One of the most popular china collectibles of all time is the very old Blue Willow Pattern. This china pattern has been popular since pre-Victorian times and has been produced by a multitude of different manufacturers over the years from the "made in Japan" common china, to the delicate Nippon (essentially means Japan), and popular "Booth's" china. During the Pioneer era (roughly around the 1790s to the 1870s), Blue Willow was even found in the hotels, inns and roadstops that served food. As late as the 1940s and early 1950s, Blue Willow restaurant ware could be found in some country eateries and diners. In fact, this pattern is so popular even today, that manufacturers such as Churchill are producing modern-day dinnerware sets using the same pattern.
Variations of the patterns exist, and some collectors focus on one variation or another, while others will collect any pieces at all, so long as the Blue Willow pattern is present - and in some cases, it doesn't matter if the colour is actually blue. Rarer colours are pink, brown or black, and although these are less popular colours, they are rarer, and collectors of the pattern will buy them up in a hurry. On a personal level, what I liked about it was the blue, and less so the pattern as I have other blue and white ware too.
Because it's still popular today, I'm wondering why I'm having such a tough time trying to sell some of my collection off. The prices I've set are pretty reasonable, since all of these pieces are vintage - I haven't purchased any Blue Willow pieces recently, and nothing I own was purchased "new" (reproductions). All of my pieces came from antique shops (which doesn't guarantee age so it pays to know a little something about collectible china) and estate sales, or have been inherited from family members. In fact, it was a family piece that started my "collecting" in the first place, shortly after I married. My grandmother had given my mother a lidded soup-tureen with matching ladle and rimmed plate, that my mom had always served our "Christmas" soup in. As kids, we always just thought of that soup as "Mom's Chicken-Meatball Soup", but came to understand as we grew up that it was Italian Wedding Soup. The only time my mother made that was on special holidays, like Christmas.
Still ... the cost of collecting it probably runs into a few thousand dollars. I don't really think of it as an investment, but I'd kind of like a few bucks for it ... just can't at this point figure out why I can't seem to sell it. I'm trying to sell it locally mostly (on Kijiji), because the shipping costs have been unreasonable, but I've noticed even going through some of the listings on e-bay ... nothing seems to be selling. Maybe it's just a summer-thing, I don't know, or maybe it's popularity has ebbed for the moment, but it seems unlikely. It's hard to say right now, but if I can't sell it (even for peanuts), I suppose I'll end up packing it all away in a big tote and try to find a way to store it, which I really would rather not do - after all, the whole point in selling it was to clear up some space in our house and storing the stuff isn't going to resolve that.
UPDATE: After a year of trying to sell the individual pieces (in total, along with plates and accessories there were probably 50 to 60 pieces of blue willow, and several sets of Dutch collectors plates, small pieces, jugs and vases) I ended up offering it all "en masse" as it were to a local antique dealer for $100.