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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

AHHHH the Good Ole Days when a Dollar was a Dollar

Was in the mood to go shopping and spend some money. Well it was so hot and miserable I decided to just stay home and not spend my money after all. As I sat contemplating the issue I started reminiscing about mail order catalogs. I use to love looking thru them and wishing the dollars away. Rarely did I ever order anything,but apparently many people did. Kinda like today, so many people shopping online. I have always been one who wanted to touch,smell,handle the item before purchase so I guess that is why I seldom ordered from a catalogue or never do any online shopping.
Anyway I spent some time online searching for old catalogue ads out of Sears&Roebucks, Montgomery Ward, etc from the 1920's thru the 1940's. Let me further say,I was born in the 1950's, so these are even before my time.   Hope you enjoy !!

Sunday, May 27, 2012


In the business of Antiques & Collectibles, whether a flea market,antique mall,or any other outlet selling these items certain phrases are given to help define a period of time for those items. Some times things are labeled incorrectly and reflect a certain style instead of the correct time period, so here is the breakdown. Also many of these time periods and styles overlap each other, much like today when many different styles are introduced for the tastes of the masses.

The Victorian Era --
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901.[1] It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence for Britain. Some scholars date the beginning of the period in terms of sensibilities and political concerns to the passage of the Reform Act 1832.
The era was preceded by the Georgian period and succeeded by the Edwardian period. The latter half of the Victorian age roughly coincided with the first portion of the Belle Époque era of continental Europe and the Gilded Age of the United States.
Culturally there was a transition away from the rationalism of the Georgian period and toward romanticism and mysticism with regard to religion, social values, and the arts.[2] The era is popularly associated with the values of social and sexual restraint.

The term Victorian used to describe an Antique is referring to the popular styles of the time as related to furniture,art,etc.
The style includes a plethora of floral designs that are feminine and lacy. The use of wallpaper (floral or formal), elaborate furniture carving, and rich trims and embellishments, with Oriental and Gothic touches mark the distinctive Victorian decor.
Victorian wood was usually stained dark. They used mahogany, oak and walnut to make their massive and elaborately carved furniture. Marble tops were added to many pieces.

The Art Nouveau Era--
An international philosophy[1] and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that were most popular during 1890–1910.[2] The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art". It is known also as Jugendstil, pronounced [ˈjuːɡn̩tʃtiːl ], German for "youth style", named after the magazine Jugend, which promoted it, as Modern (Модерн) in Russia, perhaps named after Parisian gallery "La Maison Moderne", as Secession in Austria-Hungary and its successor states after the Viennese group of artists, and, in Italy, as Stile Liberty from the department store in London, Liberty & Co., which popularised the style. A reaction to academic art of the 19th century, it was inspired by natural forms and structures, not only in flowers and plants but also in curved lines. Architects tried to harmonize with the natural environment. It is also considered a philosophy of design of furniture, which was designed according to the whole building and made part of ordinary life.[3]

The term Art Nouveau used to describe an Antique
It is characterized by non-geometric plant and floral-inspired motifs, as well as highly-stylized, sinuous lines. It was a reaction to mass production and a return to handcraftsmanship and the human imagination. Designers in the movement include Charles Rennie Mackintosh, René Lalique, and Louis Comfort Tiffany

The Arts and Crafts Era--
Arts and Crafts was an international design movement that flourished between 1860 and 1910, especially in the second half of that period,[1] continuing its influence until the 1930s.[2] It was led by the artist and writer William Morris (1834–1896) and the architect Charles Voysey (1857–1941) during the 1860s,[1] and was inspired by the writings of John Ruskin (1819–1900) and Augustus Pugin (1812–1852). It developed first and most fully in the British Isles,[2] but spread to Europe and North America.[3] It was largely a reaction against the impoverished state of the decorative arts at the time and the conditions in which they were produced.[4]

The term Arts and Crafts used to describe an Antique
In the United States, denotes the style of architecture, interior design, and decorative arts that prevailed between the dominant eras of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, or approximately the period from 1910 to 1925, It stood for traditional craftsmanship using simple forms and often applied medieval, romantic or folk styles of decoration. It advocated economic and social reform and has been said to be essentially anti-industrial. Alot of furniture from this period is known as Mission Furniture ane labeled as such instead of Arts&Crafts.
Also Known As: Mission

