Sunday, March 23, 2014

thrift store spoils, ch. 20: Taylorstone Cathay Day

Allow me to share with you the inspiring thrifting adventure behind what I now refer to as Taylorstone Cathay Day. 

Of course, if you're not interested in reading a story, feel free to scroll down to more photos.

I don't normally venture into thrift stores on weekends. They're crowded and just not worth the aggravation. But a week ago I did stop in at my favorite GW on my way home from an ESL class I teach. It was just a little past noon, and I had to cruise the parking lot for a couple of minutes before I finally found a parking spot on the opposite end of the strip mall, over by the Dunkin Donuts. And even before I entered, I could tell that the place was indeed full of folks. Again, I don't like weekend thrifting. 

So why did I do it on March 15, 2014, a.k.a. Taylorstone Cathay Day? I'm crediting a supernatural vintage-stuff-whispers-to-vintage-nut-in-a-language-only-vintage-lovers-understand phenomenon. 

I felt a pull.

Enough. Let's skip to the near end. Check out the photo of my buggy that I texted to Mama in North Carolina as I headed to the register.

And after sending this image, I still found a couple more pieces to load in there. (Yay!)

Like many of you, I love the perfectly atomic Taylorstone Cathay pattern. And I do know that it's not uncommon in thrift stores, because I see lots of finds on others' blogs. I also consider myself a collector, in fact. (And by "collect," I mean that I've bought, maybe, six or eight pieces.) In fact, my first post on this blog included a modest Taylorstone Cathay find. So you can imagine the double-take I did when I happened upon the many precariously stacked Taylorstone Cathay pieces sitting on the shelves of a housewares endcap. 

Immediately and without regard to price, I knelt and began putting the pieces in my handheld shopping basket. (I never choose the buggy optiontoo cumbersome.) Of course, there was no way I would fit all that was there in that little basket. And, unfortunately, you can't holler "saved!" in a thrift store. Well, you can, I suppose, but there's no guarantee that it'll be effective.

So I stood there, trying to figure out how to go grab a buggy while still protecting my great find from other shoppers (none of whom seemed the slightest bit interested in whatever the heck I'd discovered). But then a GW employee who recognized me as a regular (heck, most of the employees there know me as a regular!) happened by and told me that there was more of the set on the opposite endcap. I think I said in reply something like, "Holy moly." He asked whether I wanted it. Heck, yeah!

So the nice man began putting all of those pieces from the other end-cap in another basket for me. And now I had an ally protecting my "saved!" pieces. I commandeered a buggy at the front of the store. Then back at the housewares aisle, I thanked the nice man and put everything he had gathered into my not-really-so-cumbersome buggy. I also told him that the hubby was going to freak, because I wouldn't be coming home with one little Russel Wright plate today, but with pretty much a whole stinkin' set of 50-year-old dishes. The nice man asked me to then please refrain from mentioning to the hubby his involvement in my adventure. 

Thinking like a seasoned thrifter, I then roamed the rest of the housewares aisles looking for stray pieces from the set. That's when I found two oval platters. Holy moly, again.

My buggy held the following:

  • 13 dinner plates 
  • 10 salad plates
  • 10 bread & butter plates
  • 10 soup bowls
  • 16 cups with 16 saucers 
  • 9 additional cups without saucers
  • 2 oval platters
  • 2 veggie bowls
  • 1 creamer
  • 1 sugar bowl with lid
  • 1 gravy boat with its saucer

It took quite a while to ring up my purchase and then to loosely wrap the entire set. (Duh.) The GW folks kindly found three boxes in the backroom to help me carry everything. During the process, the nice man told me that he had just priced and put the dishes out that morning and that he was glad they were heading out the door so soon. I think the staff believed that this was one of those sets that would sit around taking up space foreveras if it were manufactured by Gibson 10 years ago or something. Each piece was priced between 96 cents and $3.96. In the end, everything I got cost me just under $130, and that's including sales tax. Yay!

In the parking lot, the hubby called wondering where I'd gotten to. (As I mentioned before, I usually head straight home after teaching on Saturdays.) I told him that I had detoured to GW, but that I'd be home soon. Then I said, "Um, dear. This will be a day that will test the strength of our relationship."

He met me at the door when I got home. He shook his head and laughed. He knows me. I explained to him how incredible my find was. And for the umpteenth time, I reminded him that when we married over 25 years ago, we didn't register for china. (I've used that one to justify buying vintage dishes forever. And it works!) He went out back to smoke a cigar, while I unpacked and washed and dried everything. It took me almost two hours. 

The set looks to have never been used. There is no crazing, and there are no stains. Four or five pieces do have small chips. No biggie.

