Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Time Capsule Table!

Let's open a table setting time capsule! These dishes, glassware, and flatware might have been oh-so-carefully included in an historic cache circa mid-1950s. I've displayed them for you on the table below:

Vintage ads promoting the companies that originally distributed the products:

Betty Crocker (General Mills), Oneida silverplated flatware:

Blue Ridge dinnerware (Southern Potteries, Erwin, Tennessee):

Rock Sharpe crystal:

Rock Sharpe etching/cutting on blanks manufactured by Libbey with their patented "Safedge" rim (guaranteed for life against chipping!). The ad below ran in Time Magazine in 1937:

We're in the sunroom on a cloudy day. No sunlight streaming across the table, but I don't mind. We desperately need rain.

This could be a table set for Sunday brunch. Instead of wine glasses, I used Rock Sharpe juice glasses and filled them with faux cranberry juice (the ol' food coloring in tap water trick). Or perhaps it IS something stronger ...

The dishes are "Spray" by Blue Ridge. The earliest they could have been produced would have been 1948, when the company's "pie crust" shape was introduced. Blue Ridge had ceased operating by 1957.

The glassware is Libbey/Rock Sharpe (3005 stem). I collect Rock Sharpe by shape without regard to which etched pattern I'm buying. I actually prefer mixing the designs for table settings. It adds variety and interest.

A closer view. Note the rounded edge that minimizes the liklihood of chipping the rim.

I'm using restaurant napkins today. They're great for everyday use, because they launder so beautifully. I folded them in half, in half again, and then into thirds. I rolled under the top edge and added a shower curtain ring for embellishment. The set of curtain rings was new in the box (on an outside table) at a recent local estate sale. I got the set for $1 on the last day of the sale.

This popular pattern, "Queen Bess," was introduced in 1946 by Oneida Community with their "Tudor Plate" trademark. It was offered as a Betty Crocker premium by collecting coupons from boxes of selected General Mills products.

A vintage ad stated: "Lovely Queen Bess Pattern. Extra heavy silverplate; principal forks and spoons reinforced with additional layer of pure silver. Dramatic new Queen Bess design, inspired by the Garden Rose of China."

From a 2002 story:

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — It was the lure of a 10-cent teaspoon (silverplate, no less) that attracted Martha Reuben to General Mills when she was a newlywed more than 50 years ago.

She loved the delicate floral spray that graced the spoon's handle. She wanted more.

Reuben joined housewives around the country in the 1940s, cutting out Betty Crocker coupons found on General Mill products and sending them in along with a little money to build sets of Tudor Plate Oneida Community flatware.

"They were beautiful. It was the Queen Bess pattern," said Reuben, 73, of Dayton, Ohio. "I can remember, I just couldn't stand it until it would come. I would run to the mailbox hoping my spoon or my fork or my knife would be there."

With the support of people like Reuben, who went on to buy multiple sets of flatware for her three children and baby dishes and silverware for her grandchildren, the Betty Crocker Catalog Points program survived until 2006 as one of the longest-running loyalty programs in the country.

From http://www.essortment.com/all/blueridgechina_rmpk.htm:

Blue Ridge China, a colorful series of hand-painted china and dinnerware began in Erwin, Tennessee by Southern Potteries, Inc. in 1920. The plant closed in 1957, yet during those years, girls and women from the hills were trained to freehand paint the hundreds of designs and patterns.

From 1920 - 1938, the china was primarily designs taken from sheets of decals, then applied by hand. But from 1938 to 1957, Southern Potteries began adding simple designs by hand around the decals, then did away with the decals and began designing and hand-painting the dinnerware.

Southern Potteries was adept at marketing. Blue Ridge was used in advertising other products. It was sold by Sears, given away in gas stations and supermarkets.

The more unusual the piece (egg cups, relish trays, pitchers, salt and pepper shakers, tea pots, large turkey platters, etc.) can sell for hundreds of dollars. Yet, plates, small bowls, cups and saucers, can be purchased in pristine shape for $15-25 in many cases, and less if showing minor chips or cracks.