The Art Deco Era--
Art deco (/ˌɑrt ˈdɛk/), or deco, is an eclectic artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s[1][2] and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s and into the World War II era.[3] The style influenced all areas of design, including architecture and interior design, industrial design, fashion and jewelry, as well as the visual arts such as painting, graphic arts and film. The term "art deco" was coined in 1966, after an exhibition in Paris, 'Les Années 25' sub-titled Art Deco,[4] celebrating the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts) that was the culmination of style moderne in Paris. At its best, art deco represented elegance, glamour, functionality and modernity. Art deco's linear symmetry was a distinct departure from the flowing asymmetrical organic curves of its predecessor style art nouveau; it embraced influences from many different styles of the early twentieth century, including neoclassical, constructivism, cubism, modernism and futurism[5] and drew inspiration from ancient Egyptian and Aztec forms. Although many design movements have political or philosophical beginnings or intentions, art deco was purely decorative.[6]

The term Art Deco used to describe an Antique
It is based on stylized geometric shapes such as stepped forms, chevrons, sunbursts, and curves and was considered quite modern at the time. It is primarily known for its use of man-made materials such as chrome and stainless steel. Natural materials such as inlaid wood were also used and with its rich and vibrant colors, it is still glamourous and distinctive.  Also Known As: Art Moderne
The Depression Era--
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in 1930, and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s.[1] It was the longest, most widespread, and deepest depression of the 20th century.[2]
The term Depression Era used to describe an Antique
Most recognized collectible from this time period is Depression Glass which was defined as inexpensive made glass but elegant in design. The time period is from 1929 to about the mid 1940's. Also alot of furniture was made with what was considered poorer quality woods and had applied veneers to add a more expensive look. BUT the quality of these items are superior if taken care of, to what is made today. 

Vintage & Retro--
These two phrases are used very loosely and really reflect anything  considered collectible and not yet even 50 years old. Vintage is sometimes used for anthing old, or if  the owner is not sure of exact time frame. Myself I believe these two phrases should be limited to or not be used until an item is at least 30 years old. In other words items from the 1950's thru 1960's are Vintage and items from the 1970's are Retro.  Thats right, I am snobbish on this one and get a little preturbed when I see an item marked retro or vintage and it was made and promoted as a future collectible in the 1980's and even later. Examples:Collector Plates,Beannie Babies so on and so forth.
 So I hope this helps you understand the meaning behind the phrase used to label or describe the next Antique or Collectible you come across. It is even possible that what you see tagged is wrong, and if so, at least maybe you can feel more confident in your purchase, having this knowledge..   

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I have spent a couple weeks separating a boatload of Melmac I received all at one time. Today I took many different styles of one brand into the store (shown in photos), TexasWare and their later version called DallasWare.

In the 1950's, innovation, whether it was in automobiles, in homes or in fashion, was everywhere. It was precisely during this time that Americans began to set out meals on colorful, unbreakable and lightweight dishes called Melmac. This popular dishware appeared in many patterns and colors, but Texas Ware, or Dallas Ware, were among the most popular because of their appealing solid pastels, bright colors and distinctive patterns

Because of the great popularity with most housewives for being colorful, unbreakable (can be broken), and practical many additional companies jumped on the bandwagon and also produced a great selection of Melmac dinnerware.

This post just talks about Texas Ware/Dallas Ware 

" One of the hottest, newest, funniest kitchen collectible is Dallas born and bred: Texas Ware dishes, made from the late 1950s through the mid-'90s by Plastic Manufacturing Co. (PMC) of Oak Cliff.
That was info I didn't know before, I always thought or heard they stopped in the late 1970's. I got online and did some research for us because I had never seen so many colors and patterns in TexasWare before now, I was only familiar with the multi color spatter bowls,restaurant ware and mint green.  

PMC was once the largest maker of molded melamine dishware in the world.
Its innovations included the first two-color melamine pieces and stacking drink tumblers.
Stackable Cups
In the '50s and '60s, Texas Ware ads in national magazines featured June Cleaver-like models touting such patterns as "Fleur de-Lis," "Golden Wheat" and "San Jacinto."
They also made lots of restaurant ware in pastel colors with divided dishes, trays and the famous stackable cups. These continued into the 1980’s and 90’s, but the dinnerware sets for home lost favor in the 70’s because of the use of dishwashers and microwaves which were harmful to these products.

