I recently added to the Vintage Eve’s shop, and quickly sold, a lovely little silver-plated toast rack. In researching how to price it, I saw so many pretty toast racks it made me wonder how far back these go? Also, when did they actually start making toast? So of course that led me to when did they decide they needed a rack to stand them up and why?
Here is a picture of the toast rack that started this short jaunt.
The top is a little squished, but it is almost 100-years old, and one must forgive some flaws in a piece that old. Here’s a unique one in Lusterware from the 40s.
According to a New York Times article, toast has been around for awhile. It comes from the Latin “Torrere” which means “to burn.” While burnt toast isn’t the ideal, they actually originally used toast to flavor alcohol. They usually used stale bread that would hold up to toasting in the fire. They had toasting forks so they could hold the toast in the fire until it was just the right color.
The first toast racks seem to have come into existence sometime in the late 1700s, that comes from a mix of different sources. They all seem to agree that the 1770s is about the right time. They were simple devices at the beginning, just wire soldered to a tray type of thing. They got more elaborate as people started using them.
They were used because it kept the toast from getting soggy and the crumbs would get caught in the tray, keeping everything neat and tidy. There are some really wonderful examples of toast racks out there.
People tend to use these as letter holders these days, or they did until email took the place of snail mail. Time marches on, you know. I’m sure we’ll find another use for these. Maybe we might even go back to using them for toast!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this foray into toast racks. Enjoy your week!
I can’t believe it has been almost a year since I started this blog! I started it in October of 2015. Posting once a week, I have posted 44 articles talking about different companies and types of vintage collectibles. Each week I think “What am I going to write about this week?” and then something interesting pops up! There are so many neat collectibles to discover that there always seems to be something to investigate. This week it is the Edwin M. Knowles company (read a little further and find out why I got really excited this week).
See this item above? It totally attracted me during one of my jaunts. I love the orange and white poppies with the yellow edging. The raised flourishes are really pretty, too. It is a cake plate, you can tell by the 2 tab-handles on the side. Well, as I was on Replacements.com which is a huge database of patterns, looking for the name of the pattern on the cake plate, sifting through page after page of Knowles patterns, lo and behold I found a pattern I had given up ever finding the name to! The one below.
I had purchased these plates awhile back for the Vintage Eve’s shop and because they are not marked, could not find the pattern. And, trust me, I looked! I asked around … no one knew. Turns out it is an Edwin M. Knowles and it’s called Coral Pine. Finally! A name! I don’t know if you share my pain here, but it drives me crazy when I can’t identify a pattern!
So where did the Knowles Company originate? Who were they? Let’s find out! I went to my trusty pottery book to find out some good information. I’ve referenced this book before and probably will again, “Lehner’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Marks on Pottery, Porcelain & Clay” by Lois Lehner. The link will take you to Amazon if you want to purchase your own from any number of sellers which is where I got mine.
So she says that Edwin M. Knowles Company was in business from 1900 to 1963. A pretty good run compared to others like Ohme who was only in business for about 30 years. The business was started in 1900 and a major plant opened in 1913. It was located in Chester, Virginia. This plant became one of the “most modern and best equipped plants in the industry” (Lehner, 1988, p. 237).
They also had a factory from 1913 to 1963 in Newell, W. Virginia. This factory became the one factory when they sold the Chester plant to Harker Pottery in 1931. There was another company that began earlier than Edwin’s company; Knowles, Taylor, Knowles out of Ohio but don’t confuse them because they are 2 separate companies. There was also another company called Knowles, Homer, Pottery Company. This company was connected to Knowles, Taylor, Knowles but NOT the Edwin M. Knowles Company.
Another blog that talks about this company, RobbinsNest.com has more information than I had in the book. She says that Edwin was the son of the original founder of Knowles, Taylor, Knowles. He must have branched out on his own. He definitely found his own way as he was in business throughout the Depression when his father’s company did not make it.
Edwin’s company in fact grew. The Edwin M. Knowles Company became known for making the finest semi-vitreous ware in the industry. According to RobbinsNest.com, two of their more popular designs were Yorktown (very art deco) and Potomac (simple shape in 7 colors).
The company continued after Edwin’s death in 1943, passing to Frederick Blackmore Lawrence and then William A. Harris, Jr. into the 1960s. The company finally closed it’s doors in 1962 due in large part to cheap imports. This happened to a large number of U.S. potteries during that time like Spaulding, Purinton, and others. Another company bought the rights to the Knowles name and produced some plates during the 1980s and 1990s but it was not the original Edwin M. Knowles Company.
So that is the story of the Edwin M. Knowles Company. I find this stuff fascinating, how they are all interconnected. For a look at the different backstamps this company used and to research year of production, check out My Granny’s Attic Antiques (another great resource).
I hope you have a great week! Join me this week at the link parties listed on the right. And be sure to follow me by email or on BlogLovin’ where you can keep all your blogs together in one spot.
