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Collecting: Douglas Ferguson & Pigeon Forge Pottery



One of the best parts of collecting vintage collectibles and antiques is discovering a new great find. My general rule of thumb is to buy what I love or at least like a lot. While I’ve had my fair share of losers, I tend to bring home better picks these days, or so I’ve been told by my partner. For seasoned collectors and novice beginners my advice is the same, pick what is aesthetically pleasing to you. From early primitives to high-end English and French furniture, there is something for everyone, and that is the fun of the hunt. I personally love to frequent the local antique malls, garage sales, thrift shops and an occasional auction. I lean toward the American collectibles from primitives to pottery and being in the Mid-Atlantic state of Maryland there are some pretty good pickings. On my last outing looking for spring inventory for our shop The Antique Garden, I visited a nearby Pennsylvania antiques mall.  036 I came across this unique piece of pottery by Douglas Ferguson. Pottery can be difficult to identify because there are often so many abstract markings on the bottom. I liked this pottery bowl the moment I saw it and although I almost put it down, it weighed almost 6 pounds, I put it on the sales counter and brought it home. I liked the unique  “crater” glaze, large 12” diameter and 3 ½” depth and thought it might be perfect to hold some of my plants. Plus it was signed with a distinct signature that I could read easily, Douglas Ferguson. 041As so often is the way, I googled the name when I got home and was pleasantly surprised that it was indeed crafted by a notable artist from North Carolina and later the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. In fact this signed piece was created in the mid-century and had all the markings of a modern era collectible. 046Ferguson created The Pigeon Forge Pottery Company in the 1940’s that existed until his death in the late 1990’s. I remember that beautiful area of east Tennessee when I took my family on an outing to the Smokey Mountains a few years back. 015It’s great to learn about new artists, their history, and save a vintage find for future generations.   This piece is being offered for auction on eBay  this week, if you are interested.   What do you collect, we’d love to know?! Happy picking, Jenn  from The Antique Garden

To learn more about Pigeon Forge Pottery and founder Douglas Ferguson be sure to visit this link


Pennsylvania Dutch Pickled Beets and Eggs

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To anyone who has never heard of this dish it sounds so weird.  To those who know about beets and eggs,  it is a sentimental favorite.  I discovered this dish about five years ago after moving to Western Maryland.  We live only 5 miles to the Penn border, so it is natural that people around here enjoy this fine cuisine better known as Pennsylvania Dutch cooking.  Always hearty with a sense of the farms that originated these dishes be it Amish or Mennonite, they are delicious.

I used my own beets that we put up in canning jars last fall, but you can easily use fresh, that have been cooked, canned or bottled supermarket beets.  First you make a pickling recipe then add hardboiled eggs.  The eggs take on the bright red color of the beets and become pickled themselves.  They are delicious plain or sliced up and served in a salad.  I’ve adapted the Ball Jar recipe to my own. We will be serving them as an appetizer for Easter as a nice alternative to deviled eggs. Quantities can easily be changed without much difficulty.

 3 cans of whole beets-save the juices

1 cup of sugar

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon whole allspice-can omit

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups white vinegar


Put all ingredients into large saucepan, except beets, and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Turn off heat.  Add beets and their juices and blend.  Put beet mixture into a large bowl or plastic container with a lid and chill several hours. 

Add about 6 peeled hardboiled eggs to the beets and stir so all sides of the eggs get color.  Chill overnight.  I like to store them in a large glass jar as they look so attractive.  Hardboiled eggs are perishable so eat them within a week and store in the refrigerator. They don’t last long in our house.

Highway for Antiques in Carlisle Pennsylvania

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 I have always just driven by the exit for Carlisle on trips to and from New York, but recently have discovered wonderful antique stores and malls in this region.  I love to hunt for antiques, collectibles and curiosities for our store and online. While I have done some shopping as far south as Atlanta to the famous Scott’s Flea Market, I find, I can source goods pretty close to home. I am lucky to be located on the East coast because let’s face it, this is where it all began.  Even George Washington himself visited Carlisle and it was near enough to Gettysburg to see action during the civil War. My recent trip included a stop at Northgate Antiques.