I have not been able so far to find the data for when the product name was changed to DallasWare. Interestingly you can have two pieces exactly in color,shape,and style side by side, one will be marked TexasWare the other DallasWare.
TexasWare Grill Plate

One blog I found claimed the white grill plate by TexasWare shown here in photo are considered rare. I do not know if that is true or not,but I have two.

But some of the most sought-after Texas Ware pieces are ones that were made
more as an afterthought and seldom advertised. They're the multicolored mixing bowls - variously called spatter, splatter or speckle ware - the company made as a means of using up surplus or "reject" manufacturing materials. When they were new, the bowls never sold for much.

Spatter Ware Bowls

 A three-bowl set went for less than $2 in the late '50s, about $5 in the '80s. Today you find these bowls priced from $25 to $40 each depending on condition and color combinations.

Reminder these photos showcase what has been added to the inventory
and are looking for good homes !

Sunday, May 6, 2012

History of Melmac Dinnerware & its Care

History of Melmac Dinnerware

Plastic dinnerware was found in many homes in the 1940's through the 1970's and is highly collectible now. During the 1930's the raw material "melamine" hit an all time low price. With heightening wartime threats and soon to be monetary constraints, American industrialists jumped on the bandwagon to make melamine into functional products for both commercial and households.

Melamine, a thermoset plastic material was used in many factories and in much dinnerware production by the late 1940's. American Cyanamid was one of the leading manufacturers and distributors of melamine powder to plastics molders. They name-branded their version "Melmac".

One of the benefits of molders purchasing from American Cyanamid, was the advertising campaign for Melmac. Just look in any old Life magazines from the early 1950's and you will see how heavily Melmac the wonder plastic was marketed by American Cyanamid There were other manufacturers whom would offer melamine powders for molding (Allied Chemical and PMC Manufacturing to name a few), if a molder were to purchase from a non-Cyanamid distributor they could not refer to their melamine dishes "melmac". This may be why some old ads for plastic dinnerware specifically say "Made of Melmac" and others may say Plaskon, or perhaps just melamine.

American Cyanamid constantly improved their formulas, and did extensive consumer product testing and research (even hiring Russel Wright) (famous designer of furniture, dinnerware, etc), to do a long survey and compile reports in the mid 1940's. Additionally, American Cyanamid (pre 1960) would send inspectors to certain factories to make sure that melmac dishes were meeting certain specifications and highest quality standards.

Why Melamine? Early Plastics Dinnerware Manufacturing

The actual material "melamine" was dirt cheap in the mid to late 1930's and there was a push to use this new material for all kinds of things. Entering wartime constraints, plastic was soon to be the wave of the future. Housewares made of early plastics, resins and Bakelite did not hold up well or withstand regular washings or heat, but when melamine began in dinnerware production for the military, it proved that this new "improved plastic" could indeed hold up well.

Early melamine manufacturers experimenting with melamine operated 24/7 just to keep up with plastics demands.

Caring for your plastic vintage ware.
Melmac is a hard plastic dinnerware made with melamine and formaldehyde. It created quite a hit in an era that only had glass dinnerware. Made in soft pastels and the harvest colors of green, orange and yellow, the almost unbreakable dinnerware became most popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Manufacturers produced both household and restaurant Melmac dinnerware, but with the popularity of dishwashers and microwaves in homes, Melmac popularity started a decline. Now it has become very collectible and desired once again.
 1. Wash with hot, soapy water. Use a toothbrush or soft brush to get into all the crevices and remove the dirt, grime and grease that may have accumulated on the vintage Melmac. Keep Melmac out of the dishwasher. The dishwashing detergent and high heat of the dishwasher will fade the dinnerware.
 2. Eliminate stains by soaking three minutes in a bleach solution of one-half chlorine bleach and one-half water. Repeat for stubborn stains. Always dilute beach, because straight bleach can fade the color of the Melmac. Apply rust remover with a cloth to remove rust, but do not let plasticware soak in the solution.

