I spent an amazing afternoon last Sunday at the Southworks Antique Mall in Cambridge On getting lost in the aisles and the untold stories of everything that I saw. It’s overwhelming to me that I can walk in, wander around, and buy a piece of history; that is what antiques are, evidence of lives and events that came before, pieces of someones life. While I can appreciate beauty in most periods and styles, I am most attracted to primitives, items that were often hand made or made in small quantities, for practical purposes. Things made by and for people whose stories were never recorded in history books. Yet in their own simple way, they are so often beautiful. However, primitives are hard to find as these items, whether furniture, toys or kitchen tools were meant to be used daily, and they were, used, often, until they were worn out or broken, mended until they could be fixed no more, and then discarded.
My red ware bowl is then unique as it has survived intact with barely a chip. Red ware by simple definition is earthenware made from clay that contains a large amount of the mineral ferrous ferrous oxide, thus giving it a reddish colour. My bowl is a Maritime red ware piece from the early to mid 18th century and it is “highly imitative of English wares, particularity in the use of the slip lining.”
I first saw this bowl at an outdoor spring antique fair; a warm unglazed red rust colour on the outside and a soft cream slip interior. I have a thing for big bowls and this one is very big, almost two feet in circumference (is that the right word?). I fell in love with the bowl. However, it was as expensive as it was beautiful and it wasn’t what we were there for…so I walked away from it, and went home. About a month later, we were in the shop of the dealer who had the bowl, Land and Ross in Shakespeare On (amazing dealers of both fine and primitive antiques) buying a large pine harvest table and my smarter less emotional half negotiated the bowl into the sale, something that I didn’t think to ask for as I didn’t think it would be possible. So now it’s mine and that is my part of the story, but this elegantly simple bowl has a history, a life of hard but necessary use, it has its own story involving hard work and probably female hands. I don’t use it the kitchen but in the fall it’s filled with pine cones, at Christmas it holds our Crackers and this past Mardi Gras it was over flowing with masks and beads. For now, it’s mine.