Business now is not good in the china and glass industry. Nearly all products are made abroad and the internet has killed most of our trade but Roy enjoys the shop and the company of his customers (as well as their business) and we are happy for the moment doing what we do.
Hope I haven't gone on too much. I was so pleased to receive your lovely email, it makes my work all the more worthwhile.
With very best regards,
Don't forget to check out the beautiful and varied inventory on Margaret's website: Margaret (www.marg.co.uk)