Thursday, January 07, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Avon 1876 Cape Cod Collection Pieces

I don't often participate in Treasure Chest Thursday for a couple of reasons: I am hesitant to have my valuables publicly displayed on the Internet, and I'm very aware that "announcing" some of the family heirlooms that have been passed down to me could possibly cause hurt feelings among family members who may feel that they were overlooked in the provenance process.  However, I couldn't pass up highlighting this very special gift my parents gave to me this Christmas.

These are an Avon 1876 Cape Cod Collection candy bowl and candlesticks. They belonged to my maternal grandmother, Ruth Lillian (HOEKSTRA) VALK DeVries. They are special for two reasons: they are another something special by which to remember my grandmother, and they are from one of my favorite Avon collections.

As a girl, it seemed we always had Avon products and collectables around. After I left home for college, my mother began to sell Avon products to bring in some extra household income and did quite well, receiving the Avon Mrs. Albee Sales Award (honoring outstanding sales achievements of Avon President's Club Members) for several years. The Avon 1876 Cape Cod Glass Dinnerware Collection is one of the most prized and sought-after collections even today, especially since they are no longer sold new. According to Bud Hastin's Avon Collector's Encyclopedia,pieces of this collection were sold from 1979 to 1992. They can be found on auction websites such as Ebay and pieces to replace missing and broken items can sometimes be found at It is such a popular collection that there is even a book about it, which I found at Amazon: Avon's 1876 Cape Cod Collection: Glass Dinnerware (Schiffer Book for Collectors)by Debbie and Randy Coe (2003). For diehard Avon collectors, there's even a site featuring just Avon collectibles:!

I already had one piece of the Cape Cod collection that somehow came into my possession, a wine goblet that I probably found at a yard sale or thrift store and have been displaying in my shadow box in my dining room, so it was nice to start a collection (two or more of anything defining a collection!). I used the candy bowl and candlesticks on my Christmas dinner table. The candles that came with the sticks were rather drippy (had I known about that, I would have frozen them first so they wouldn't drip), so I washed the candlesticks carefully after dinner. It was then I discovered that the candlesticks were also perfume decanters, at one time filled with Avon's famous-but-discontinued Bird of Paradise scent. Inhaling the fragrance, I was reminded once again of my grandmother, and tears came to my eyes.  I was careful not to rinse out the interior of the bottles, but just wash off the wax on the exterior. To me, this was yet another special gift: that whenever I am thinking of my grandmother, I can not only look at the things in my home that were once hers, but I can open up a decanter and remember the fragrance that lingered on her when I last saw and embraced her.

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