I love that the set includes the gravy boat with its handy-dandy plate.

I also got a creamer and a sugar bowl. Check out the oh-so-mid-century-mod wood lid!

The cups' insides are such a rich green.

A few days after Taylorstone Cathay Day, I returned to the GWon the off chance I'd left a piece sitting there by its lonesome, or the staff had just put out more discovered hiding in the back. And there was a piece: another sugar bowl, sans cool lid, but priced at 96 cents. I grabbed it. I'll probably never find the lid, but I don't care.

Also, a couple of days after Taylorstone Cathay Day, Mama happened across a salt shaker from the set, marked at $4, in a North Carolina thrift store. Did I want it, she asked. Heck, yeah! And in honor of March Madness, I'll declare, "Serendipity, baby!"

I think this will be our go-to nice set when we finally move to our North Carolina home in a few years. I'm planning on decorating with a mid-century modern/mountain theme. It'll work. I'm sure of it.

Thank you for humoring me as I shared my story. You thrifters understand. I know you do. 

As always, thanks to Sir Thrift-a-Lot, a living space, We Call It Junkin, and Thrifter/Maker/Fixer/Farm for the opportunity to link up.



  1. I love this post, your dishes are beautiful! What an amazing score. I never find more than 1 of these pieces at a time.

    1. Once I found two bread & butter plates at the same time. But, otherwise, I was like you: one piece (usually a little damaged) at a time.
      And thanks for saying that you love the post. I tried not to make it too long!

  2. Holy damn that's an epic score on the whole Taylorstone Cathay set!!! Beautiful.

    1. Thanks! I knew that the vintage blog community would appreciate it.

  3. What an epic find! I once had a Cathay Day in a GW, but not nearly on par with yours. Plus there was no kind GW employee (what?!) to help me. So glad you scooped that set up before it was broken or scattered. It was clearly meant to be. :)

    1. Yay! I'm glad you've had your Taylorstone Cathay Day, too.

  4. Wow, what an incredible find! The sets I see generally aren't nearly that complete.
    Oddly, I found a mixing bowl this weekend in what I think is that same pattern. It was pretty dishwashered, though.

    1. Wow. A mixing bowl? I'll have to search online for a photo of one. I believe there's a Cathay butter dish, as well, which wasn't in the set I got.

    2. My bad--it was Blue Heaven. I get the two patterns confused. My apologies!

    3. Easy mistake to make. I have just a couple of pieces of Blue Heaven, because I've run across it only rarely. MCM turquoise is just plain cool.

  5. I am so excited on your behalf! I can feel the joy right through the interwebs!

  6. Fantastic score! It's a great set and definitely a super fun find! I love when I hear the "Call of the Thrift" :)

  7. OH MY....I am loving this post, your story (great) and your find. Can I borrow that "never registered for china" excuse? Brilliant! I'm still laughing. What an incredible score. My heart would have been pounding. I've seen odd pieces here and there, but they are always in poor faded condition. Your set is amazing, and looks brand new. Glad you looked around to find the scattered pieces. I found a lazy susan set scattered everywhere, it's like being on a treasure hunt shopping there, lol.

    Congrats! This is why we all keep shopping GW and other thrifts, a super score like yours.

    1. Thank you for the nice compliment.
      And you are certainly more than welcome to borrow not my "excuse," but my "justification." Yep. It's a legitimate justification!

  8. Wow! I love that set! I have a thing for beautiful dishes - new or old. I'd definitely keep that set if I found it.

    And thanks for the great idea! We didn't register for anything when we married and now I have SUCH a great excuse for buying!! I wonder if it might apply to purses and handbags, as well.

    1. Of course, the registry includes purses and handbags!
      "But, dear, remember that we didn't have time to register for his-and-her monogrammed purses and wallets for every day of the week. Don't you know that doing so is traditional?!! But don't fret, dear. I'll pick something up while I'm out. You want your wallet out of leather? Or snake?"

  9. Oh my goodness, what a great story! What a great find! I thought I'd done well with my partial set of Franciscan Autumn, but you really hit the jackpot. I love how the cups have the solid green inside. Really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing this at the History & Home Link Party this week! Take care - Dawn @ We Call It

    1. I like Franciscan patterns, too!
      And thanks again to you for your History & Home Link Party. It's fun to share there; you have such an eclectic group of participants.

  10. wow what a find! beautiful set.

  11. I have fond pieces of it in Alaska even--I've bought a few but my dish pantry is full (ahem) do I pass them by now, sadly pass them by!

  12. I love it! And I can relate: "my dish pantry is full (ahem)."