Someone in the 1950s took the trouble of having this tea cup sent to England to have an image of the Terrace area impressed on its surface. Who was behind it? What was their motivation?

Tea cup mystery points to proud past

There are many vintage collectors in the north. These treasure seekers are a quieter group, who learn how to spot a valuable “find” and take it to the cashier with an unmatched swiftness. The motivations of collectors vary. Some collect because they appreciate having an item which has not been reproduced in the thousands. Others collect believing that if an item has lasted for 50 or 80 years, its value will provide them with many years of enjoyment. A few collectors enjoy seeing the stamp with ‘Made in England’ on the bottom of their treasure. Then a few collectors, like myself, are taken by an item and contemplate its history.

When I found this Skeena Valley tea cup and saucer I knew two things rather quickly. First, this is a wonderfully unique item. Second, it was unmistakably a tribute to Terrace! As the owner of Vintage Pairing, I have seen hundreds of dishes. This Skeena River cup and saucer however made me look twice and wonder, who would take a picture of the Skeena, send that picture to an England tea cup manufacturer, and then have it sent back? How did this cup and saucer travel safely to Terrace? Are there others like it?

Margaret-Anne Baxter, a local Terrace resident and a board member of the Terrace and District Museum Society, is a lady I know to be the expert in local history and we began talking about this Skeena River tea cup and saucer. She was interested in knowing more. Margaret Anne and I met over tea to discuss the Skeena River tea cup and saucer. When she looked closely at the Skeena River cup and saucer, she immediately recognized it was from the 1950’s because it shows the railway and road bridge. Margaret-Anne said, “This speaks to this community which is proud enough of the area to put these pictures on tea cups!” In the 1950’s, tea cups were not only a source of enjoyment for families, but also a conversation piece.

Margaret-Anne suggested I could sell the teacup and saucer for a generous sum, or I could donate it to Heritage Park! The latter was an appealing idea. Donate this item to be appreciated by many for years to come. Soon afterwards, I met with Lane McGarrity, the interim curator at Heritage Park. I was surprised when Lane showed me a Lakelse Lake and a Sleeping Beauty tea cup and saucer. Heritage Park’s Sleeping Beauty cup has the markings, “Made Exclusively for Marguerite’s Flowers and Gifts”. Interestingly, Heritage Park’s cup and saucer from the Hot Springs, as Margaret-Anne noted, are from before the addition to the indoor pool and has the markings, “Made in Gladstone Exclusively for Lakelse Hot Springs”.

The Terrace and District Heritage Society kindly allowed me to host a table and display my Skeena River tea cup and saucer during their Heritage Day event Feb. 17 at the Arena Banquet Room. Vintage Pairing and Heritage Park are inviting you to join us here from 1-4 p.m. as we seek more information about these remarkable pieces of Terrace history and find out more about the people who brought them into being! Heritage Park will also be hosting their own table with historical images, objects, and much more! Come out and support Heritage Day 2018,“Heritage Stands the Test of Time.”

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