I went flea marketing recently and I told myself: “Don’t buy anything, you have too much
stuff already. But, if you do buy, make it something very tiny.” I followed my advice and I only bought two, three and half inch tall, blue delft figurines of a dutch boy and girl. Anything representing our dutch heritage catches my eye including blue delft porcelain. I think what I bought are porcelain and making them even more interesting is the fact that they are stamped “Japan” on the bottom.
When I was a child, many things we bought were marked “Japan” and during the years 1947-1952 when the U.S. occupied that country the stamping read: “Occupied Japan.” Today, most things say, “made in China.” I knew these figurines were not very new, and maybe even considered antiques. Don’t they say, if it’s over 50 years old, it’s an antique? From the accompanying photo of my purchase, you’ll see why I like this couple. He with his traditional baggy pants and she with her dutch hat.
I know many women love blue delft and some may have extensive collections of this ware. It is found in many Dutch households and is enormously popular with tourists. Of course, true Delftware comes only from the city of Delft and has been an important export product from the Netherlands for 400 years.
My husband and I were fortunate to visit Holland while searching, rather quickly, for records showing the Updyke name. It was interesting to find my maiden name, Britt,
mentioned more frequently than his. Burl’s relatives were among the early Dutch settlers in America. Louris Jansen opDyck, from Elburg, Holland, sailed here in 1659. I was interested to read that among the Dutch there are not aggressively mean spirited stereotypes. The Dutch-Americans value property, are inclined toward small business ventures, and are loyal people. The description fits my husband well, and myself, as a matter of fact. They all fit my husband except for one description, “generally humorless.” He has a wonderful sense of humor. I read that the Dutch people are the tallest in the world, with the men standing six foot, one and the women, five foot, six. That fits us, too.
I wonder if it was an early settler who said, “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much!” The Dutch are exceptional in many ways. As a recent example, those spectacular roses of many colors are not sprayed, they are produced from natural plant extracts that are absorbed by the flowers as they grow. They are bred to produce different colored petals and it was a Dutchman, Peter van de Werken who developed them at his Dutch flower company.
Getting back to my original subject on ShirlandYou. If I had known what I know now about Delftware being Netherlands’ important ceramic
production, I would have looked for and purchased a delftware figurine of the fictional dike-plugging boy. I’m sure you all remember the story. One lovely autumn afternoon an eight year old boy was walking along the countryside when he was startled by the sound of trickling water. He looked up and saw a small hole in the dike through which a tiny stream was flowing. Any child in Holland will shudder at the thought of a leak in the dike. That little hole, if the water were allowed to trickle through, would soon be a large one, and a terrible inundation would be the result. You know the rest of the story, although evening was drawing near, he remained there with his tiny finger stopping the flow. A cold, dreary night settled in and no one passed by. He knew if he drew away his tiny finger, the angry waters would rush forth and never stop until they had swept over the town. This is the legend of the brave Dutch boy who put his finger in the dike to prevent a flood. Nearly everyone knows this story and although it is not a true one, it symbolizes the perpetual struggle of Holland against the water. Children reading it become aware of sacrifices that may become necessary in their life time.
What I remember most about Holland is water being everywhere, so much so that I felt
unsafe. In Amsterdam, we visited a museum that documented the struggles, the loss of life, the horrendous flooding the Dutch people dealt with to save their country and how important the canals and dyke systems are in keeping it from being swept away, even today. The Dutch came because the future here promised more prosperity for them and their children in America than in Holland. I for one am glad they did.
Those tiny figurines I bought at the flea market represent history both here and in another country and that’s where their value lies. Hope you enjoyed Shirl and You. I’d love to hear from you.