Hoffman’s Patterns of the Past (located in historic Princeton,Illinois) is home to the “Sea of China,” a unique treasure trove of china and crystal patterns dating back to the 19th century; most of it new “store stock” patterns acquired directly from the manufacturer. Hoffman's has been a Princeton institution since 1944, when the J. A. Murphey family purchased the business, which had existed since the mid 1800s. Patterns of the Past also offers appraisals and has one of the largest gift shops in central Illinois, stocking over 75 of the major collectible lines, including Swarovski, Jim Shore, Fenton, Department 56, and Willow Tree by Demdaco. Store hours are 9 to 5, Monday through Saturday, with special holiday hours. Large or small groups are welcome; for best service, please call or e-mail in advance since the research process can take some time.