My apologies for being so long away from the blog. Life had a way of intervening at the end of last year, and I lost someone very dear to me. I decided to ease back into the swing of things with a quick post about a very interesting little gadget that I found in my travels. Usually, I put them in my Vintage Eve’s Etsy store, however, this one was something that I found too invaluable to sell!
This thing is called a “Top Off” and it was produced by the Edlund Company out of Burlington, Vermont. This company came into being in 1928 according to UVM.edu. They were a manufacturer of can openers and other kitchen items; founded by Henry, Oscar, and Walter Edlund.
In 1931, the company had about 75 employees and “five different size can openers, ranging in price from $10 to 75 cents” (UVM.edu). I can’t imagine buying a can opener in 1938 for $10 which would now be the equivalent of $162 in today’s market! That must be a fearsome can opener! But I have to say, this one is still going strong even after all these years.
You just put this beauty on the jar, turn the top piece clockwise to open the sliding sides until the two sides fit over the jar, and then turn counter-clockwise. This simple machine uses the leverage of the handle and the steel grippers to pop the top off any jar I’ve had to open. Works like a charm! And is as solid as the day it was manufactured. This little gadget was developed sometime in the 1940s.
Turns out Edlund is still in business in Vermont, and they continue to produce high-quality kitchen and industrial items. I for one though, down to my vintage soul, will continue to love and use my 1940s Top Off. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken!
I hope you enjoyed learning a little about this handy little gadget. It will never be in my Etsy store, unless I find another one. Then I may be convinced to sell any others I come across … maybe.
The other day in my travels, I ran across a pattern I hadn’t seen before. I was familiar with Homer Laughlin china, which I’ve actually posted about before and is archived here on the Vintage Eve’s blog. I had never seen this pattern, though. It was in their DuraPrint line. Also, new to me, as I hadn’t picked up any pieces in that line before.
So this gorgeous pattern is called Star-Brite. If you look it up on Replacements, they list it as HLC1850 (HLC=Homer Laughlin China). It is so iconically 1950s with the black and aqua color scheme, and the atomic stars! I love it. I found two serving pieces and four dinner plates which have all since been listed in the Vintage Eve’s shop on Etsy.
DuraPrint was a rather interesting process. According to laurelhollowpark.com, DuraPrint was a design process in the 1950s where a bladder was filled with air, and the design was basically smooshed on to a piece as the bladder was inflated. The paint was forced through holes in a thin metal plate that was attached to the bladder, which then “stamped” the piece that was being decorated (Robbinsnest). I think it lead to a number of flaws, however, as the pieces I saw had some smears and missing spots. But they were not kidding about the name.
Those pieces that I put in the shop are just as bright as if they were done yesterday. After the design was put on, a clear glaze went on top. Because the design was under the glaze, they stayed looking new. Interestingly, this process only worked on the flatter pieces. Sugar bowls, creamers, etc., were one solid color with no design because they were too round to work with the DuraPrint process.
So that’s DuraPrint. I hope you enjoyed this short look at an old process. I do love old china and dishware, especially the bowls — you know I do! Have a great week everyone!
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!
Over the course of time I have seen and heard of Flow Blue. It’s a type of transferware that was very popular in the early and mid-1800s and is still highly collectible. According to Collectors Weekly, Flow Blue pottery began showing up in the 1820s in Staffordshire England. It was created when lime or ammonia was added to the kiln during the glazing process. The chemical caused the blue transferware to run and blur which many people found desirable.
I, personally, love many of the Flow Blue patterns; I find them very pretty and unique. I didn’t, however, realize there were other colors until I ran across these amazing saucers.
In researching them, I could see they are marked “Wedgwood” and “Pearl Stone Ware.” They are also marked “Washington Vase” which turns out to be the pattern name. But these are not Flow Blue, they are Flow Black! And gorgeous!
These date back to about 1860, so they are over 150 years old. There was a bit of yellowing on a couple of them but you can see one that I believe was the original color. It was a white glaze with a black transfer that was “blurred” in the creation of the Flow Black pattern. The earliest Flow Black Washington Vase was done by a company named Podmore, Walker & Company (PW & Co.) which then became Wedgwood around the 1860s when Enoch Wedgwood became the senior partner during the acquisition of PW & Co.
