Pattern of paranoia

As a young woman, I began my china dinnerware collection because I loved my sister Martha’s pattern. (Later, my future husband declared, “I know this pattern, I’ve eaten off it all my life. It’s the same as my mother’s.”)

A woman selects her china pattern as carefully as she selects her personal fragrance. Mine is “Apple” by Franciscan. I love its cream-colored background with handpainted deep red apples, brown stems and light green leaves. And, I’ve always used it every day.

One of the banes of blindness is that I’ve found myself of late breaking a lot of my china pieces. I'll think they’re secure on a surface only to find they’ve hovered on an edge and fall, shattering. I’ve lost cups and bowls, because I’ve set them in front of my microwave, then, not thinking, I pop its door open, knocking them to the floor.

In the movie “Sleepless in Seattle,” the characters played by Meg Ryan and Bill Pullman are selecting their pattern for a store’s bridal register. When the salesperson asks, “How many place settings?” they reply, in unison, “Ten. Eight is too few, 12 is too many.” In my opinion, a woman can’t be too rich or too thin and can’t have too many place settings.

This reflects the Southern tradition of large family get-togethers. There was a time when I would feed the entire newsroom and half the backshop – buffet style - in my small apartment. As long as guests have big, heavy dinner plates, they can eat sitting in the stairwell or on upstairs beds. The more, the merrier.

Last night, I ventured onto froogle.com to find a good price on replacing my broken china pieces. A link led me to the fascinating history of Franciscan pottery and china in the United States. That piece of Americana led me to a forum where various pattern owners were speculating about the danger of lead content in Franciscan dinnerware.

Well, that’s knowledge I could have done without. I’ve always believed if china is properly glazed, lead is no problem. These gals were suggesting the lead is “leached” from the glaze itself.

Better to avoid serving acidic foods in the Franciscan dishes, they said. (Oh, Lord!) And, never use them in the microwave! Well, since I’ve been doing both for many years, I suppose it’s too late to be paranoid about it.


Franciscan’s “Apple” and “Desert Rose” are the two most popular china patterns in the world, and it would be nice to know they’re safe.

And so, dear readers, I’m depending on you. Anyone have an idea which government agency would be responsible for my safety with regard to the lead in my china?

Equally rattling is the fact that Franciscan dinnerware is now manufactured in China and other places in the Orient, where U.S. safety regulations no longer apply. Surely, someone is responsible for the safety of such imports to America.

Old habits die hard, and I got up this morning and heated cold coffee – in my china cup – in the microwave, just as I’ve done for as long as there have been microwaves. I want my morning coffee first thing and would inject into my veins if I could.

Any ideas about that government agency?


Papamoka said...

Like yourself BJ I am a destructive force to anything fragile such as china. I've resolved myself to Georgia Pacific for my selection. Looks like crap in my mothers six foot tall, lions head with claw feet rounded glass bow front china cabinet but when I use them I know they are easily replaced.

Falzone for America said...

I love the Internet!

You can learn details about people and what is important to them whom you've never met. I loved you story B.J. It gave me a chance to visit with in my mind.

The FDA has been increasingly less effective as time goes by. I think the content of led in china should have been discovered and resolved a long time ago. You can write them on the internet but i have my doubts about their responsiveness.

katherine said...

Hi BJ,

If it's any consolation, my grandfather was a lead-mining engineer in Missouri who spent much of his life in the lead mines. He lived a long, happy life.

As to product info., you might try U.S. Consumer Product Safety Division. There's a toll-free Consumer Hotline 8:30am-5pm ET:
800-638-2772 (TTY 800-638-8270).

Here's their link with lots more contact info. and, if you need it, I'd suggest that a neighbor help you with this, BJ. This URL is filled with phone numbers, email contact addresses, names of department heads, et al. It's a challenge to read through:




Frodo, don't ask about Turkey. said...

Frodo was under the impression that the Department of State has responsibility for China. The appointment of former Senator Clinton certainly gives credence.

tiny said...

Tiny's is Correle, 16 place setting, which was hostess gifts when she sold Tupperware. She got it at cost so stocked up due to having large family and friends.

About all Tiny knows about lead is that she always had a lead foot when driving. And wasn't there lead in all the paint way back when we were growing up?

Your pattern of china is the same as a friend's pattern. When her friend's mother died about three years ago, her friend inherited her mother's china which was the same pattern. Never heard either of them ever mention lead in them.

For sure, Tiny's friend has enough replacements for the rest of her life should she break a piece from her set.

BJ Adkins said...

I remember when you got those. Can you remember the note you left out for Ralph?
I don't know about the lead situation, but I have replaced every single piece of several sets of family china pieces on eBay!

B.J. said...

(B.J. Adkins was a college student when her mother and I were neighbors in the 70s. Before I moved away, she had married and had a baby girl, Leah.)

Betty Joe: Actually I began my china pattern when I was single. My sister Martha gave me the 16-piece starter set of Apple, because I loved hers so much. Then, she gave me accessory pieces for Christmas for many years. Even now, she will send me a few replacement pieces from her own collection!

I believe what you are recalling was when I hit the jackpot at Davis Jewelry in Monticello, Miss. I noticed two boxes of 40-piece sets of Apple sitting on the floor behnd Eutha Davis sales counter. I asked him if he was going to start stocking Apple, and he said he had decided not to, so he sold me the two sets - $80 for 80 pieces of Apple china! A nice start.

I don’t recall the note to Ralph, but I’m sure it had something to do with telling him this was a NECESSARY purchase!