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Double Dutch

Updated: Feb 16

“Double Dutch” is a jump-rope game said to have originated with Dutch immigrants in New York City where a pair of jump ropes are turned in opposite directions while players jump them simultaneously.

The illustrated cup and saucer have something in common with this. They are Dutch and have a pair of designs simultaneously identifying their original owners.

Many Chinese export porcelain services for the Dutch market bear pseudo-armorials such as these. Pseudo-armorials were adopted by non-noble individuals who had acquired stature through military or maritime service or through commerce.

Here the sinister oval bears an image of a sailing vessel flying the Dutch flag. This would indicate the owner achieved maritime success.

The dexter oval contains the cypher “AB” beneath a gilt crown. Unlike the heraldic practices of other countries, the Dutch did not limit the use of a crown to the nobility, and many services made for wealthy or notable non-noble families include a crown in their designs as this one does.

In the instant case, the monogram has been identified to Alida den Breem, who married a Dutch East India Company Captain, Willem Koelbier. Koelbier was master of the East Indiaman “Kanaan” and travelled to China in 1776 - 1777. The couple married in 1779, but it is possible Koelbeir acquired the service in anticipation of their wedding.

Of note is that the design of both the monogram oval with its crown and the ship oval are “stock” designs, appearing together on at least one other service and separately on a number of services.

This particular service is illustrated and discussed in Kroes, “Chinese Armorial Porcelain for the Dutch Market”, at pp. 468-469. This work is comparable to David Howard’s volumes of “Chinese Armorial Porcelain” and provides an in-depth explanation of the topic.

R.J. Ruble

Ericsson Street Antiques

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