You will see the PW & Co. mark on Washington Vase from the early 1800s and then around 1860 you will see it marked Wedgwood using the same backstamp, an oval and ribbon. Pearl Stone Ware, which is the other mark on these saucers, was marketed by PW & Co. as a more durable earthenware, being fired at a higher temperature. Since these particular saucers managed to hang in there for 150 years, I guess that it is pretty strong!!
You will sometimes see Flow Black referred to as Mulberry. I saw black but perhaps others see a slightly maroon tinge.
I hope you have enjoyed learning about this beautiful transferware and will be able to identify it when you see it. It’s very collectible! If you have any stories about your Flow Black or Flow Blue, leave me a comment. Have a great week!
If you’ve written a blog for any length of time, it is hard to keep track of all the things you’ve talked about. Luckily, I can do a search, which is what I did today to make sure I hadn’t covered what I wanted to talk about today. I was honestly surprised to realize I haven’t done a post on Homer Laughlin! It’s one of those companies that has given us some really well-known lines.
I myself have a number of Homer Laughlin pieces in my shop. The piece above and the piece below, both Homer Laughlin.
This company is actually still in business today which is commendable considering they rode out the Great Depression, recession and other economic issues that have taken down any number of great pottery houses. They began in 1871 on the banks of the Ohio River in Liverpool, Ohio. A lot of potteries started in Ohio during the turn of twentieth century.
According to the Homer Laughlin website, the Laughlin Brothers, Homer and Shakespeare, wanted to make quality china at a fair price. They started out making yellow ware and stoneware. In 1873, the town of East Liverpool kicked in $5,000 (a lot of money in those days!) to build a “white ware plant which was still to be known as the Laughlin Brothers.” (Lehner, 1988, p. 245).
By 1903 they had outgrown their factory and expanded to Newell Farm in West Virginia which was just across the Ohio River. They also began the framework for what was to become the town of Newell. So definitely an important company to that area of West Virginia!
They landed some government contracts supplying hotelware known as “double thick” in both WWI and WWII. In 1949 they started to produce hotelware full time. This includes products for the restaurant and food service business. That market is still a large part of their business today. Their Best China, a vitrified china product, puts them in the top 3 leaders in this field (Lehner, 1988, p. 245).
They continued to expand through the 1930s when in 1936 they introduced a line of china that became a huge success. Any guesses? Fiesta!! Yes Homer Laughlin is the maker of Fiesta ware. Fiesta was made in a bold range of colors with some really unique designs. Fiesta has many collectors that seek out the vintage pieces. It was discontinued in 1973 but then reintroduced in 1986. The colors are slightly different on the new pieces so it can be difficult to determine old and new but the marking will be different. Check out this section on Laurel Hollow Park on identifying them.
Interesting fact…from 1943 to 1959 the most popular Fiesta color, Fiesta Red, was not produced due to government control of the depleted uranium that went into making the color. During the 40s and 50s the color choices of Fiesta were forest green, chartreuse, grey and rose.
Apparently Fiesta Red was a complicated color to produce because when most of the original technicians who worked on producing the color retired by 1972, the new manufacturing processes could not reproduce the color and they decided, rather than make an inferior product, they would stop producing it. By 1973 all Fiesta production ceased.
There are A LOT of different backstamps identifying Homer Laughlin. Check out Lehner’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Marks on Pottery, Porcelain & Clay for a comprehensive list. Some of their lines include Sunrise, Zylco, Kenmark, Royal, Priscilla, Swing and many, many more.
Homer Laughlin China has innovated over the years becoming a multi-generational employer. They worked hard to introduce some green production, and actually have always produced and manufactured what they sell. I loved learning their story and sharing it with you. Hats off to one of the remaining great American potteries!
I will be partying at the blogs to the right all week, please join me if you have some time. Have a great week!
Hall China Company. I see so many pieces with the Hall or Hall’s mark and for good reason; they have been in business since August 14, 1903! And they are still in business! There are so few companies that have lasted that long that they deserve a little fame.
Hall China Company is one of those companies that came out of Ohio. They were started at East Fourth and Walnut Streets in East Liverpool, Ohio. According to one of my favorite sources, “Lehner’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Marks on Pottery, Porcelain & Clay” by Lois Lehner, the company was founded by Robert Hall and his son, Robert T. Hall. Unfortunately, the elder Hall died in 1904!
