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Vintage Mottahedeh "Blue Canton" Master Salt Dish

Vintage Mottahedeh "Blue Canton" Master Salt Dish


“The height of good taste is the appreciation of Blue and White.”

~ Mildred Mottahedeh

The blue and white patterns are unmistakeable. Having stood the test of time, these beloved centuries-old patterns vary, but all have a mix of similar design elements: Chinese houses, boat scenes, weeping willow trees, butterflies, birds and bugs all rendered in inky shades of blue against white porcelain. This style of porcelain, that can still be found today in antique and resale shops, actually was the special china of the colonial elite in North America. 

During colonial times, cargo ships set sail for Europe loaded with raw agricultural materials such as cotton, indigo, sugar and rice. On the return voyage from Europe to the New World, the ships carried finished products such as furniture, fabric, ceramics, paper and munitions. Porcelain shipped to the colonies was from China, via England, and would make the long voyage packed in crates full of straw. The transferware decorations of the wares was almost exclusively cobalt blue.

While the Continental porcelain factories produced fine china plates hand-decorated in shades of yellow, pink, rust and gold reserved for wealthy European nobility, the simple monochromatic blue "Canton ware" was considered the height of elegance in the New World. Named for the great Chinese trading port from which it came, blue and white Canton ware served as the "everyday" china for George Washington and his family. Chinese blue and white porcelain was in demand well into the 19th century and has become part of the heritage of many American families.

Under license of the Historic Charleston Foundation, Mottahedeh's Blue Canton collection has been lovingly reproduced in Portugal just as the Chinese first made it - the clay body is white with a gray-blue cast, which was the color of the clay mined in China at the original time period Blue Canton was exported.  The blue transferware decoration is both soft and vibrant - an effect that can only be produced by using naturally occurring cobalt. First discovered in what was once Persia, cobalt is an element that is mined out of the ground and creates a special blue. The first cobalt was used by the Chinese before 1200 AD and is a characteristic feature of many old porcelains because it is one of the first colors ceramicists used successfully.

From the revered Mottahedeh Blue Canton collection, we are pleased to offer this lovely salt dish. Rectangular in shape and sized to hold a generous amount of salt, it also makes an equally charming soap dish. With a heritage that spans centuries, this salt dish in the beloved Blue Canton pattern is sure to create a memorable tablescape that is timeless in its historic charms.

Strictly limited quantities (at listing a total of 2 salt dishes are available) and subject to prior sale. In very good vintage condition. 2"H x 4" x 3".


Learn More About Mottahedeh & Co.

Founded by husband and wife, Rafi and Mildred Mottahedeh, for over 90 years Mottahedeh & Co. has focused on complex and beautiful colors; unique historic shapes; centuries-old craftsmanship; and an impeccable attention to detail. 

Born in Seabright, N.J. in 1908, Mildred Root began collecting Japanese prints at age 13 after moving to New York City where she met Rafi Y. Mottahedeh, an Iranian-born importer. The Mottahedehs began acquiring Oriental porcelains, ivories, jades and bronzes, amassing one of the world's finest private collections with some 2,000 pieces.

In 1929, the couple married and founded Mottahedeh & Company in Manhattan, which rose to prominence as one of the most prestigious firms in the reproduction of porcelain, producing some 1,500 different items for more than 3,000 stores, from Tiffany's to small gift boutiques. The company also reproduced pieces in the collections of museums like the Metropolitan and the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris for sale in their shops.

Mottahedeh reproductions have graced the White House as well as the reception rooms of the State Department in Washington. With an eye for good design and a mind for practicality, Mrs. Mottahedeh refused to reproduce a piece simply for its historical significance but demanded instead that the object ''have character and usability.'' Among those works meeting her criteria were a monteith, or punch bowl, incorporating the presidential seal, which President Ronald Reagan presented to heads of state, and a dinner service designed by Pierre L'Enfant for George Washington.

(Mottahedeh history courtesy of The New York Times.)

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