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From Sheila Linton of New York City

Dear Mrs. Dickinson:  Thank you for your informative and beautiful website which has answered many questions for me regarding the set of Schumann"Empress"Dresden Flowers which have been in my family since 1938.  I recently passed the set, which was my late Mother's, to my niece.  I wrote the essay below which I would like to share with you.  Warm regards, Sheila M. Linton, New York, New York, February 5, 2007

Dear Sheila:  I am thrilled beyond words to have received your e-mail.  Thanks so much for sharing your family's wonderful history of acquiring, using, loving, and bequeathing your beautiful Schumann.  My sincerest best wishes to you and your family, Sharon Dickinson

At the end of this essay are pictures of Sheila's collection of Schumann.  The set is a combination of the Old Dresden Flowers with the straight edge rims (the forerunner of what came to be called Empress); the Empress Dresden Flowers with the scalloped edge rim; an unknown reticulated (pierced rim) Dresden Flowers which we call Dresden Swags; and some older-style Dresden Flowers reticulated pieces.

Here is Sheila's beautiful essay:

A GIFT OF LOVE

 by  

Sheila M. Linton

January, 2007

                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                
On September 1, 1939, Poland was invaded by Germany.  It was the start of World War ll, an era of immeasurable tragedy and ultimate triumph over the evils of totalitarianism.
 
Just a few days before, on August 28th in the safe haven of the Bronx, New York, my brother Lewis was born.  To my six-year-old sensibilities, it was as though I was given a new doll with which to play.  That early bond between us matured as we did, and it grew into a loving friendship during those wartime years of ration books, air raid drills, and relatives serving in the Armed Forces from Italy to the Philippines.
 
My parents, Morris and Sophie, possessed a fine "sense of occasion" and we always celebrated our birthdays, their wedding anniversary, and various religious and secular holidays with great fanfare.  Our plans included surprises for the honoree, so there were homemade gifts or simple store-bought ones that my brother and I saved for from our weekly allowances of twenty-five cents.
 
In the economic context of the 1940's, a nickel bought a phone call, a subway ride, an ice cream cone, and a lamb chop.  As a registered pharmacist, with a degree from Fordham University, my father's weekly salary was thirty-five dollars.  The monthly rent for our four room apartment on Nelson Avenue in the Bronx was fifty dollars. 
 
Central to our celebrations were my mother's sumptuous dinners epitomized by her annual Thanksgiving feast.  Hospitality was one of the elemental threads that were woven through the tapestry of our HOME-SWEET-HOME, and a steady flow of family and friends were entertained around our table throughout the year.
 
For these special occasions my mother presented her flavorful food on a set of magnificent Bavarian china given to her by my father who probably paid no more than one hundred dollars back in the 1930's.  When set with the fine porcelain china decorated with bouquets and intricate garlands, my mother called the table "her garden."  The name of the china pattern is the Schumann "Empress" Dresden Flowers.
 
I recall the ritual of cleansing the dishes which usually were a bit dusty from being stored well out of harm's way on the topmost shelf of a kitchen cabinet.  My brother and I watched with baited breath as my father carefully lowered the fragile set from the cabinet to a countertop.  Preparatory to immersing each piece in tepid water made frothy from Lux soap flakes used at other times to wash delicate lingerie, my mother lined our sink with a thick turkish towel.  This served as a cushion and reduced the chances of chipping the precious dishes.  Inevitably my mother's ritual included a momentary pause from the chore at hand when she would hold up a cup to the light to instruct me about the fineness of the porcelain.  One hallmark of quality was the thinness of the piece, as I could discern colorful patterns visible through the other side.
 
The rotund teapot did not come with the original set, but was acquired by Lewis and me when I was fifteen years old.  At 5th Avenue & 52nd Street, there was an upscale gift shop called Ovington's Department Store, founded by Edward Judson Ovington (b.1831 - d.1931) and his brother Theodore.  On one of our window-shopping sprees with cousin Clare Eichenbaum (which meant that we observed far more than we actually purchased), I was astonished to see on display a teapot with the identical "Empress" pattern of my mother's dishes.  I asked the saleslady the price and was quoted twenty-five dollars, a huge amount at the time.
 