3. Remove price tag glue by soaking Melmac in hot, soapy water. If the hot water does not work, try vegetable oil, or use a dab of glue solvent.
4. Keep pieces away from heat. Do not set pieces near the stove or put them in the microwave. Melmac burns, scorches, cracks and bubbles when exposed to heat.

5. Restore the shine by applying plastic polish to the Melmac. Purchase polish at a supermarket or discount store. It takes about 20 minutes of rubbing and polishing to restore each piece. Any remaining scratches will be less visible.

Tips & Warnings
·         If abused or dropped on a cement floor, Melmac will break.
·         Do not use abrasives on Melmac; they will damage the surface.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Now You Know--Louisville Ky Famous Potteries

Owing to the abundance of ancient clay deposits in the region, Louisville has been a center of pottery-making for generations.

John B. Taylor--founded 1815 sold 1970 to Louisville Stoneware

Louisville Pottery which became Louisville Stoneware--founded 1815 still exists

M A Hadley Pottery--inception 1940--storefront 1944 still exists

This and the following photos just show some of the variety that we have available.

I only listed three of the many known potteries established thru the years in the Louisville area because these are the ones I'm asked the most questions about. Many do not realize for example that John B Taylor was bought out by Louisville Stoneware or that Mary Alice Hadley worked for John B Taylor prior to branching out on her own.  Another confusing issue for some is the fact that Louisville Stoneware produced some of the same pattern designs originated by John B Taylor.


 John B Taylor

The JB Taylor Company was founded in 1815 in Louisville, Kentucky. But it was not owned by John B. Taylor until 1938. In 1970 the company was sold and became known as Louisville Stoneware.  Some of the old patterns are still in production as well as many new designs.

Some of the oldest patterns include Harvest and Vintage. In the earlier days, the artists were likely to experiment with different designs and you can occasionally find a unique treasure in antique/consignment shops.  Because Louisville Stoneware still uses the original designs today, to identify the oldest it has to be marked  John B Taylor.  Some collectors prefer only John B Taylor pieces, so you should expect to pay more for the pieces marked/identified as John B Taylor.

John B Taylor pieces

One of the better known potters to work for John B. Taylor was MA Hadley (Mary Alice Hadley), who started a company of her own. MA Hadley is very collectible and highly sought after for their varied and creative hand painted patterns.

M A Hadley
By the late 1930’s Mary Alice Hadley began melding her artistic talent with her knowledge of clay ware. In 1939, Mrs. Hadley made dishes for her houseboat on the Ohio River. The creative result was a set of a custom dishes that caused such a stir among her friends and acquaintances that the idea for a business was born. Supplying those early requests provided wide circulation for her hand-crafted pottery and soon orders began to arrive from across the country. With the help of her husband, George, the Hadley Pottery Company was formed early in 1940.
In 1944, George Hadley purchased a building in the Butchertown area of Louisville as a birthday present for Mary Alice. The building, constructed in 1848, has been home to a wool mill, a candle factory and a cordage mill and for 65 years has served as the production location, factory salesroom and offices of Hadley Pottery Company. Many pieces of original art created by Mary Alice Hadley are still on display at the historic structure on Story Avenue, including several wall murals all hand-painted by Mary Alice herself. She worked at the Pottery until her death in 1965. George Hadley continued to run the business until it was sold in 1979 to Louisville natives, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth W. Moore. In September 2009, new partners joined the Hadley Pottery ownership group, but operations remain largely the same as they were when the company was started. The creative inspiration that Mary Alice Hadley brought to the ware still lives today. 

                                           M A Hadley pieces

Louisville Stoneware

Louisville Stoneware is located in the Highlands section of Louisville.  Founded in 1815 as Louisville Pottery and then becoming Louisville Stoneware, is known for creating fanciful stoneware that is nationally renowned. It specializes in decorating its pottery with  Kentucky Derby  and Christmas themes, but it has other themes as well: Noah's Ark, Primrose, Pear etc being examples. You can also request specialties or go to their location to decorate your own.
Items from Louisville Stoneware are in the Smithsonian Institution and White House.  In addition, Queen Elizabeth II was presented a  music box made by Louisville Stoneware, given by the wife of Kentucky's governor Ernie Fletcher, that played My Old Kentucky Home when the Queen visited Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby in 2007..

Louisville Stoneware pieces