Text by Holly Seng
Once an integral part of everyday life for 19th-century families gathering around the table for their meals, these antique breadboards, with their intricate carvings, capture the fascination of today’s collectors—especially Sue Hamilton.
“I like all antique and vintage things, but I particularly like [breadboards] because of the worn wood and satiny finish on them,” says Sue. “And I really love the gorgeous carved detail.”
Since purchasing her first antique breadboard from a local flea market in the ’90s, Sue has thoughtfully expanded her collection over three decades to include around 50 breadboards. While the boards come primarily from England, collectors can sometimes find rare pieces from other European countries such as Germany or the Netherlands. With a large British influence in her hometown on Canada’s West Coast, Sue’s collection focuses strictly on English varieties.
When it comes to locating these sought-after gems, Sue is always on the lookout—both locally and during her travels. “I’ve found them as far away as Arizona, and occasionally, I’ll go on the Internet and get some directly from England,” she says. “I’m always looking and love to hunt.”
From sheaves of wheat and grain to simple floral designs, the rim surrounding each board in Sue’s collection features a charming design, and no two are alike. “The ones I’m most drawn to are those that have slogans on them,” Sue says. Popular phrases include “Bread” and “Waste Not” carved in Gothic lettering.
While these pieces can still be used for their intended purpose, Sue prefers to display them in vignettes styled around her home. An expansive plate rack in her kitchen holds up to 16 boards at a time, ensuring Sue can showcase her cherished collectibles.
With a beautiful assortment of boards, each with its own storied past, Sue’s not done collecting just yet. “Because I’m a collector, one collection tends to lead into another collection of a subcategory,” says Sue. “Now, I’m collecting the matching carved bread knives. They go beautifully displayed with the boards.”
To see more of Sue’s collection, visit her on Instagram at @brocante_victoria.