Well here is something I really didn’t know and found very interesting. Art Deco wasn’t actually named that until 1966! It was referred to by that name by Patricia Bayer on her retrospective of the 1925 exposition where it was first just an idea. Who knew?! Well, maybe some of you did but that was news to me. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Let’s start at the beginning.
I decided this week to talk about the Art Deco design element for two reasons. The first being that I love, love, love Art Deco. It’s my favorite style, just above mid-century modern. The second reason is that I found this pretty little powder or trinket jar to sell in my shop (above). So I decided that I would delve into what made Art Deco what it is.
You know me, I like the history of it all, so here is what I found. According to this Bryn Mawr College page on Art Deco, in 1925 there was an exposition in Paris called Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs Industriels et Modernes. The expo was supposed to highlight nouveau design from around the world.
Apparently, Herbert Hoover, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce at the time, decided America didn’t have anything new enough to enter. So he sent experts to the expo to basically take the shapes and designs they saw there and adapt them to American architecture.
There were members from the American Institute of Architecture, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The New York Times. Art Deco designs continued from 1925 to 1941.
Why it fell out of favor is beyond me because I love it so much, but times change. As the Bryn Mawr College Art Deco page states, the movement went beyond just building architecture but found its way into furniture, flatware and interior design. It focused on geometry, machinery, botany, nationalism and color. It also incorporated American Indian models and Pre-Columbian structures.
It was beauty at a time when the economic depression of the 30’s left so many unemployed and angry. Many buildings during this time were decorated and built in the Art Deco style. I love the rounded shapes mixed with the geometric pieces. The design was meant to convey “wealth and sophistication” (Britannica.com).
According to Britannica.com “its distinguishing features are simple, clean shapes often with a “streamlined” look.” They used a mix of natural and man-made (Bakelite, plastics, ferroconcrete) materials.
Some of the influences of Art Deco came from Art Nouveau, Bauhaus (German) and Cubism. Many Art Deco items were not mass-produced, especially furniture and jewelry. Some popular names attributed to this movement include René Lalique, Erté, Donald Deskey (Rockefeller Center), and William Van Alen (the Chrysler Building). Many examples of Art Deco architecture can be seen in Miami, Florida.
This has been a short history of the Art Deco movement. I learned something while I was researching this for the blog and I hope you learned a little by reading it! If you are looking for some Art Deco treasures, stop by the Vintage Eve’s shop and look around or in any of the shops that are credited in this blog. I always enjoy hearing from my readers so drop me a note if you enjoyed this post.
Have a great week!
Don’t forget, if you like any of these items, clicking on them will take you to an awesome Etsy shop where you may purchase them.
If you visit this blog regularly, you’ve probably noticed that I love kitchen stuff. I specifically love pottery and bowls. There is one other thing I like to collect that has absolutely nothing to do with these 2 loves. It’s women’s compacts. You know … the vintage kind. The kind of compact that conjures up Flappers in their beaded dresses powdering their noses at the table as they check out the people at the next table. Or the woman in the pencil skirt checking her makeup at her desk. I find them fascinating.
There are so many designs and shapes. You can find them at estate sales, antique stores, junk stores, thrift stores, sometimes even garage sales (though I can’t say I’ve had much luck at garage sales for this particular item).
When did women start carrying around these compacts? For a long time in history any woman who wore makeup at all was considered to be of a “lower moral character.” Especially true during the Victorian era. Let’s take a little peek at the history of makeup.
It’s well known that the Egyptians were one of the first societies to use makeup. Heavily lined eyes of both males and females can be seen in their culture. The classical Greeks used makeup sparingly. In the video “Best and Worst Makeup Moments in History” which is an interesting look at makeup through the ages, the Greek males felt that women were to remain virtuous and wearing makeup somehow did not convey that image.
Makeup began to be associated with deception through early Christian writings. Then in a complete about-face during the 1600s, really heavy makeup became the sign of the rich. Of course, many of their products were poisonous and damaged the skin. Hmmm, kind of counterproductive. The video mentioned above is a huge wealth of information on makeup through the ages.
According to Collectors Weekly and Best and Worst Makeup Moments in History, in the 1920’s the new modern woman began wearing heavy eye makeup. The age of the silent film helped to boost the sale of cosmetics. Makeup became respectable as well as affordable for everyone. With its new status, it now also became respectable to primp in public. Enter the ladies’ compact as the latest accessory of its day.
These compacts came in many shapes and sizes. Of course, like everything else in life, the status of the owner was reflected in these little mirrored cases. Some were ornate and set with jewels, others were fairly plain. As Collectors Weekly states, the more expensive compacts were made from gold or platinum.
The middle-class had compacts of sterling silver or steel with enameling. They could be quite expensive, also. A big name in the compact industry was Richard Hudnut (I have one of his creations and it’s my favorite). One of his compacts was sold in its day for $5 which doesn’t seem like a lot now but, back then, could buy a week’s worth of groceries. Times how they have a-changed!
