The King's Plates

Italian fine porcelain

In the 1870s, King Umberto I and his wife, Margherita, left Florence's Pitti Palace for the new capital, Rome—a move signifying an equalizing of power between papal and lay governments. Soon after, they commissioned several sets of china from the Manufactory of Doccia that would rival any seen on tables at the Vatican. Today one of these, an especially beautiful dessert set called I Frutti di Bosco, is being reissued in limited quantities by the same firm, now known as Richard-Ginori and still producing most of Italy's finest porcelain, as it has since 1735. Like the originals, the six plates are hand-painted in relief using the pâte-sur-pâte technique, layering gold and color in multiple applications. Each features richly hued "fruits of the woods," their leaves and tendrils delicately etched in gold, and butterflies caught in various stages of flight. Body shapes of the teapot, creamer, and sugar bowl are as elegant as one has come to expect from Richard-Ginori. From $107 to $1,226 (dessert plate: $198). At 41 Madison Ave., New York; 800-215-1193.