From http://www.suite101.com/content/collecting-blue-ridge-pottery-from-tennessee-a132107:

During the 1930s and World War II years, importing dinnerware from Europe to the U.S. became a difficult task. It was during this era that American manufactured pottery and china gained popularity. Many of the patterns resembled Italian, French and English patterns but were much less expensive and readily available to all parts of the U.S. through catalogue sales and the local five and dime store.

Because each piece was hand painted, slight discrepancies within the patterns such as sizes of flowers, embellished strokes and color variations are common. The most distinctive feature of Blue Ridge pottery is the brightly colored one-dimensional floral designs.

For fun I added an Indiana Glass tulip-shaped sundae glass filled with vintage silverplated salad/dessert forks. While I definitely enjoy ice cream, I've never used one of these glasses for a sundae. They work well as vases for small flower arrangements and can serve as a "spooner." A popular collectible today, the spooner or spoonholder, provided as much symbolic value as function for Victorian society. The prominently displayed spoons were a clear sign of ready hospitality, as well as a status symbol for the increased affluence among the expanding middle class who could now afford silver spoons, or at least a good facsimile

I included the little ceramic partridge (quail, bobwhite?) below on a whim. She's marked "made in Japan" on the underside. I found her at a local thrift store a few days ago. I was purchasing several items. She didn't have a price tag, so the shop owner said, "I won't charge you for that."

I think she looks interesting, but slightly forlorn.

If I were really serving brunch, we wouldn't absolutely need candles, but I think they add ambience regardless of the time of day ...

As you see below:

Actually a few hours had elapsed since I took the first few photographs. There was a local estate sale I didn't want to miss. Well ... two estate sales. I didn't bring home any treasures, but I did buy an extra plate in a pattern I collect, some books, lots of candles, 3 bone dishes, and some kitchen items.
I purchased these Rock Sharpe champagne/tall sherbet glasses at an estate sale. I'll have to remember to show you the matching cordial glasses soon. Will I ever use them? I don't know, but they're adorable!
Normally I carefully center the dishes in each place setting. Today I shifted them to the right to allow you to better enjoy the hand-painted designs. These are the luncheon sized plates -- about 9.5 inches in diameter; the dinner plates are 10.5.

At what point does recycling flowers from a centerpiece become a science project? This is the third week I've used these flowers (and they were "nearing expiration" and reduced when I bought them!). The arrangements are getting smaller and smaller, but I don't have the heart to throw them away as long as any of them retain glimpses of their former beauty.

I was amazed to find these eight five-piece place settings of Blue Ridge dinnerware at a Missouri antiques mall a few months ago. I've been looking at Blue Ridge in antiques shops and malls for years, and I've rarely seen this many place settings of one pattern, particularly not in such good condition.
This must have been the rare set of Blue Ridge that was primarly used for display in someone's home. I noticed rim chips on one of the cups and a few minor dots/specks here and there, imperfections in the glaze during the manufacturing process.

Blue Ridge wasn't fine china, nor was it ever intended to be. These were "workhorse" dishes. Often the ones in shops have chips, cracks, and/or darkened areas. When I see the ones with crazing and discoloration, I imagine husbands and teenagers coming home late and being told quietly, "I kept a plate of food warm for you in the oven."

A nice way to be welcomed home -- but not conducive to keeping dinnerware looking pristine!

No spoons in the "spooners" today. This one holds a variety of extra butter knives and spreaders. The salt and pepper shakers are vintage "Cape Cod" by Imperial.

It's raining now, and the wet leaves "decorate" the deck ...

I'm using inexpensive lead crystal tealight holders for additional sparkle. They weren't from the "time capsule," but I think they blend well with vintage tabletop items.

