Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Geithain Enamelware

Bringing Home the Milk Can

An “upgrading” project is in vigorous action, thanks in part to the very limited space in my tiny house. To say it was built by dwarfs for dwarfs is no understatement, as anyone over a certain height ends up horribly stooped in the entryway. 

The upgrading started last year when an elderly relative entered a nursing home and told me to take whatever I wanted from her house. Did I add that I have the key? At first guilt overtook me, how could I just walk in and take her things? That lasted about 0.5 seconds before I was over there dragging home anything I could cram into grocery two bags.

Unfortunately an epiphany occurred: Stuff in = stuff out. That is, if I want to bring antiques over, I am going to have to part with some of my own things. To make this more palatable for me mentally, I entitled this “upgrading.”

Upgrading consists of culling things that aren’t really old or valuable and replacing them with things that are. OK, some of the things I have acquired have been only practical in nature – out with the corroded old electric kettle and in with the new. But I also brought home things I really loved, like a ceramic piece by Kurt Feuerreigel, a book on a local castle, and a wooden box full of antique buttons. I have tried to be very thoughtful about what I bring home and make planned trips with my bags. But sometimes I just lose my mind.

On Sunday I went back for a brown Geithain lidded enamel milk can. I had just washed and rearranged everything on a display shelf in my kitchen and decided that the milk can would fit right in.

Enameled dishes, pots, and utensils were made in Geithain, Germany, from 1898 until 2006. You may even have one, if you have matching pots and pans for your Villeroy & Boch or other high-end dishes. The company went through this brown phase, which I really didn’t appreciate until I ran out of vases and started putting the fresh flowers my company brought to me in the enameled water pitchers. Boy, did they look snappy.

So having dutifully purged my shelves, I walked one block down the street to get the milk can. An hour later I came back dazed bearing a prewar, repoussé  tin souvenir box of Dresden; an oven-safe glass plate; a lusterware souvenir vase of Wittenberg, the city where Martin Luther tacked up his church doctrine; a bar of soap; a wooden rolling pin that makes cute animal patterns when you roll out the dough; oh yeah, and the milk can. I think future purging may be in order. 



  1. I love that brown pitcher with the flowers.

    Good luck with the purging. I am getting AWESOME at it myself after all the practice I've had, but I don't know much about or collect antiques, either.

  2. That was the first piece of the Geithain brown enamel I was even interested in. I look at every piece as a fun research project. You can visit any time to help me purge :-)

  3. I admire those of you who have the fortitude to purge as you acquire; I can't even bring myself to part with vases and pitchers that no longer hold water...they work well with dried arrangements.

    1. Don't say things like that Stephanie - you'll make me bring things back in from the garbage toter :-)