Originally the company made whiteware from 1905 to 1911. This helped get the company off the ground. Robert T. Hall wanted more for the company, though. He had an idea that proved to be the product that made the company stand out above the rest. He developed a new glaze that was “single fire, non-lead, hard, non-porous and craze proof” (Lehner, 1988, p. 187). They called this their “Secret Process.”
From this point in 1914, they began to grow and expand quite a lot. They got into cookware such as casseroles, teapots and coffee urn liners (for industrial uses). In 1919 they bought the Goodwin Pottery Plant to make decorated teapots. They were soon the leader in teapots. In 1920 Robert T. Hall passed away and Malcolm W. Thompson took over.
They continued to grow acquiring other plants until in 1930 they abandoned all the other buildings and moved into a large facility which they added to 8 times over the years. It is the facility they still use and encompasses 12 acres!
As time marched on, their lines grew. There is Hall Fireproof China which covers casseroles and other baking dishes, teapots, coffee pots, serving dishes and storage dishes. Many of these pieces have been produced for the industrial/restaurant sectors. Hall’s Superior Quality, like the piece at the top of this post, was available through stamp stores and large merchandising centers.
Super-Ceram is their’s, too. It’s a tough, white ceramic. There are over 100 marks associated with Hall China Co. They help to identify them as made for the railroads, airlines, restaurants and stores like Montgomery Wards, Sears and Roebuck and the Jewell Tea Company. At one point they even had a partnership with Longaberger Baskets. They are now joined with Homer Laughlin China under the HLC Inc. umbrella.
As you can see, Hall China Co. knew how to stay in business. They diversified and managed to make a good product which they moved through many different venues. If you can get your hands on Lehner’s book, she has an extensive number of marks for identifying years of manufacture. I don’t receive any monetary compensation for recommending her book, it’s just a great resource.
If you have any stories of a favorite Hall China piece, leave me a comment. I love hearing from everyone! Please join me at the link parties on the right and have a great week!
Buenilum. If you can say that 10 times fast you should get an award! It does not exactly trip off the tongue. It is, however, an important name from the last century. As I am always on the look out for cool vintage pieces for the shop, hammered aluminum with that mid-century vibe catches my eye. Over the last year I’ve picked up this piece …
And this one, too…
Buenilum is a brand name of the Buehner-Wanner Company. It was produced from the 1930s through the 1960s when the the company was sold to Pfaltzgraff in 1969.
One of the owners, Frederick Buehner, was a craftsman from Germany. He had studied at the Deutscher Werkbund which was an association of artists, craftsmen, architects and industrial designers. The other owner was Franz Wanner. The castle that is featured in their BW logo represents Buehner’s home town of Lindach and came into use around 1945.
The name “Buenilum” was a smash-up of Fredereick’s last name and aluminum. It wasn’t a new formulation for aluminum but a brand name for the BW Company. Many of these pieces have Pyrex liners so there has to be some connection there.
The company started in New York in an office near the 59th Street Bridge but eventually moved to Norwalk, Connecticut where they stayed until they closed for good in 1973.
There is not a lot of information on this company. I needed to use multiple sources to put this post together; each with just a little bit of info. I did want to highlight this company though, because a lot of their pieces epitomize the mid-century modern aesthetic. The hammered aluminum mixed with teak and other woods is, in my book, beautiful.
Thanks for stopping by. If you have any memories of Buenilum at your table growing up, please share! I will be on the link-parties to the right this week; if you have a second, check them out. Have a great week!
In my travels I recently picked up this beautiful divided dish. I love the shell handles and lovely ribbed design.
It went into the Vintage Eve’s Etsy shop today, but before I could do that, I needed to find out who manufactured it since it was unmarked. Turns out it was the Hazel-Atlas company. I have a few pieces in the shop by Hazel-Atlas like this jelly jar.
At one time in America, Hazel-Atlas was one of the largest glass manufacturers in the world. According to Collectors Weekly the company started out as Hazel Glass Company in 1885 and were making opal glass liners for Mason jar zinc caps.
Then in 1902 the company name was changed to Hazel-Atlas when they merged with the Atlas Glass Company of Washington, Pennsylvania. By this point, the company was a leader in making fruit jars, oil bottles and commercial glass containers for everything you can think of. Pickle jars, check. Vaseline jars, check. Need a snuff bottle, Hazel-Atlas was probably making it.
They also made a number of these containers in colors. Amber, blue, crystal, yellow. This is in part what led to their production of dinnerware and glassware, many of it known as Depression Glass today. Their first line of dinnerware was known as Ovide.
