Eat your greens; Lettuce ware and Cabbage ware

I wish I could take you back to Mrs Monro, the interior design shop in Knightsbridge, circa 2001.  I couldn’t find a picture of the shop, only this one of Mrs Geraldine Monro, who never deserted chintz – even in the face of 90s minimalism.  

Their cabbage ware display featuring the work of ceramicist Anne Gordon aka “The cabbage Lady” was the highlight of my lunchtime when I worked in a handbag shop round the corner. 

An artichoke model by Anne Gordon

It was the tipping point.  The moment I stopped associating cabbage ware with a dusty Great Aunt figure who ceremoniously served asparagus from it, tongue in cheek (vegetable on vegetable), to thinking it a very stylish thing.  

The traditions of Cabbage ware and Lettuce ware are rooted in Victorian majolica; richly coloured lead or tin glazed earthenware pottery manufactured during the 19th century across Britain, Europe and America.  Famed for its’ whimsical and naturalistic style, it chimed a chord with the Victorian craze for bringing nature in to the home.  

Photo courtesy of Sothebys, Cabbage ware circa 1755 

Cauliflower ware by Wedgwood

Coalport Country ware by Wedgwood

It’s a look also entrenched in Palm Springs society, where highly coordinated lettuce ware table settings by American ceramicist Dodie Thayer were de rigeur during the 1960s – 80s.  No hostess worth her own salt would be without her lettuce ware soup taureen.  Many well known American collectors such as CZ Guest, Bunny Mellon and Todd Romano amassed vast collections. 

Photo courtesy of sothebys

A sideboard full of lettuce ware, the envy of all

My own collection gleaned from hand me downs, has only just begun.  Peter Rabbit eat your heart out; 

This Portugese majolica lettuce ware dish get's used for all sorts of things, including growing paperwhite bulbs.

 in full bloom.....

I picked up this little on in Spitalfields market, currently used as a soap dish with these little italian olive soaps from Carthusia.

Lettuce and cabbage ware seems to be having a renaissance if the stylish lot on Instagram is anything to go by.  

I’ll admit to preferring the more English style of the odd piece here (like the Queen’s sitting room) and there as opposed to the meticulously coordinated green affair. 


Photo courtesy of Tory Burch

Clearly, collecting is a serious business and the antique pieces fetch high prices.  But OKA sells lovely new pieces such as these:

As does Portugese company Bordallo Pinheiro


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Maybe it's the fact that Spring is on its' way and green is so restful on the eyes.  I know I'll be making more room on my shelves for lettuce ware.