The Spotlight exhibition, with pieces loaned from the Ohio History Connection, will be on display in the double parlors of the Reese-Peters House through July.
What are the highlights of the new Spotlight exhibition at DACO that you have curated? For the next six months, the Spotlight exhibition will feature 1940s tea-service items, coffee pots and tea cups as well--all made by Hall China Company.
What’s so special about Hall China? It is an Ohio company that started in East Liverpool in 1903 and is still in operation today. Its founder developed a single-fire process. Usually with ceramics, you fire every time after you paint or glaze. With this process, it would harden the clay and it saves time and makes the piece much stronger and less porous so it lasts longer.
The company started with 3 brick kilns and 38 potters. Now, the factory covers 6 acres and employs 125 people. It’s huge. Because of the durability of their china, they produce a lot of lines of dinnerware for restaurants.
So what about their teapots, as this is the exhibition’s focus? Their teapots are phenomenal. The designs changed as design trends changed. The teapots from the 1940s really reflect modern design.
The idea for displaying teapots stemmed from our desire to support the Decorative Art Center of Ohio’s initiative to highlight the history of the house. Afternoon tea was very important, not just as a meal, but also as a social event. This is really a way to highlight a tremendously important event during the time the families lived there.
Why was afternoon tea such a big deal? Afternoon tea has a fascinating history. It started in England around the mid-19th century by a member of the royal family who found herself getting dizzy spells around 5 p.m. It was customary to have a light lunch and then a large meal at 8 or 9 p.m., so it started as a way for the ladies to sustain themselves in the afternoon until dinner.
Teas could be informal, but also became a way for women to get together and socialize and gossip. Families like the Reeses and Peters would have wanted to go to teas to see and be seen at this social event.
After World War II, the popularity of teas declined because there were more women in the workplace. With more families working, the dinner hour started earlier and there was no need for that afternoon snack.
What can visitors to DACO expect when they view the Spotlight? There will be 22 items total; 21 of them are teapots, coffee pots, cups and saucers一items that were part of a tea service. We will also include a hostess dress from the 1930s or 40s. The idea is that the woman who would have hosted the tea would have dressed up because it was an event.
The dress we chose belongs to Mary White, daughter of former Ohio Governor George White. Mary acted as the host, because her father was a widower. The dress was from Montaldo's, a high-end ladies apparel shop in big cities, including Columbus.