Here is a website with more information about historic Carlisle  An excerpt from the site:  Carlisle is hidden among the beautiful rolling hills of Cumberland County, and  the old buildings and architecture invite you to slow down and savor the past in a relaxed rural setting. Founded in 1751, this patchwork quilt of pastures, farmhouses, bed-and-breakfast homes and small towns display historical charm and the region’s natural beauty in every season.  It was home to the nation’s school for native Americans, of which Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe is an alumnus. Historians and military buffs alike will enjoy exploring this area, first occupied and then shelled by the Confederates; both Civil War and Victoria Era memories abound.

If you like taking home a bit of the past, Carlisle is your treasure chest. From indoor antique shops to outdoor antique flea markets, you’ll enjoy discovering the perfect souvenir finds to enhance your life back home. Other types of collectors will find excitement in Carlisle as well, as some of the largest collector car shows in the world take place year-round on the 82-acre Carlisle Fairgrounds.

For South Central Pennsylvania’s natural beauty, there’s no place like Carlisle and its surroundings. Fishing fanatics will rise to the angling challenge afforded by Cumberland County’s plethora of world-famous creeks and streams. Hikers will find happiness on a stretch of the Appalachian Trail. Campers and day trippers won’t want to miss the 969-acre Pine Grove Furnace State Park, with beach swimming, boat launching areas and more than 70 campsites. ****We love to stop here and take a dip in the summertime in the lake.  FREE admission and new bath houses make this stop a big plus.

It is truly a beautiful area and not far from Hershey or Harrisburg.  For me it is about a 45 minute drive and in the same valley as Hagerstown.  In fact the man behind the counter at Northgate Antiques corrected me that I was NOT from out-of-town.  People travel from near and far  to check out this large antique store with two levels.  It is open 7 days a week and is located on route 11 also known as Hanover Street.  I spent several hours pouring through the booths and found some excellent buys.  Most venders had at least a 20% sale going and the staff was polite and helpful.  They asked if they could take my heavy finds to the counter for me which I always appreciate.

Here is a partial list of my new goodies, some which I’ve already listed for sale on eBay: old Wilton Armetale  pewter coffee pot, metal flower frog for flower arrangements, old rusty egg basket, hat box with vintage hat, stainless steel teapot by Cuisinart, Swedish Orrefors crystal bowl, marked as glass, very old advertising 19th c. biscuit wooden box,  and vintage cookbooks. I actually love to go on these trips, it also helps when you score some “good stuff”.  I wish I could go more than once a week, but alas my day job of teaching school gets in the way.  Let’s see school gets out in a few more months so then maybe I could go shopping more often….. There are other antique shops and malls in this area so be sure to check them out next time you travel I-81 and get off the highway.

Northgate Antiques

726 N. Hanover St.

Carlisle, PA  17013


Crazy-Quilt Cookery Explored

Written in 1944, this is a great little cookbook!

Written in 1944, this is a great little cookbook!

While Spring is taking her sweet time arriving here, it gives me the excuse on a lazy Sunday to pull out my cookbooks, light the fire and bake.  We rarely eat dessert but have been craving something sweet.  

I picked up a great vintage cookbook recently in a used book store with the intent of reselling the edition.  Instead, I’ve fallen in love with this 1944 book written by Bunny Day.  Entitled Crazy-Quilt Cookery it is 156 pages of classic Pennsylvania and Maryland dishes that Grandma use to make.  Ok, not my Grandma, but Bunny’s.  Charmingly illustrated by artist Margot Tomes, chapter one is Christmas.  Then comes the chapter on Heirlooms covering Pennsylvania, Maryland dishes and “Putting Up”(canning).  A Section of Penny Pinchers, Sundays, including Breakfast, Brunch, and Supper, Fish Cookery, Salads and Dressings, Company-casseroles and other “convivial concoctions”. 

Today I am going to try my hand at her recipe for oatmeal cookies.  Classics like Maryland Crab Soup, Pennsylvania Dutch Red Cabbage, Fried Chicken and Bread and Butter Pickles are also on my list to try.  I have used her basic Peach conserve recipe and adapted it with excellent results.  Just search in my tag cloud under peaches and it should come up.  This tiny little  book is out of print but there are used editions available.  Just go to my amazon store link to find this book because this one is a keeper!

A Day at White Tail Ski Resort

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Just back from a day on the slopes at White Tail Ski Resort with my youngest son John.  With a new 6″ of fresh powder, conditions were excellent, with plenty of sunshine and temps in the 30’s. Only minutes from Hagerstown, Maryland this is an ideal family trip, for skiers of any skill level.  Will write complete blog on Friday of this fun snow day with my son,  the snow boarder.  Check out this link to White Tail