It was made in a transparent green or an opaque black, the black is above. Collectors Weekly says that another early pattern was called Ribbon. Moderntone was introduced in 1934 in cobalt and amethyst.
Then in 1936, Hazel-Atlas came out with Platonite, a sort of semi-opaque glass that is often mistaken for milk glass. Platonite could come in any color but are more often than not found in white with colored concentric rings that have been fired onto the white.
During the post-WWII years, they became popular for their fired-on patterns. Many of these were created by the Gay Fad Decorating Company. Collectors Weekly lists designs such as dancing sailors, hats, windmills, maple leaves, daisies, musical instruments and flying geese as all popular motifs. There are many more designs that can be checked out at Collectors Weekly.
The mark to look for is a large H with a small A under the “H’s” bar. This mark was used starting around 1923 (GlassBottleMarks.com).
Although this mark is found on many of their bottles, most of their Depression Glass bears no mark. It’s on the bottom of my jelly jar, but not the dish at the top of this post. Another line that Hazel-Atlas put out was kiddie ware that consisted of bowls, mugs and plates for children.
The company did well with the kiddie ware but they really did well with their kitchenware. They made mixing bowls, butter dishes, juicers (or reamers), among other things. They also made refrigerator dishes and Platonite stacking storage containers. They also made shakers.
I have been trying to track down what actually happened to the company. At this writing, I haven’t been able to do that. They were producing stuff that people were buying but in 1956, running 13 plants, the Continental Can Company purchased the firm. According to Archiving Wheeling the sale was contested and it took from 1956 to 1964 for the sale to be completed. After that, most of the factories were sold off and the Hazel-Atlas company ceased to exist.
So that is the story of the Hazel-Atlas Company. What once was is no more, however, they have produced some enduring pieces that are beautiful and functional. Such a great company and one that gave people work through the Great Depression. If you have a favorite Hazel-Atlas piece, let me know. I would love to hear about it. Also, check out the link parties on the right where I will be sharing my blog with other great bloggers this week. As always, have a great week!!
When I first started writing this blog, my first post was on my favorite bowls. I love bowls. I think I’ve established that in subsequent posts. In that first post, one of the bowls I showed was this one …
Robinson Ransbottom Bowl Girl With Watering Can circa 1930s
It will never be put up for sale in my shop because I love it too much. And here is the other set I love and will not part with. I had to wait 6 months from the time I found this set at “A Well Kept Secret” in Kingston, NH, to when it went on sale almost half off. From there I talked them down another $10 while I hoped against hope someone else didn’t scoop it up! Also, because it is my favorite set 😉
Robinson-Ransbottom Zephyr Mixing Bowl Set
Close up of relief on Zephyr mixing bowl
Can you see why I can’t part with them? How many sets do you see like this from the 1940s that are in great shape, no cracks or chips AND together like this? You don’t — so I’m keeping them. I sell many pieces of vintage pottery in the Vintage Eve’s Etsy shop, but this set will not be one of them. Below is a cool poultry fountain by Robinson Ransbottom. They have a rich history.
Robinson Ransbottom Pottery was started in 1920 in Roseville, OH. You have to go further back to understand where they actually started, though. According to a source I go back to frequently, Lehner’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Marks on Pottery, Porcelain and Clay (1988), it began further back in 1856 with Whitmore, Robinson and Company. From 1862 to 1900 this company made stoneware, yellowware, and Rockingham.
They then formed the Robinson-Merrill Company with the addition of the E.H. Merrill Company. By 1902 the company was called the Robinson Clay Products Company. Sometime during the year of 1920, the Ransbottom Brothers Pottery in Roseville, Ohio combined with Robinson Clay Products and viola Robinson-Ransbottom Pottery was born.
Let’s go back slightly. There were 4 Ransbottom brothers who founded a pottery in Ironspot, Ohio. They also ran a pottery in Saltillo, Ohio where they manufactured stoneware jars. In 1910 they combined all their efforts into the Roseville plant. By 1916, the Ransbottom Brothers Pottery were the number one maker of stoneware jars in the U.S. Not too shabby!
The Ransbottom Brothers Pottery also made jars for preserves, churns, milk pans or bowls, poultry fountains and other utilitarian items. Many times the Robinson-Ransbottom pieces are marked just “Roseville” which causes confusion among collectors. There is a different “Roseville” that people collect and it looks different, the colors are more matte and pastel. The Ransbottom pieces are high gloss for the most part. Look at this matching piece to my beloved bowls I found for sale at Etsy! It’s a small milk pitcher.
