One section of the exhibit
Long-time resident Steve Brigandi is a collector of all things Hampton, from old police and fire badges, to old postcards and photographs, to turn-of-the-century souvenir china.
Part of Brigandi's 100-piece Hampton souvenir china collection will be on display at the Tuck Museum of Hampton History starting May 22, along with pieces from the museum's collection, in celebration of Hampton's 380th birthday this year.
"Souvenir china is a window into Hampton's past at the turn of the 20th century, showing what people kept close to their hearts - their churches, schools, local business and, of course, Hampton Beach," said Betty Moore, executive director of the Tuck Museum. "We are honored to have Steve join us for this special exhibit with pieces from his collection that are unique and beautiful."
"Souvenir china helps tell the story of Hampton," said Brigandi. "For example, many of the hotels and businesses are no longer here or have significantly changed, so it's nice to be able to look back and see how Hampton once was."
The turn of the century was an exciting time in America. There were advances in transportation and photography, which were underpinnings for the new souvenir china industry. Also called view china, it displayed pictures of what people wanted to remember. Souvenir china was inexpensive, and utilitarian. Collecting plates, bowls, cups and saucers, creamers and pitchers, salt and pepper shakers, vases, ashtrays and other items was the rage. Brigandi's collection also includes hair receivers.
But it is the plates in particular that Brigandi considers pieces of art.
"I hope the exhibit will show people how beautiful souvenir china is," he said. "Today there are no souvenirs like the ones that were made by European craftsmen who had such pride in their products. You can certainly see that when you look at the china."
Brigandi started visiting Hampton in the summer when he was a boy, staying with his grandparents who had a cottage here. He moved to Hampton in 1976, and has been collecting souvenir china for 35 years.
Asked if he has a favorite piece of Hampton souvenir china Brigandi said, "I love them all!"