Now I know why the little bird was looking so miserable ... she was concerned for her babies. They were waiting for me to rescue them from one of the estate sales this afternoon. Do you think she seems happier now?

A few more views of the table:

It was a happy accident that the colors on the table harmonize with the views of nature through the glass ...

Time to say farewell ... for now. I hope you have a happy Halloween!

I've decided to list the Blue Ridge dinnerware used on today's table in my Etsy shop. I might regret it ... when I start packing them for shipping. I promise I'll do it carefully though. Why are they going into the shop? As much as I like them and appreciate their charm (and the fact that they were hand-painted by Tennessee artisans), I'm really more of an elegant china kinda guy. These need to go to someone who will love and use them.

You can check out the listing HERE.

Please join Susan of
Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Earthy Meets Ethereal -- Does it Work?

If you’ve visited Affordable Accoutrements before, you know I like setting tables with elegant vintage china, sparkling glassware, cloth napkins, and flowers from the garden. This week I’ve decided to do a slight variation on that familiar theme. I’m using sturdy restaurant china, recently purchased at an antiques shop in southern Illinois. I always enjoy the challenge of juxtaposing everyday objects (often thrifted) with estate sale treasures that have the look of family heirlooms. It can be a delicate balance to achieve, one I hope I’ve accomplished for you today.

The centerpiece is something of a recycling project. Last week, with very little blooming in the garden, I arranged a bouquet of aging flowers from the supermarket (reduced to $3.99). Surprisingly, most of the blooms still seemed fresh enough to use again today. I cut the stems short and did three small arrangements in soup/cereal bowls.

Last week's centerpiece:

An overview of today's table:

The stemware is Caprice by Cambridge (1936 – 1958).

The dishes were manufactured by Scammell China 0f Trenton, New Jersey. Date: circa 1925 – 1929.

Caprice was one of Cambridge Glass Company's most popular patterns. In the June 1936 issue of China, Glass and Lamps, the Caprice line boasted over 200 items with more than 150 pieces in open stock.

From a department store brochure:

“Caprice – Beautiful, distinctive, patterned in circling ripples that achieve an entirely new Modern beauty, yet harmonizing with early periods. Designed to associate agreeably with your finest table setting."

"Caprice -- like the enchantment of rippling water."

"Caprice captures the whim of dancing lights for your table."

These Bickford's plates were customized by using Scammell’s griffin pattern adding Bickford’s custom border and topmarked name. Southern Pacific Railways used Scammel’s griffin pattern in Daylight Blue (minus the customization).

From http://www.antiqueweek.com/:

There was a time, not long ago, when a traveler could come to America by sail or steamship, cross the country by rail and stay in the finest hotels, and never once eat off a dish that was not made in Trenton, N.J.

The Lamberton Works first opened in 1869 operating for several years before selling in 1888 to Thomas Maddock, whose family had been craftsmen and decorators for the Staffordshire Potteries in England for generations. While owned by the Maddocks, Lamberton Works produced some of the highest quality domestic and commercial china in the world.

In 1923, a former office boy, D. William Scammell, along with his five brothers, purchased the plant. Under the Scammels, the client list and variety of wares rapidly grew. Prominent hotel and restaurant customers included the Waldorf-Astoria, the William Penn, and LaSalle, in addition to Macy’s and Gimbel’s department stores.

During the heyday of luxury railroad travel, Lamberton Works created china for the New Jersey Central, Union Pacific, the Pennsylvania, New York Central, Southern Pacific and Baltimore & Ohio Railroads. It also provided its product for shipping lines including the Holland-America, the Norfolk and Washington Steamboat Co., Norwich Line, Panama Pacific Steamship and United States Lines among others.

The Scammels successfully ran the pottery company until D. William died in 1952. Largely abandoned after the Scammell China Co. closed in 1954, what remained of the old factory burned down in 1972. For the next 20 years, the Lamberton name lived on as a line of china manufactured by the Sterling China Co. of Wellsville, Ohio, which purchased the equipment and ongoing contracts from the Lamberton Works in 1954.

