Between Art and Kitsch

The Dutch have an ambivalent attitude to their own traditional blue and white Delftware. I rarely see it in Dutch homes, only in museums or tourists shops. The blue and white pottery leaves me a bit cold, but the tiles on the other hand I do really love. So much so that I was lucky enough to pick up a table top of Delftware tiles, 50 in total for quite a low price. Now, I am not known for my canny way with money, in fact, according to husband I have got ‘a hole in my hand.’ Not a medical condition, just a Dunglish expression roughly equivalent to the English proverb ‘money burns a hole in his/her pockets.’

Anyway, this time, I think I have come up trumps. I believe these tiles are around mid-eighteenth century, in decent condition and highly decorative. They show mainly trades and occupations, a rosy image of Holland with every citizen happily getting on with their work and occasionally having time for a drink, a smoke or flirting with the dairy maid.

The term, Delftware is derived from the Dutch town of Delft where from the seventeenth century potteries produced hand-painted tin-glazed pottery of high quality which was exported all over the world. Alongside their other wares, the potteries in Delft produced tiles but these were not a major product. Most Dutch tiles were manufactured in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Gouda. In northern towns such as Harlingen and Makkum tiles were often the main line of business.

Delftware tiles are eagerly collected. Their hand-painted illustrations provide a unique insight into life in Holland at the time. I saw a few for sale on an antique dealer’s stall at the Noordermarkt last weekend. They weren’t as old, or as decorative as mine and I was told they retail at between 40 and 50 euros apiece! So pretty soon you will see me on the Dutch Antiques Roadshow, Tussen Kunst en Kitsch and I’ll say ‘oh, I think they’re worth about 200 euros all together’ and the expert will say, ‘add a nought to that!’ Clutching my heart, I will be dumbstruck with shock and head straight for the nearest gin and tonic to quieten my nerves. Or failing that I will keep them and enjoy them for as long as I can.



About susancarey

Writer and teacher living in Amsterdam. Trying to be mindful and occasionally succeeding!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Between Art and Kitsch

  1. christinehayes46 says:

    Or you could take it to the Antiques Road Show and flummox ’em!


  2. susancarey says:

    I could, but it’s pretty heavy! Who knows, it may be worth more in England because of relative rarity there!


  3. Sally Robinson says:

    Nice! Yes, I don’t much like the Delft Blue pottery either, but I do like the tiles. In fact, I’ve used it as my Winner Wedding Gift for all those outside Holland! Now I see them dotted around homes I visit.
    Hope you make your million on Kunst en Kitsch!


  4. Sherri says:

    These are gorgeous Susan, you got a great buy there 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s