I’m Jean Compton, and I want to welcome you to J. Compton Gallery.
When I was growing up, one of the oldest objects in our modest household – and my mother’s prized possession – was a small porcelain creamer bearing the word “Baylor” in fanciful green script. As much as my mom loved that creamer, I loved the story even more.
In 1933, when she was six, her father managed a dairy in Waco, Texas, where he delivered milk to Baylor University. It was the Depression, and Otis Bankhead was not a wealthy man. So he arranged with the school to take home the table scraps from the dining hall for his hogs. Students bussed the tables, and through haste or carelessness, various pieces of tableware were sometimes thrown out with the scraps – to my mother’s delight.
When the scraps were brought home, six-year-old Margaret Ella would climb the fence of the pigpen, dig through the troughs, and retrieve whatever castoffs she could find, while her sister Kitty kept the hogs at bay.
A motley assortment of plates, saucers, cups, bowls, and utensils became the centerpiece of their playhouse – nothing more than a shady spot beneath a voluptuous green grape vine, from which Leona Bankhead made savory green grape pies.
The family dishes were kept in a simple cupboard in the kitchen, and one of Margaret’s favorite pastimes (besides scavenging for dinnerware among the hogs) was swinging on the cupboard’s doors. One day she pulled the cupboard completely over. She was fine but every dish in the house was smashed to smithereens. At which her mother promptly confiscated the contents of the playhouse, and that’s what the family ate on until they could afford a new set of dishes.
To this day, what I love about antiques and folky treasures, besides their inherent charm, is the story. A name, a date, a note, photograph, a maker’s mark – a link to another place and time. That’s what you’ll find at J. Compton Gallery. Not with every item, of course. But often enough. I’m launching my online Gallery with David’s Doll, Charlotte’s Bear “Pierre,” Charley Kinney’s “Gron Hog Day,” Karl Buschl Rieden’s tramp art box, Helen Neumeyer’s Christmas 1886 toy table, and much more.
As for that little creamer collected oh-so-long ago, I still have it. It’s stamped on the bottom “Jackson Vitrified China” and was made in the 1930s by Jackson China Co., Fall Creek, Pennsylvania. My mom’s still living, but some years ago she passed it on to me.
Thank you for visiting J. Compton Gallery. I hope you find something here that speaks to you and that you’ll come back often.