Lamberton Works pieces from both the Maddock and Scammell eras are much sought-after by collectors today.

The napkins aren't vintage, but they did come from a local estate sale. They were priced at 8 for $4.50 (purchased for $2.25 the second day of the sale). One still had the department store price sticker folded inside -- $4.50 each.

I was curious about Bickford's. Here's what Wikipedia says:

Bickford's Restaurants and Cafeterias were mainstays in the New York City area from the 1920s into the 1970s. Samuel Longley Bickford (1885–1959) began his restaurant career in 1902, and in 1921, he established his quick-lunch Bickford's restaurant chain. In 1959, the company introduced the Bickford's Pancake House family restaurants, followed by the chain of Bickfords Grilles (minus the apostrophe) which currently operates throughout New England.

I "cheated," since I only have four Caprice tall water glasses. I filled in the end place settings with Fostoria's Wavecrest pattern (1935 - 1943). I've read that Caprice also was manufactured in 1935, even though the official introduction date is 1936. Many of the elegant glass companies of the Depression era created patterns that were similar to, and influenced by, others (just as automobile manufacturers, etc. have always done). The Wavecrest glasses still have their original Fostoria stickers. Obviously I'd remove them if I were using them to serve guests, but since they've "worn" them for 70 years or so ... I just didn't have the heart to take them off ... just yet.

The silverplated serving piece below is a tomato/cranberry server, not included with most basic sets of flatware.

The pattern is Fascination (silverplate, 1936) by International Silver. I like the clean lines of the deco-influenced design.

I thought you might like to know more about Bickford's in New York. There are several literary and cultural figures connected with the place. From Wikipedia:

Jack Kerouac sometimes wrote while sitting in Bickford's, and he mentioned the restaurant in Lonesome Traveler. Other famed members of the Beat Generation could be found at night in the New York Bickford's as noted by The New York Times:

The best minds of Allen Ginsberg's generation "sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's," he wrote in Howl. The Beat Generation muse, Herbert Huncke, practically inhabited the Bickford's on West 42nd Street. Walker Evans photographed Bickford's customers, and Andy Warhol rhapsodized about Bickford's waitresses. Bickford's made its way into the work of writers as diverse as Woody Allen and William Styron.

Andy Warhol's assistant was out getting a coffee-to-go at Bickford's when Warhol was shot. The Mad cartoonist Wally Wood was 21 years old when he worked as a Bickford's busboy shortly after his 1948 arrival in Manhattan.

I used open salts and individual pepper shakers on today's table. The salts were 6 for $5 at an antiques mall, and the boxed set of pepper shakers was a Goodwill find.

From http://opensalts.info/wwwopensaltsinfo.html

Salt cellars, also known as open salts and salt dips, have been around for centuries. One was pictured spilled over in front of Judas in a painting by Leonardo da Vinci. It is only in the last century that they have disappeared from the table. Before salt crystals began to be refined by modern manufacturing methods, they were too big to sprinkle out of shakers like pepper. Therefore salt was served in open dishes. Then in the 19th century, just about the time the American Civil War ended, glass shakers with threading right in the glass were invented.

Shakers with some sort of agitator inside to break up the salt became more common. Open salts did continue to be made and used for several more decades but almost completely disappeared by the time of the Great Depression.

I placed an iced beverage spoon above each place setting, in case someone wants iced tea (and you thought I'd confused them with salt spoons, didn't you?).

I'm always on the lookout for Caprice serving pieces. I prefer the goes-with-everything clear/crystal version, but the blue is extremely popular with Cambridge collectors.

Another view of the table (with the overhead lights switched on).

The Caprice candleholders are among my favorites. The flowing swirls capture the feeling of cascading water, don't they?

It's late afternoon now ...

Time to light the candles! That was all I really had to say today. I hope you enjoy the rest of the photographs ...

Please join Susan of Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.