Tuesday, September 6, 2016

1200th Post and an Antique Porcelain Accessory

Yesterday I wrote my 1,200th post.  Out of curiosity I checked to see what my most visited post was.  On 7/1/2013 I wrote about having Afternoon Tea at Royal Park Hotel. They linked to my post on their website where it stayed until a recent update. As a result, the post got 6,005 views.

The second most visited post - and probably the one that really counts since it didn't have any outside help - was my Anne of Green Gables Tea Party written on 9/17/2012. It can be viewed here. 3,969 people have viewed that post, which proves the book's popularity 108 years after it was written. Now on to the next blogging milestone.

Today's post...

In July 2015 two friends and I traveled to Grand Rapids, Ohio where I learned about a Victorian porcelain table accessory - a condensed milk holder.  My friend Linda purchased one, and while recently at her house for a luncheon she brought out her 'official' collection of three.

I'm not certain I'd ever seen them on prior antiquing outings, or if I did, I didn't know what they were so paid no attention to them.  Until last Saturday that is, when I visited Silver Quill antique store. It's a jam-packed store requiring attentive perusing... when what to my wandering eyes did appear, but a porcelain condensed milk holder!  

Condensed milk dates back to 1820 in France, and 1853 in the United States [Borden]. Condensed milk is cow's milk from which water has been removed.  Evaporated milk in some countries is known as unsweetened condensed milk, but we usually think of it as sweetened condensed milk where sugar has been added.  In parts of Asia and Europe, sweetened condensed milk is the preferred milk to be added to tea and coffee.

In Victorian times and into the early 20th Century, condensed milk was placed on the dinner table. Since the milk came in a can, decorative porcelain containers were made to serve it in, along with clear glass liners so the unused portion could be stored in an icebox after meals.  

My research revealed condensed milk holders usually came as a 5-piece set containing an under plate or saucer, the outer container [pictured above], a glass liner, a dipping spoon, and a lid.

The holder [or outer container] has a hole in the bottom so the liner could easily be pushed back out when the meal was over.  The under plate was used to set the spoon on after the milk was scooped out.  

Today, if you're lucky enough to fine one, it will usually just be two pieces - the holder [outer container] and the lid.  They have either been separated from their original under plate, liner, and spoon, or the glass and porcelain pieces have been broken.

The holders were sometimes used for jam as well as condensed milk, since no jar would have ever been placed on a Victorian table.

You'll pay dearly for a 3-piece container [under plate, outer container and lid] - anywhere from $100 up to $400.  

I don't even want to know what the 5-piece Nippon condensed milk set [pictured below] would sell for!

[Internet Photo]

I'm completely satisfied with my 2-piece set for $18!

The sets are almost always made of porcelain, but silver ones do exist.  Gotta love the Victorians and their affection for tabletop accessories!  ;-)

Do you have a condensed milk holder?

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Today I'm joining:  Rose Chintz Cottage for No Place Like Home
Antiques and Teacups for Tuesday Cuppa Tea


  1. It was fun to look back at your Anne of Green Gables Tea. I had no idea there was such a thing as a condensed milk holder and like you, may have seen one in my travels and not known what it was.
    The comment about not putting a jar on a table was one I learned at home - the jam or curd must always be in a pretty jam jar and I have several. Always a tablecloth on my tables too. :-)

  2. Well I'll be danged, this is AWESOME to learn. Had no idea, thanks so much for sharing this amazing treasure - and teaching us- today!

    I think it's brilliant to use condensed milk - that way it doesnt' water down the tea. Leave it to those folks to think of something so practical and brilliant. Love this post!

  3. Congrats on 1200 posts! That is a whole lot to reach ♥


  4. First of all, congratulations on the milestone blog! And I look forward to reading many more, and learning new things as I did today. I don't think I've ever run across a condensed milk holder, if I had, the hole in the bottom would have confused me. But what a great idea to have a removable glass liner. I'm glad you found yours at a reasonable price.

  5. Well, shut my mouth and butter my biscuit, as we say, but I have *never* heard of this item until today! Will definitely be on the lookout for these now.

  6. I haven't had one or see one for quite a few years! They aren't seen often...I think it's 5 or 6 years since I have had one...but there are rabid collectors! It is very hard to find them with all the pieces. Great find! Thanks for linking to Tuesday Cuppa Tea!

  7. Well, as they say, you learn something new every day! I have never heard of these and what a lovely piece you found! I also didn't realize they used condensed milk all those years ago. What a fun and interesting post, Phyllis! I also love your black tea set in your latest post. It's quite handsome. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your day.


  8. So glad I found your post today. I now know what the lovely handled "vase" with a hole in the bottom is. Thanks to you I now know I have the outer liner. I knew it was old and must have had a specific purpose in its' day - it's cream with pink roses - a lovely piece. I have a small bouquet of silk pink African violets in it. Margie in CA

  9. Came across your blog while surfing the internet trying to find a book dedicated to just condensed milk holders -of which I couldn't find any,..oh well. I really enjoyed your blog as I have been collecting these for about the last five years, and because of a smart comment from my husband about collecting dust catchers, now have about 100 of them that are complete sets (top, saucer & holder). I have one glass insert in my collection as they are super hard to find in good condition. And yes, the rare and the really beautiful sets can be quite pricy. Think Pickard hand painted china. I do love seeing the speculation as to what they can be from someone who has never seen one; everything from a flower pot to a soap holder. Enjoy your find, its lovely. Kathy in AL


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