Thursday, February 23, 2012

Treasure Hunt: Vintage Arabia of Finland Dinner Plates

Vintage 1960's Arabia of Finland dinner plates with black and white floral design.
Treasure Hunt: A pair of vintage
Arabia of Finland dinner plates
A huge part of the fun and excitement, for me, of strolling through antique stores and charity shops is the idea, the hope, and once in a juicy while, the reality of stumbling across an item priced at a steal that you know is worth a lot more...especially when other people obviously don't.  Case in point:  these two Arabia of Finland vintage dinner plates.

As the daughter of a native Finn, I grew up around various Finnish brands, all well known in Finland but some more obscure elsewhere than others.  Iittala, Hackman, Marimekko, Aarikka, Fiskars and Arabia were both the wares of the everyman and also the fine glass, kitchenware, cloth and clothing, jewelry, scissors and cutlery, and dishware (respectively) that you collected and coveted.  Not to mention Nokia.  I had Nokia rubber boots as a child - yes, that started off as a rubber factory.  But I digress...

To me those brands are second nature and I know their collectable value, but to many people in old Blighty, Arabia plates are no more special than the ones you get at Sainsbury's or Target.

And because of that, I nabbed a bargain!

These two vintage Arabia plates were at the local charity shop for £0.99 each!  That's right, folks.  £1.98 for the two, the equivalent of about $3.50!!

So what?

Well, most Arabia plates, even modern ones in the junk shops in Finland, rarely get sold for less than few euros each.  If you look on eBay, most vintage ones sell at least in the £10-£20 range for a single plate.  Obviously they go for more depending on the pattern and the style.  Arabia made both basic, work horse plates for daily use and fine china, so the prices will significantly vary. 

Arabia of Finland maker's mark from 1964 to 1971
Arabia of Finland maker's mark - used from 1964-1971
While I have not been able to identify the pattern specifically, there have been various factory maker's marks Arabia has used over its 139 years and the one stamped on the back of these plates dates from 1964 to 1971.  The style and shape of the plates appears to coincide with that date as well.  There is a rice grain-sized firing mark in one of the plates - a small flaw on the plate that occurred in the kiln during the firing process.  You know it's a firing mark because it's under the original glaze, not a flaw that happened afterwards.  But otherwise both plates are in very good condition.

In recent years, some of the main Finnish brands, including Fiskars, Hackman, Iittala and Arabia, have joined forces and become part of the Fiskars Group conglomerate.  The lines that used to define the brands have somewhat blurred - you'll now find Iittala cutlery as well as glass and Arabia glassware as well as dishes, but the group's quality is maintained.  For someone who's into modern, Scandinavian design, all of these brands are worth a second look.

And definitely worth my £2!

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