When my father died in February this year I began to read his memoirs; they are written in an old lined book, stories of his childhood, National Service and university days. I read about his two visits to Copenhagen which he took in the late 1950s as part of his study of architecture at Cambridge. I wished I could have spoken to Dad about his trip but thought the next best thing was to follow in his footsteps and take a trip there with the family.
We had a fabulous holiday in Copenhagen at Easter, thanks to some great advice from Emma at A Scandinavian Sojourn who sent me a detailed email with ideas for canal trips, restaurants and the sights worth seeing.
On our return my mum was talking to Dad’s sister who said that in the 1950s Dad had brought a piece of pottery back from Copenhagen as a gift for his mother. When their mother died in the 1970s, my aunt kept the dish but now she knew of my interest, she was more than happy for me to have it as a memory of my father.
A few weeks ago the black, shallow dish, 30 cm in diameter, was given to me. It was quite water-marked as it had been used as a plant stand but I managed to clean it up. Maybe I’m biased, but I think it’s a beautiful simple piece, typical of the clean lines and unfussy Scandinavian design that my dad loved so much.
The mystery of who made the dish still remained. To try and establish its provenance I enlisted my blogging friend, Emma, to be my detective in Copenhagen. I sent her these photos, showing the distinctive lettering on the base, and asked if she could help.
Yesterday I received an email from Emma: her husband had managed to track down the make. He had received confirmation from Danish ceramic experts that the distinctive mark was that of Herman August Kahler.
The Kahler ceramic company began in 1839 with his father, Herman J Kahler in Nestved, Denmark. The son, Herman August (1846 -1917) introduced the HAK signature which continued to be used until the factory closed in 1974. Herman was famous for his glazed ceramics but as yet I don’t know whether this piece was one of his or, more likely, a later piece made in the 1950s at the time my dad was in Denmark.
I am now trying to find out a little bit more about the dish, armed with this fantastic news from Emma and her husband. However, no matter what I discover, this piece of pottery will always be treasured. My father, a young man in his early twenties, chose it, wrapped it and carried it carefully home to his mother over fifty years ago. It’s my turn to look after it now.
The theme for this week’s Gallery is ‘Vintage’.