Introduction to Fern Ware


As you may know K and I are pro shoppers. We like stuff. Especially the good interesting old stuff. You could call us collectors but please, do not refer to the things we acquire as "collectibles". It's just a term that makes me shudder. Conjures images of troll dolls and beanie babies.

Alas, back to the topic at hand, which will be Fern Ware. I guess, strictly speaking two items is not quite enough to constitute a collection. Whatevs. This one started about eight years ago when I gifted this Fern Ware box to K for his birthday. We have a lovely tradition of buying decorative boxes for each other. We also both like fern botanical prints, fern fabrics etc. When we spotted this box at an antiques sale we both admired it. It stuck in my head so I contacted the dealer after the show to see if he still had it. He did. It was fate. 

Fern Ware looks a lot like magic to me. It originated in Mauchline, Scotland (hence why it is also called Mauchline ware) in the 1820s and continued until 1933. The fun thing about Mauchline Fern Ware is that it is essentially a little DIY project that was turned into a deorative arts industry. The effect is produced by laying actual ferns on a sycamore wood object, colouring around the ferns using dark brown, removing the ferns and then varnishing the finished project. Coincidentally Mauchline also produced Tartanware. Also love.


Not long after, K found this pretty volume and gave it to me. It is the Complete Poetical Works of William Cowper, 1870! So in love.


It's probably the most beautiful book we own.


As if I needed further convincing of its charms, here is the inscription in the most glorious hand.

1st Prize

Awarded to

Simon B. Briekes

For general proficiency

in 5th Class

New Dundee March 23, 1870

C.B. Lawlor



Take another look at that P.

So beautiful.