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Collecting Blue Willow china

The story behind Blue Willow
Laurie M. Jackson

If it's Spring it must be time for Blue Willow. The blue and white Asian-themed pattern was first manufactured in England by Spode in the late 1700's and has been widely copied ever since, and even to this day. At any given moment you can probably find a plate, a tea cup or a whole set of Blue Willow-like china in any antique or thrift store in town.

Did you know the pattern is based upon a Chinese folk tale? It's a familiar story: the daughter of a rich man fell in love with a servant, and to keep them apart her father had her imprisoned in a castle. She escaped with the help of her lover one day, running over a bridge and jumping into a waiting boat. Alas, they die in a shipwreck and turn into a pair of love birds.

Take a look at the next blue and white china plate you come across; if it has those motifs -- a bridge, a boat, a pair of running figures, and love birds -- chances are good it's a version of Blue Willow.

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