We got some rare items this time.
(Photo: 20 cm plate of ARABIA crocuses)
It is a plate of the phantom masterpiece Crocus series of Finland's leading tableware manufacturer ARABIA. It's called gray rim. Crocus is a series that was produced only for a very short period of 2 years from 1978 to 1979, but for some reason this gray rim was almost never produced, making it a phantom work. It is one of the so-called collector's items.
ARABIA masterpiece Crocus
The series name crocus is a kind of iris flower. Iris flowers are originally whitish purple flowers. The crocus series is characterized by the fact that the flowers are drawn only with lines. As is often the case with Scandinavian tableware, it is completed by faithfully coloring the original flower color. I would like to say, but there is a charm in the fact that it is daringly completed in black and white. For more information, please see the past blog post → "Nordic Tableware and Shadow Praise"
Crocus was designed in three versions: black and white, color, and gray rim. Of these, the color version only paints the edges in light green and does not have a picture of crocuses. Therefore, there are two types of variations with patterns: black and white version and gray rim version.
Rim is an English word that means "wheel" or "rim". Gray is dull, that is, gray. It's made in Finland, so I think it's okay if it's written in Finnish, but the black and white version is also engraved with the initials "BW" (Black and White). In other words, you can see that it was made with overseas export in mind.
(Photo: Crocus Gray Rim backstamp, "GR" under Krokus stands for "Grey Rim", and below that is "Dishwasher safe" in English)
Unique gray rim design
A little-known fact is that Crocus Gray Rim has actually rewritten some of the designs, such as the soup plate.
(Photo: Gray rim on the left, crocus soup plate on the right in black and white. The flowers and buds are slightly different.)
It's the same crocus pattern, but if you look closely, the design is different. The number of flowers and buds is the same, but the shape of the petals and the way the buds swell and the position are slightly different.
However, the gray rim 20cm plate has exactly the same design as the black and white 20cm plate. Also, with other size plates, only the way the buds are drawn may be different. It seems that not all tableware series, including cups and teacups, have been redesigned.
As mentioned above, Crocus was produced for two years from 1978 to 1979, but Gray Rim was probably produced only for a period of 1979. I don't know what the production intention was, but it seems that it was created as a result of trying to make color variations.
However, the production of Crocus itself ended in a short period of time, and as a result, Gray Rim became a phantom work that was almost never produced.
Changes in ARABIA's factory system and discontinuation of production
The production period for Crocus was only two years, but I get the impression that black-and-white and color versions are still widely distributed in the vintage market. If it's a truly phantom work, I think it's rare for it to enter Japan in the first place.
From here, I guess it's a guess, but I think Crocus was a hit at the beginning of its release and increased production. Therefore, a large number of plates and cups were produced, and it is believed that a certain number remain today.
However, in 1979, a big change occurred in the production line of ARABIA. Until then, the workshop style , in which clay was shaped by craftsmen's hands, was replaced by an automatic molding line using machines, and the factory format shifted to a larger-scale, standardized mass production style. The first mechanized work is a series called Arctica, which is a hard, thick and hard-to-break tableware called Vitro porcelain (stoneware). Arktika is still in production.
In 1979, it seems that many craftsmen who had been working until then were laid off or stopped hiring. This year marks the end of the age of handicrafts from ARABIA, which had done most of the processes by hand until then, and turned to mechanization to stably produce more uniform, uniform products with fewer breakdowns. It was time.
Why did ARABIA crocuses become a phantom work?
Crocus is a sophisticated style of tableware that is different from the common sense of Scandinavian tableware so far. Nordic vintage tableware made in the middle of the 20th century, which is called mid-century, was based on a style in which the decoration was modern and beautiful, but the tableware itself was thick and heavy. Scandinavian tableware is also beautiful as an interior, but basically it is used for everyday use at the Scandinavian dining table. Therefore, strong vessels were preferred over delicate vessels. Furthermore, considering the ceramics manufacturing technology of the time, it seems that there was still room for progress in material research and kiln temperature control in order to make thin products.
On the other hand, crocus is thin and light as a tableware, and has excellent design. At first glance, it seems like a good thing, but at that time, the Crocus series was a series that had a lot of breakdowns with ARABIA's pottery technology.
Even if you look at the vintage items currently in circulation, there are many Arabian Nordic vintage tableware that have a large number of crocuses that are by far the most intrusive.
Kannyu is a crack that runs on the glaze surface during firing during the manufacturing process and is a scratch during use.
(Photo: Penetration seen on the rim)
(Pictured: Spider-web-like intrusions. Crocuses have quite a few intrusions of this type.)
As is the case with Scandinavian vintage tableware, it is shipped as it is because it is not repelled by inspection even if it has been penetrated. This applies not only to ARABIA, but also to tableware from famous Nordic brands such as Gustavsberg and Rorstrand. In a sense, this may reflect the Nordic spirit of “mottainai” .
Cracks are cracks in the glaze surface that occur unintentionally, so it is normal for the shape to run like a lightning bolt in one place. Crocus intrusions, however, are clearly patterned, often appearing to be cobweb-like or with continuous vertical streaks along the edges.
In light of this, it must be said that the crocus infestation occurred due to manufacturing problems. It is thought that this was a reaction to the unreasonably thin structure, and that the craftsmen were not skilled enough to make them. There must have been design and technical factors that made defective products more likely to occur.
The reason why production was discontinued in 1979 is that there were many defective products in the crocuses themselves, and it was time to switch to new products such as Arctica by revamping the production line.
Scandinavian vintage tableware for Japanese people
I mentioned that the gray rim GR and black and white version BW are written in English, but if ARABIA were thinking of jumping over Finland and Scandinavian countries and further promoting sales in overseas markets, it would be natural to intrude. The Nordic idea of , does not work in other countries.
In fact, in Japan, the price of Nordic vintage tableware is reduced. It's strange if you think about it because the price is the same locally. However, it clearly shows that different countries have different evaluation points. Ultimately, if you look at the world, there is nothing like failure.
In summary, ARABIA crocus became a phantom tableware because the production system changed due to the mechanization of factories, and the technology of ARABIA at the time did not allow stable mass production of crocuses. It is also behind the fact that if we are to export overseas, we need even more consistent quality.
Crocus gray rims were produced with the intention of creating various variations and increasing consumer choices, but as a result the production of crocuses themselves was discontinued, almost none of them are produced to this day. .
In terms of design, the only difference is that the edges are colored gray, and the basic form and workmanship are the same as the black-and-white and color versions. But collector's items are ultimately valued for their rarity, and gray rims are by far the least produced.
Please take this opportunity to see our gray rim collection .