Patricia Farnes displays her first and favorite plate, “Game Birds.” The hand-engraved plate was made in England, and her grandmother gave it to her when Patricia was 6 or 7 years old. — The Holyoke Enterprise | Johnson Publications
The Classic Fairy Tale decorative plate collection depicts scenes from well-known fairy tales. Scenes from left are from “Little Red Riding Hood,” “The Three Little Pigs,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “The Frog Prince” and “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” — The Holyoke Enterprise | Johnson Publications
Patricia Farnes’ bell collection reminds her of her travels, but one of her favorites has Rhett Butler of “Gone With the Wind” as the bell’s neck. She also has a collection of “Gone With the Wind” decorative plates. — The Holyoke Enterprise | Johnson Publications
Plate and bell collections dish up the memories
From paper versions to the finest china and everything in between, plates have been a part of everyday life for countless years.
People use different styles for different occasions, always searching for the best type to hold a particular food.
Patricia Farnes’ decorative plates don’t hold food anymore, but a connection to her family and her interests.
She didn’t stop at just plates, either. She also collects bells from locales she’s visited over the years, reminding her of the memories she’s made while traveling.
Grandmother provides first plate of collection
Farnes got her first decorative plate from her grandmother when she was 6 or 7 years old. Farnes said her grandparents gave each of their grandchildren plates, which were kept at the grandparents’ house.
Whenever the grandchildren visited, they would eat off their individual plates, a family tradition they kept alive until Farnes was a teenager.
Farnes’ plate, titled “Game Birds,” was made in England and hand-engraved.
“The artwork on them is amazing,” she said. “I love the detail in the plates.”
She went on to acknowledge that it was the plates’ artwork and detail that prompted her to start collecting them in earnest about 40 years ago, when she realized that they could be used as decorations.
Once she started buying them, decorative plate companies began to solicit sales to her through the mail, and she was very selective about the plates she wanted.
She also noted that some of the plates in her collection were given to her as gifts.
“Once you start collecting, everyone sends you stuff,” she said, “and before you know it, you’re in deep.”
Although she stopped actively collecting in 1994 when she started raising cattle and horses, Farnes has amassed over 170 unique plates, most of which can be categorized into over a dozen distinct collections or themes.
These include a complete collection called “America the Beautiful,” which includes plates that are hand-painted to depict well-known natural wonders, such as Yellowstone, Yosemite Falls and the Grand Canyon.
She also has a set that depicts scenes from various classic fairy tales such as “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “The Three Little Bears.”
She said standard decorative plate runs have a firing period of 150 days before the mold is broken and the plates are no longer made.
Some of her plates had as little as a 14-day firing run before the mold was broken, making the plates fired in that mold more difficult to find.
Ultimately, the various types of plates she has can be chalked up to her wide array of interests, and she’s not too worried about the length of the firing.
In the end, she said, “You have to buy a plate that you like.”
Bells tell story of travels
Farnes’ bell collection started about the same time as her decorative plate collection, but the manner in which she acquired her pieces was different.
“If I went to a state and happened to find a bell I liked, I would get it,” she said. “Whenever I travel, I try to find things that will remind me of where I was and all the happy moments.”
She noted that buying the bells when on trips allows her in some ways to keep track of her history.
She has collected over 60 bells from different locations, each sparking a memory of a treasured moment from her travels.
Like the plates, the bells’ artwork is what drew her attention.
“When someone takes the time to paint something on there, it just means a lot,” she said, referring to the level of detail some of her hand-painted bells have.
Another thing her two collections have in common is the film “Gone With the Wind.” She has several different plates with scenes from the film painted on them and one bell whose neck is in the likeness of Clark Gable’s character, Rhett Butler.
Farnes said she plans to keep the plates and bells in the family, and she is always excited for what future possibilities could be on the horizon.
“We’ll do another adventure,” she said. “That’s how I look at life.”