Sunday, July 31, 2016

Packin' Up the Memories

my "new" china

While visiting and caring for The Cook on Fifth Street earlier this month, I packed up her Bavarian china that she had told me a few months ago I could have; and we brought it home with us in our car.

the name of the china pattern is "Charming Barbara" (!!!)

Aside from the fact that it is a beautiful set, I always wondered and hoped that someday it would be mine for a pretty obvious reason...

close-up of the tan rose pattern on a white-white background
As I packed it up, I thought about the people I know who have dined on this china: my father, my mother, my sister, a couple of teen boyfriends who were invited to dinner (including my husband!), my maternal grandparents, my paternal grandmother and my aunt, and numerous friends of the family, including pastors and their wives. 

Entertaining now is generally much more casual than it used to be, but I still take a lot of pleasure in setting out the fancy stuff for key holidays in November, December, and Easter, plus the occasional tea-lunch with girlfriends for birthdays and such.

It was interesting that the time would come for me to bring this china home, and that I had to pack it myself. Just a few weeks before that, one of my friends asked if I and a couple of other friends would pack up the contents of her china cabinet as she prepared for an out-of-state relocation to another house. She already knew that I had moved many times, so there was the assumption that I was a pro at packing breakables.  

Truth be told, all of the moves of my adult life (9, if I remember correctly) were packed up and paid for by my husband's employer. So although I had done a lot of observing over the years and had unpacked every one of them myself, I had done very little of the actual packing.

But happily, one of the other gals she invited to help is employed at a place that packs up antiques all the time, so she gave us some pointers before we began. I am waiting to learn if what I packed for my friend made it to the destination safely (i.e. no breakage). In the meantime, this opportunity came for me to pack up china for myself!

I already knew that one should not be sparing with the packing paper. This china from my mother was moved many times and one move in particular, from southern California to British Columbia, was disastrous. All the pieces survived the experience just fine with the exception of the dinner plates. The jerk person who packed them left them all in a stack and wrapped paper around the entire stack, with nothing between each plate.  The result was fodder for the trash. All 12 dinner plates were destroyed.

But what I did not know until my antique-packing friend taught us was that after wrapping each plate individually with paper, they should be placed in the packing box vertically, which tends to cushion them better.

pack the plates vertically inside the box

That is what I did with my friend's fine Noritake china, and then with the Charming Barbara pieces as well. When I unpacked my dishes this past week, they were in perfect condition. It was a delight to see them in my own home and then neatly stored away in a cupboard.

china in the pie safe

I thought I would pass on a few more helpful details in case any of my readers are thinking of making a move and having to do the dish-packing yourself. 

To pack up this set of china, which has place settings for twelve , I went to the U-Haul company and bought 5 boxes. I wanted what I think of in moving company lingo as "book cartons," because they are big enough to pack a large platter but not so big that I can't lift the packed box by myself. A "dish pack" was going to be too large for me to lift by myself, and also might not fit well into the back of our smallish SUV, along with our luggage.

16 3/8" x 12 5/8" x 12 5/8" box

Note: it is all too easy to pack boxes too heavy. Avoid that when you can.

As it turned out, I only needed three and a half of the five boxes for the dishes. Each of these boxes cost me 99 cents at U-Haul.

wrapping paper 

I also bought packing/wrapping paper, which came in a box of 200 sheets. That cost me $9.99 and unless I move my entire household again, my children will inherit a lot of paper! 

My total purchase at U-Haul included a black marking pen, a box cutter, and packing tape.

For me, the memories have been successfully packed and unpacked. There is no sense in packing carelessly only to end up with breakage later. 


  1. What beautiful china, Barbara. When we recently made the move from Alabama to New York, we lovingly packed each and every piece of mismatched china and dish. And within a year, my husband had gifted me with a complete set of antique Keystone from the Canon Sprurg Pottery Company-USA rose china and a antique china cabinet to host them...which I have never had before. After reading your post, I do believe I ought to surprise the boys and use the "good china". Thank you sweet friend for such a lovely post...have a beautiful SONday.

  2. Thanks for the tips. I will be packing up my Noritake china for our granddaughter, Lauren, one of these days soon. She has accepted the gift and will tell us soon when she can get away for a weekend to drive up our way (a 4-hour trip). I have some other things for her too if she wants them. Your 'new' set is gorgeous.

  3. You can get the same size box for .77 at Lowe's. I just purchased 15 of them for packing books. (I was tired of waiting on the grocery store to put out the size box I needed. So much easier to purchase them. Even packed with books, they are much easier to carry and have the handles, too.

    Oh you taught me something new. I did not know to pack plates vertically. Seems counterintuitive, but with enough packaging material...

    Your set is lovely and a precious name, too...

  4. What lovely China and I do love the name. :o)) I know all about the size of the box and quickly they can become very heavy. I used only small boxes for our big move last summer. The movers could not believe ALL the boxes I had but I wanted to be able to lift them and not risk hurting myself. And, I knew about packing plates vertically as my parents moved many times since my Dad was in the ministry and my Mom heard this from someone and passed the tip on to me. It certainly doesn't make sense to me but it seems to work.