Well, Robinson Ransbottom had a nice long run, but unfortunately went out of business in 2005. And so is the history of another great company that employed hundreds of potters over the years. A number of their pieces seem to be unmarked having lost their paper stickers as time passed. I would recommend the Lehner’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Marks on Pottery, Porcelain and Clay (1988) to get a look at all the different marks they used; there are over 20. Check your library for the book or Amazon (which is where I got mine in perfectly used condition).
I hope you all have a great week! I will be partying at the link parties to the right this week. Check them out if you get the chance. And as always, leave me a note if you liked this post because I love to hear from everyone!
So I’ve told you all before that sometimes … just sometimes I have a hard time letting go of stuff that I find for the Vintage Eve’s store. Well, this was one of those items. If you have been following me for any length of time, you will also know that bowls are my weakness. I don’t get it either, but there it is. But let’s just take a minute to admire the beauty of the bowl below.
I know, right?!! It’s perfect and it’s now sitting on my kitchen table; 1930s, Universal Potteries, Inc. Morning Glory mixing bowl. Take a look at that pic collage, though. Do you see the pottery mark from the bottom of the bowl? It says, among other things, National Brotherhood of Operative Potters. Never heard of it? Me either until I purchased this bowl. So you know I had to find out who they were. Here is the story.
According to the Kent State Library, The National Brotherhood of Operative Potters (NBOP) is associated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL/CIO). The Brotherhood was founded in 1890 around East Liverpool, Ohio.
The NBOP were unhappy with the dominance of the eastern unionists in the Trenton, New Jersey area. During that time, the early 1900s, these potteries set up in areas rich in fuel, clay and water. The University Library states that there were 2 major areas of potteries and they were Trenton, NJ and East Liverpool, OH. The Trenton potters dominated the industry through the Civil War. The pottery workers had already started unionizing to protect their skilled positions “as early as 1862.” (Library Kent).
So in 1890 the first convention of the NBOP started a push towards developing an organization that would protect and benefit potters’ interests. It definitely helped Ohio’s potteries grow to be the producer of 25% of total production. New Jersey’s share of that production was slipping.
The NBOP was successful in gaining members and changing labor-management relationships during those early years.The University Library says that they formed 5 locals in those early years: “Local Union One in Toronto, Ohio; Local Union Two in New Cumberland, West Virginia; Local Union Three in Kittanning, Pennsylvania; Local Union Four in East Liverpool, Ohio; and Local Union Five in Findlay, Ohio.”
They eventually merged the Eastern and Western factions to form a truly national union. They managed to secure a uniform wage contract by 1911. Over the next 30 years they went through their ups and downs. During the time I’ve been writing this blog, we’ve read that many potteries went under due to cheap foreign imports, however during the Progressive and WWI years, foreign imports were greatly reduced in the U.S., thereby increasing demand for domestic wares.
Between that increase and the government’s leniency toward labor, the NBOP membership increased. They were able to change sanitary and wage agreements within the industry getting higher wages for their members and checking unskilled workers dangerously operating machinery. But as things happen, the country began to swing the other way after the war.
There were strikes in 1921 and 1922 that caused people to disaffiliate with the NBOP. Over the next few years, they elected James Duffy into office and he began to strengthen the organization. They continued to go through ups and downs but their membership grew, changing their name in 1951 to the International Brotherhood of Operative Potters (IBOP). So any pieces marked NBOP were before 1951.
Through the years it also became the International Brotherhood of Allied Workers including unskilled, semi-skilled and non-ceramic groups to increase membership. This happened in 1969. There is more information but for the purposes of this post, this is where I’ll leave off. For more information on the subject, please visit the Kent University Library website which also lists a book that goes more in depth.
It’s an interesting history to be sure. So although pieces carry the NBOP mark, the pottery where the piece was made was just a part of this organization. In the case of my bowl, it was made by Universal Potteries, Inc. which was part of the larger organization. When you are trying to identify a piece through the mark, look closely to figure out which pottery company actually made the piece.
As usual, I will be partying all week at the awesome blogs on the right. Check them out if you have a chance. Thanks for visiting and drop me a note to tell me about a piece you just love too much to give up! Have a great week!!