Tucked inside of one of these ornate vases was a note that read:
“Mantle Vases—Pair—the gorgeous vases that were Aunt Lottie’s (Charlotte Spelman) always stood on a mantle piece—never on moveable furniture—accounts for their preservation for so long a time. They are very valuable.” The note is signed, “EDC” (Emily Downer Cole), 140 years old Family Heirloom, not to be sold.”
In 1993, Marvanelle Downer Nelson, the great-great niece of Charlotte “Aunt Lottie” Spelman, brought the pair of vases back to Granville and they now grace the mantle in the Ladies’ parlor at the Robbins Hunter Museum. They flank a clock that also belonged to the Downer family.
The vases are examples of “Old Paris” or “Vieux Paris” porcelain, a form that is highly prized by collectors around the world. An incredible quantity and variety of forms were manufactured in and around the city of Paris in the nineteenth century, primarily before 1870. As with most Old Paris porcelain, these vases are not marked. They are beautifully decorated with applied poppies and leaves, cobalt, gilt, and painted flowers. Also, as was the custom, each bears a similar, but slightly different image of flowers.
If Charlotte were here, I would like to ask her how she came by the vases? Did someone bring them as a gift? Perhaps a suitor? Or did she purchase them locally? The more one learns, the more questions one has!