Spill vase, campana vase
A lovely garniture of five small vases that I came about recently inspired me to write about the many types of vases that people had in the 19th Century. In the Industrial Revolution of the early 19th Century a middle class emerged of people who had disposable income. Being "house proud" became a real thing, and suddenly interior design took flight.
While before the 19th Century interior design only existed for the super wealthy elite, suddenly many ordinary people started to pay attention to their living quarters - because they could. Before, you would buy what you need and it would have to last a lifetime, and most people didn't have the money to pay much attention to it. How much you owned was a matter of social class, and people did not move between social classes. But the Industrial Revolution changed all that, making it possible for people to work their way up and start spending on beautiful things.
And that's where the many types of vases come in.
One type that suddenly every self-respecting household needed was the spill vase. These are small narrow vases, often coming as a pair or part of larger garniture (which is a fancy word for a group of vases). They were used for match sticks - but not the match sticks we know. In those days, a match was a thin piece of wood that was used to kindle the fire in the morning, or to light a candle in the evening. Can you imagine getting up early in the morning before anyone has lit the fires in all the chimneys of the house? It would be freezing cold in the winter and you would want to be able to light a fire quickly, so on the chimney piece you would have a "spill vase" with some match sticks. Spill vases often came with a set of tapersticks for the little candles that would guide someone up the dark stairs on their way to bed; the matches could also be used to safely light these candles.
Another vase that you often find is a campana vase. This is the nice elegant one in the shape of an up-side-down bell. The name of this vase is related to the shape... in a roundabout way. In medieval times, nobody had a clock or a watch. When working in the fields, people would listen out for the church bells to tell them when it was time to eat, pray or stop working. That connected the word for bell with "campana", which means "field". This classic shape of vase, already used by the Etruscans, Greeks and Romans, then was called campana, and in the early 19th Century it was the most popular shape for small flower bouquets.
The beautiful garniture here is a bit of a mystery - we don't know who made it. It is made of fine, very white bone china and charmingly painted with fruits and, interestingly, another vase in the background. A ring of porcelain "pearls" gives an extra touch, and the campana vase has nice gilded handles. None of these are large, the smallest spill vase being quite tiny - which makes them perfect for a small home.
This set is for sale in my shop, it is in perfect condition except one of the spill vases, which has some tight cracks in the bottom, but it is still beautiful on display and may actually still hold water.
Where to find stock
You can find all my decorative pieces here, and all my available stock is here. If you want to stay up to date with new additions, find me on Instagram, where I put up pictures with a story several times a week.
Enjoy your weekend, and put some flowers (or matches) on your table! 🌷🏺🌹
This week's available spill and campana vases: