We figure we have a month – maybe a little more – before the bulldozers move in to demolish the existing beyond-renovation ruins on our Abruzzo property and work starts in earnest on building our new home and our special holiday villas for two. We’ve salvaged all the old roof and ceiling tiles we could reach – 1013 of them ! – without risking serious injury, or worse, by clambering over desperately unstable walls and beams to get more, so having done what we can for the moment outside, it seemed a good time to see what lay inside our two long-abandoned houses.

A Rummage in the Ruins
Hardly the entrance to Aladdin's cave... You live in hope, fuelled by all those reports you’ve ever read about a van Gogh in the attic; a box of antique silver in the drawer of an old table; an old table that’s actually a Chippendale. The reality’s always different. Not the most promising start...The good stuff – if there ever was any – is long-gone and all that’s left is filth-encrusted junk.

This door leads to one of the few upstairs rooms that not only still has a floor, but also a floor that you can walk on – carefully – without plunging through it.

The initial glance round wasn’t that promising. Lots of firewood (but strangely, no fireplace…) – but what’s that pile of stuff stacked up against the wall ?

Meissen ? Coalport ? Not quite...Just a pile of old broken plates. But on closer inspection, under the grime, here was something quite interesting. White china with gold decoration. 

But in terrible condition....afterBefore... Our two ruins are soon to become your holiday villas for two – but right now they’ve been abandoned for at least thirty years, (maybe longer – nobody’s quite sure), and the china was encased in a thick layer of dirt.

But it’s astonishing what you can uncover with only warm water, a little washing-up liquid – and some limescale remover !

The Treasure Revealed
And as more mud got washed away, we found three different patterns, spread over 23 assorted plates and bowls. Which do you prefer - slightly ornate ?Or plain ?There’s the odd little chip around a rim here and there and a little of the original gold decoration’s been worn away in places, but essentially, the condition’s perfect. The mystery tableware

And being of a curious disposition, the next step of course was to flip the plates over and see if we could find a maker’s name. And here the plot thickens…

Where Did They Come From ?

The china is clearly the remnants of three different sets, but to our untrained eyes, they looked pretty similar. The first mark we discovered on the left-hand plate above carries:

  • a dragon trademark
  • a pattern number – V-59
  • and the stamp ‘Extra Strong England Type’. (England type ?). And the maker is...?How about this one ?

The other two patterns are a little easier.

  • They both carry the name ‘SC Richard’
  • a couple of pattern numbers – 52 and 210
  • a lion and shield trademark
  • the stamp ‘Made in Italy’
  • and the name ‘Lambrate’

My first thought was that ‘Lambrate’ was perhaps the name of the range – but a little research showed that ‘Lambrate’ is also a suburb of Milan. And a little more research revealed that yes – this is (or was) the home of the ‘Lambrate’ porcelain factory. So we know who made our plates and bowls; and we know where – but frustratingly, we don’t know when.  

Intriguingly though, there are a handful of ‘SC Richard’ and ‘Lambrate’ tableware pieces for sale on both Italian and US eBay – but for no huge sums; with no indication of whether either company is still in production; and no clue – except for a very general and very hesitant ‘early/mid-20th century’ – when our Italian treasure discovery might have been produced. As for ‘Extra Strong England Type’ – sorry, haven’t a clue. 

If you’ve any theories – we’d love to hear them !