That autumn, my brother and I agreed that the teapot would be a perfect gift to celebrate our parents' springtime wedding anniversary.  They were married on May 27, 1929, in a simple ceremony at the home of Sophie's brother Jacob and sister-in-law Sylvia.  It was Aunt Sylvia's relatives, The Grubmans, who were furriers with various business connections, who obtained the set of Bavarian china.  Our family legend had it that the dishes were smuggled out of Germany just before the outbreak of the war, circa 1938.
 
All through that winter of 1948, Lewis and I saved coins from our weekly allowances and small earnings from chores until the quoted grand sum was obtained.  I returned to Ovington's, dumped out on the counter twenty-five dollars worth of coins from a little box that served as our bank, and the teapot became ours!  As I write, this very teapot sells for four hundred seventy five dollars according to a website for fine European antiques run by:
 
Sharon Dickinson Fine Antiques
P. O. Box 118
Lancaster, Texas  75146-0118
Phone: 972-227-0640 (Dallas Area)
http://www.efineantiques.com
 
In 1964, my family moved from the Bronx to an apartment in Stuyvesant Town on the shores of Manhattan's East River.  For the journey, few of our possessions were packed as carefully as my mother's dishes.  They were used less and less as Morris and Sophie grew more frail with the passing years, until finally the set lay unused and stored away in my closet for over a decade.
 
In 1998, my late brother Lewis' daughter, Deborah, my cherished niece, called me from a resort in Bali to announce the happy news that she was going to marry Howard Saunders!  He is from Philadelphia, the city where she and her sister, my dear niece Stacey, were residing and employed as social workers.  Debbie said that she and Howard wanted their wedding ceremony to be in New York City.  I expressed my puzzlement at their choice of location because I knew all their friends and Howard's family were from Philadelphia.  Then Debbie presented me with one of the greatest honors of my life.  She told me that they wanted my presence at their wedding and wondered if they could be married in the bedroom that is my year-round haven.  I was overjoyed and excited that among my plans for this milestone event, my mother's "Empress" dishes would be used for the buffet!  They made an impressive presentation along with her crystal goblets and sterling flatware.
 
After the wedding, the dishes were packed away once again until 2007 when Stacey moved into a rambling fieldstone house in Mt. Airy, Pennsylvania, that is a mere bicycle ride away to Wynwood where Debbie and Howard are raising their growing family of Leor and the twins Gram and Lola.
 
Debbie favors contemporary design, while Stacey likes the more traditional.  With Stacey settling into a cozy home,"where I could stay forever," it was the perfect time for me to pass along to her Grandma Sophie's Bavarian porcelain.  She was so appreciative of the esthetics of the dishes and the family heritage imbued in each of the hundred pieces that I was both touched and gratified.  We held hands as I gave her my blessing that "Her cup runneth over, that her table should always be bountiful and surrounded by loving family and friends."  My sole wish is that the dishes never be sold, but remain in our family.  Stacey will pass them to Lola Sophie, named for her Great-Grandmother, or to the loving partners of Leor or Gram.
 
Certainly my mother Sophie would be as happy as I to know that her dishes will be passed along as a family tradition associated with happy events.  In 1938 how could any of us imagine that my father's gift of love to her would touch generations far beyond her lifetime?

Click here for Sheila's personal website (a truly grand lady) and more of her beautiful writings

Sheila Linton's Schumann Collection

Royal Bavarian Dresdner Art was a product line name used by the Schumann China Corporation of New York City for distributing Schumann products in the United States, c.1931-1941.  Sheila's family history and pictures serve as excellent documentation of this information and the dating of this Dresdner Art Schumann mark shown below, which would have been applied at the Schumann factory in Arzberg, Bavaria, Germany, prior to shipment to America.

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1938 Old Schumann Dresden with straight edge rim that was the forerunner of what came to be called Empress

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1948 Schumann Empress Dresden with the scalloped edge rim

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1948 Schumann "Dresden Swags" (as we have named it)

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1920's-30's Schumann Unknown version of Dresden Flowers, older style reticulation

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 November 11, 2017

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