There are also different types. There are compacts made just for powder and in a day when disposable was not the way it was done, they were refillable. Then there were rouge compacts, some even had a compartment for lipstick.
Some had extra little hinged doors in them to cover the contents. I find these the most fun. I love trying to figure out how they open. I have pared down my collection to just a few and have some left for sale in my shop but, as with all collectors, I’ll be keeping my eyes open for a new one to add. I think they are a beautiful piece of history we can hold in our hands.
Thanks for taking this journey through time with me. I love hearing from all of you that visit my blog so leave me a note if you have a chance. If you are looking for some great vintage compacts or other vintage treasures, be sure to visit the Vintage Eve’s shop on Etsy.
Isn’t this bowl pretty? I love this type of pottery. It is by a designer I had not heard of until this weekend when I was binge-watching a discontinued show I loved called “Cash in the Attic.” Yes, I am that person. “Antiques Roadshow,” “Cash in the Attic,” “Flea Market Flip” they are my kind of shows. Well, I was watching the show and someone had this gem of a bowl, not the one pictured here but another one. It happened to be worth some money. It was then that Paul Hayes (look him up, he’s adorable and well-educated on his subject, a lethal combination) explained who Charlotte Rhead was and why her pottery was important. So who was she?
According to World Collector’s Net, Charlotte Rhead was a woman who was born in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent in 1885. She came from a long line of potters. Her father, Frederick Alfred Rhead worked at Minton and her brother, Frederick Hurten Rhead became a famous pottery designer in his own right. Charlotte and her sister studied at the Fenton School of Art in the early 1900s.
After art school, Charlotte got a job at Wardle & Co. where her brother was working at the time. She became skilled at tube lining which is a process of squeezing a thin line of clay onto a pottery piece being decorated. It is like piping a line of icing on a cake. In this case, the clay is used to outline a design that is then colored in.
The process looks like this before it is fired and set. Charlotte became very skilled at this process before she left Wardle and moved to Keeling and Co. in Burslem as an enameler. Her brother had moved to America by this point.
She bounced around in the pottery world until she landed at Wood and Sons, where her dad was working and went to work again as a tube liner and also as a designer. She moved on to Burgess and Leigh of Middleport from 1926 to 1931 which is where she did the work for which she is best known. This is one of those works. This plate sold in 2003 for about $3,900 at Christie’s London.
From Burleigh she went to A.G. Richardson; Crown Ducal was their brand name. This occured in the 1930s. She was very prolific for Crown Ducal. Then from 1941 until her death in 1947 she worked at Wood and Sons, again. This all occurred during a time that few women worked. She was a very successful artisan on her own. It does not appear that she ever married.
Oh, remember her brother that moved to America. He created the Fiestaware line! I am not kidding. Talk about a creative family!
Have a great week.
Looking for some great vintage pottery? Check out my Etsy website Vintage Eve’s.
One night as I was casually watching one of my favorite shows, Antiques Roadshow, a little gem went on the appraisal table that gave me that feeling I get when I find the perfect pair of shoes at a price I can afford. In other words, I was drooling. The appraisal was quite informative as they always are on the Roadshow. Actually, as I write this I am watching a rerun of the Roadshow. Anyway, this particular appraisal introduced me to an artist I had never heard of, Clarice Cliff. Above is a picture of one of her designs.
Very art deco, which is one of my favorite eras in terms of design, I love many of her pieces. Not all of her pieces are this vibrant. It depended on who she was designing for, however they are all beautiful. Look at this piece …
This piece is a soup tureen. I love the roundness of it. Very earthy. The colors are so vibrant.
Clarice Cliff was born in 1899 in England and began working at the age of 13 (before those pesky child labor laws apparently). At the age of 17 she was hired by A.J. Wilkinson’s pottery. They eventually realized her potential and skill, giving her her own studio which is where she did some of her best work.
She created some iconic pieces for the Art Deco period. According to the Clarice Cliff website, one of her most famous designs “Bizarre” was launched in 1927.
The picture to the right is Clarice. The signature that you see is what you would look for when collecting her pottery. There are a number of backstamps to keep your eye out for and you can find a good visual list of them here.
Take a good look at this piece. You can see that it is hand-painted. The strokes of the brush are visible under the glaze. She used vibrant colors and shapes that everyone wanted during the 1920s and 1930s.
Items like this ask a higher price than some of her other work which can look rather bland compared to these cups.
This piece is hers also …
Because it lacks the impact of the pieces above, it does not command the kind of prices the other pieces do. It is. however, a Clarice Cliff design and is definitely worth the asking price.
I just want you to be aware that there are other pieces out there that don’t scream Clarice Cliff but nevertheless are her work. What I really fell in love with though was her dynamic period. It was Bold. Bright. The shapes were innovative. She was an amazing designer.