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WARNER ROBINS, Ga. – Robins FCU President/CEO John Ruffin admits he had no real interest in Blue Ridge China until his wife Frances asked him to help her write a book on the more than 3,000 patterns that have adorned the flatware. Frances had inherited a piece from her mother, pulled it out of storage about 25 years ago and frustrated by a lack of information on pattern names, she opted to gather her own research findings and photos and compile them in a book. “She asked me to help her with the book and in a moment of weakness, I said yes,” Ruffin sighed. Their efforts led to the publishing of Blue Ridge China Today in 1997, which Ruffin said is one of the most widely accepted reference books for collectors and dealers. By then, Ruffin was on his way to being a “novice” china collector. The Ruffins wrote Blue Ridge China Traditions in 1999 and another book is in the works to be published this year. The couple has nearly 6,000 pieces in 21 china cabinets and hordes of boxes throughout their home, and they’re in the process of building a two-room addition for the myriad of plates, teapots and platters. He traveled extensively during his 12-year career as NCUA’s Region Five Director. After a full day of meetings came to end, he would scour antique shops and Goodwill stores for finds. Two of his most rare finds came via eBay. A platter made for the manager of the Southern Potteries, the largest producer of hand painted china in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s, features a large mouth bass on the front and the manager’s name, his fishing buddies’ names and a painting of the entrance to a fishing camp in Florida on the back. “I’m a little bit embarrassed to say how much I paid for it,” Ruffin said, adding he’s seen them sell for as much as $3,000. Another eBay find was a plate designed exclusively for President Herbert Hoover for a function in his honor while campaigning in Johnson City, Tenn. Hoover had the plate hung in the White House. Ruffin’s favorite is the nine-inch “Parrot Plate,” a china piece that features a colorful tropical scene. He had two and sold one for $900. [email protected]

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