I love to thrift. And there’s nothing better than when I find an item I’ve been dreaming about at the thrift store. If I get it for a good deal too it’s the cherry on top of a fortunate day.
Chinoiserie style is one of those decor styles that you can easily acquire secondhand if you’re diligent. Today, I’m talking about Chinoiserie chinaware and particular patterns you want to keep an eye out for the next time you go shopping.
The first Chinoiserie chinaware pattern on the list is Blue Willow.
The Blue Willow pattern is a classic. Not only are its colors simple yet beautiful, but its design is iconic.
You can identify blue willow by a few features:
- A pair of doves flying in the sky
- Pagoda in the background
- A willow tree in the foreground
Sometimes there will be depictions of a boat or bridge. These generally vary from maker to maker.
You may also run into Red Willow, a red variation of the Blue Willow pattern. I’ve never had much luck finding these pieces but you should keep them on your radar if it’s a variation you like.
There are various makers of this pattern. Some include:
- Homer Laughlin
- Johnson Bros.
- Royal Cuthbertson
And more. Keep in mind that some blue willow is unmarked too.
I love this pattern because it’s feature-worthy. It captures a moment of a story that seems to belong in a book. It’s not just a tree and not just a pair of doves. There’s a story there. And that’s a great conversation starter for dinner with friends or family.
One of my best thrift scores of all time was a set of Royal Cuthbertson Blue Willow. Perfect condition. No chips. About $16 for 25 pieces (8 dinner plates, 8 salad plates, 8 dessert plates, and a platter). I couldn’t believe my luck.
I’ve since run into many other variations of blue willow from various makers. Always pieces, but never a complete set. That said, with how frequently I see it at thrift stores, I’d say this is a great pattern to hunt for secondhand.
Blue Willow is my favorite Chinoiserie chinaware pattern to use. I pull it out of the hutch on casual days when I want a pop of something pretty. I can truthfully say I get a lot of joy out of it.
Rose Medallion is another popular pattern in the world of Chinoiserie chinaware. It makes excellent use of many colors and uses them strategically to draw attention to its elaborate designs.
The name “Rose Medallion” is somewhat misleading since roses are not always a prominent feature of this pattern. Instead, the name refers to the pink color that dominates the porcelain. Other colors commonly used include green, blue, red, and gold.
One defining aspect of the rose medallion pattern is that the designs it features are confined within panels. Plates are composed of four panels. Within the panels, you’ll find motifs of imperial life, plants (like flowers), birds, butterflies, and more. On the other hand, vases can have a wide number of panels.
Rose Medallion is in high demand for decorators and collectors. Therefore, you may find that you’ll find a piece here and there.
Not all Rose Medallion porcelain is food-safe. Some iterations are usually meant as decor and say something to the effect of, “For Decorative Use Only.” Keep this in mind when deciding to purchase a piece. You can definitely incorporate rose medallion plates into a plate wall!
If you choose to start your own collection, I advise you to keep images of your pieces on your phone. Rose medallion is not always identical from one piece to another, so this is especially useful if you want matching pieces.
The next Chinoiserie chinaware pattern on the list is Mikado by Royal Crown Derby.
This pattern is a luxurious and incredibly elegant. Royal Crown Derby introduced it in the late 1800s and it quickly gained popularity among the British aristocracy. It’s fancy enough that it made an appearance on season 2 of Bridgerton!
The design features lots of foliage and birds, reminiscent of the Blue Willow pattern. However, Mikado also depicts people, both men and women depending on the piece. The details on this china pattern are spectacular. You can clearly see defined facial features and little details on clothing.
Another unique characteristic of the Mikado Chinoiserie pattern is the gold rim. It offers a pop of brightness to all the blue and white. However, I will say you’ll have to hand wash these pieces because of the gold. Otherwise, the dishwasher may destroy the finish.
I particularly like the Mikado pattern because it reminds me of a painting. Blue Willow patterns can look very manufactured. While there’s nothing wrong with that, Mikado just feels a little more organic.
Royal Crown Derby hadn’t manufactured this Chinoiserie pattern in a while, so it may be challenging to collect. But it’s not impossible. All the pieces I own I’ve thrifted over the years.
Rice Grain (Linglong) Porcelain
Rice grain is the third blue and white porcelain on our list of Chinoiserie chinaware, but it’s well deserved. Although it appears to be blue and white, the “white” is in fact a very pale blue. You can’t tell unless you compare it to true white porcelain.
Rice grain doesn’t describe the specific pattern, but rather the little divots on the ceramic that look like rice. When you hold them up to the light, you can see that the ceramic is nearly translucent in those areas.
In terms of design, rice grain porcelain has a blue lattice along the rim of the plate. The center design will vary. You’ll generally find three designs in this style of porcelain:
- Dragon Pattern
- Chrysanthemum Pattern
- Pagoda Pattern – Difficult to find
I prefer the dragon pattern as it adds a nice touch of variety to my large collection of floral motifs. You can find many types of porcelain in this design style, including dinner plates, salad plates, rice bowls, soup bowls, soup spoons, and more.
I love my rice grain porcelain because of its simplicity. Sure, it’s got some decorative elements, but they aren’t incredibly elaborate. So I find that it pairs nicely with more complex patterns like Blue Willow.
Also, dragons are cool. Chinese dragons in particular are serpent-like and if you’ve been here long enough you know that’s right up my alley.
The last Chinoiserie chinaware pattern on this list is Tobacco Leaf!
It’s no surprise that many love tobacco leaf porcelain. Its bold colors are beautiful and unusual. And its floral design is intricate, making it, unlike the typical floral chinaware we see from England. It stands out amongst all the various other china patterns with little effort on its part.
You will find variations among Tobacco Leaf pieces depending on the manufacturer. Mottahedeh is the most coveted – and the most expensive.
Their take on the Tobacco Leaf pattern includes some rich blues and pinks that you cannot find in most chinaware.
Imperial Leaf is another brand worthy of consideration. The colors are slightly more muted than the Mottahedeh, but it’s beautiful nonetheless.
Let me make it very clear that thrifting anything with a Tobacco Leaf pattern may be more difficult than some of the other patterns on this list. I have been thrifting for many, many years now. Yet, I’ve only ever encountered a small, Tobacco Leaf trinket dish in the wild. Nothing more.
However, it may just be my location. I know you can commonly find Tobacco Leaf motifs in southern states like the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, etc. Not to say it’s easy to find them, but the pattern speaks more to the southern decor of the eastern United States.
Having said that, I’ve found tons of success with marketplaces like Facebook and Offerup.
You want to look out for brands like:
- Imperial Leaf
Use these terms to search for products with a Tobacco Leaf pattern.
Amazingly, I got a good deal on my Imperial Leaf plates at an online auction. I paid just a little over $80 total for a set of six dinner plates and a platter. Granted, $80 isn’t a thrift store price, but it defiantly beats paying around $25 per plate on Ebay.
This list is comprised of my favorite Chinoiserie chinaware patterns, but there’s plenty more out there to be discovered! Do you have any favorites that didn’t make the list? Let me know below.