This is what I spent a fair bit of my day today working on – packing up the hutch we all refer to as The Wexford Shrine. You can see why we call it that – and this is after I had already packed all of the luncheon plates, all of the water and tea tumblers, all of the mugs, all of the sherbet/champagne glasses, and all of the punch cups. It’s about 1/3 empty at this point.
I started collecting this stuff when I was about 15, while I was working at my first non-family paying job at a Sprouse-Reitz variety store. This was in the late 70s, and I think that was when Wexford “crystal” was experiencing a bit of a renewal in the “fancy dishes” market. Being just fifteen, and having very little good taste to my name, I looked at this stuff and thought – “wow, shiny!” So I opened up a layaway account with my new employer, and started to put away a few pieces of Wexford every month, paying for it with automatic deductions from my 30 hour a week paycheck. It didn’t take too long to accumulate a respectable (or, perhaps in this case, disreputable) amount of the stuff, all tucked away in a special trunk, between tea towels and kitchen goods and all the other things I felt I would need in the future to set up my own home.
Fast forward a few years, and Wexford once again fell out of favor. I was married with little kids, and one of the things we liked to do on weekends when the weather was nice was go to the local Flea Market to browse around and see what cool things we could find. One day, while looking through their 25-cent bin, I found a treasure trove – a bunch of Wexford sherbets and goblets! For twenty-five cents each! I kind of went nuts that day, bringing home about 20 more pieces for my collection (as you can see, my tastes hadn’t improved much at that point) and then every time we went for the next half dozen years or so, I’d manage to scrounge another couple or dozen pieces of the stuff out of that bargain bin.
Fast forward another dozen years or more, and I had pretty much stopped collecting Wexford, as I had quite a nice set of the stuff by then, but then when we moved to our current home in Idaho, I began to wish I had more of the apothecary jars. They actually looked pretty nice in the cabinets here, holding our teas and coffees and other things. So I picked up a few more on eBay as I had a bit of spare change and as I found them available for reasonable prices. We still used the dishes for holidays and such, mainly because they were “fancy” and the kids really got a kick out of them. And, being that they weren’t really all that expensive to replace, I figured that if any were broken it wasn’t a tragedy. At some point we bought a used, real wood dining set, and it came with a very, very large china hutch. We’re talking over 6 feet across and about that tall. My Wexford collection just barely fit into it – and only if you didn’t try to put the apothecary jar collection in there with all of the other pieces. In fact, the Wexford was pretty much all we were able to fit into it, and this is how the Wexford Shrine was born.
So that’s the long story of why I’m going to spend the next few days individually wrapping and packing probably 200+ pieces of Wexford. I thought about just selling it or leaving it here, but with all the family holiday meals served with it, and all the memories of my kids wanting to use the “fancy dishes” for their treats “just for special” – it’s hard to let go of the memories. It’s also my only really fancy set of dishes, so although I now look at it more or less as a bunch of “Redneck Crystal” – I think it’s worth the effort to bring it with us to our new home. Hopefully we’ll have more family get-togethers there and it’ll get taken out of the cabinet even more often than before. And since we’re not planning to move again, hopefully this is the last time I have to trek the stuff to a new house.