Noritake From the Beginning

I hope you have been enjoying this summer. Well, here it is summer. It’s been very hot and humid this year in southern New Hampshire, but life is good. Since we only really have three or four months of warm weather, I’ll take it!

As always, I have been on the hunt for new things to add to the Vintage Eve’s shop this summer. I’ve come across some nice pieces, too! I am definitely drawn to fine china. It’s part of my obsession with vintage kitchen stuff (as if you couldn’t tell from reading this blog), but that’s why I have the shop — to support my habit, which in turn allows me to buy more. It’s a circle.

I happen to have a few pieces by Noritake and I was wondering the other day how long they have been in business. So, here we go.

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Noritake Vegetable Serving Bowl in Pasadena Pattern circa 1960s

Noritake started as a trading company in 1876. According to Noritakechina.com it was the baby of the Morimura brothers. Ichizaemon Morimura decided to open an export business, mainly to keep money flowing into his country, and he sent his brother, Toyo, to New York to open Morimura Brothers, an import business. Very smart really. Morimura Brothers imported china and other items for sale in the U.S., exported by the other brother, Ichizaemon (Noritake.co.jp).

In Noritake, a small suburb of Nagoya, Japan, a factory was created in 1904, particularly to create fine porcelain dinnerware to export to the United States. It didn’t happen until 1914, though, that they were able to accomplish this feat. There was a lot of trial and error to get a dinnerware line that could be exported.

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Noritake Cho Cho San Gravy Boat circa 1950s

Most of their designs were hand-painted in the beginning with a liberal addition of gold embellishment. As they grew, they perfected their manufacturing techniques and Noritake took off. Noritake china is now sold world-wide. Originally, the brand was called “Nippon Toki Gomei Kaisha,” which eventually became Noritake Company, Limited.

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Flat Boullion Cups Rochambeau Pattern circa 1920s

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Their backstamps, or porcelain marks, vary greatly. The earliest one is a circle with a “Maruki Mark,” dating to 1902. There is also a “Royal Sometuke NIPPON” mark that dates to 1906. One registered mark in 1908 is an “RC” underlined over a fulcrum with “Noritake” underneath. There is an extensive list of marks with pictures at http://www.noritakecollectorsguild.info/bstamps/. Check them out.

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Noritake Cho Cho San Trio circa 1950s

It was very interesting that two brothers started this company, and that it is still in business. The company managed to diversify into many different fields, which served them well. Along with fine china, the company currently creates grinding wheels for various industries, their printing and color mixing techniques are used in technology, including automobiles, and their engineering techniques are used in yet other areas of industry. They survived during the Occupation years after WWII, and continued to create and diversify into present day.

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Noritake Fine China Back Stamp circa 1950s

I hope you enjoyed learning about this company with its rich history. Japan itself is a beautiful country. My daughter recently returned from a school trip there, and her pictures are amazing.

I hope that you enjoy the rest of your summer (if it’s summer where you are!). I will enjoy the roughly 60 days before it turns colder here, although, I’m more a fan of Autumn in New Hampshire, anyway. If you’ve never experienced a Fall in New Hampshire, with the burst of oranges, golds, and reds, it’s amazing, and only lasts a month, maybe a month and a half if you’re lucky. I’m hoping for a long Autumn before the snow flies. Have a great week!

 

Vernon Kilns’ Deep Roots

Now this is an interesting history! I love these bowls I picked up for the shop a few months ago. Aren’t they pretty?! I love the design.

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Vernon Kilns Hibiscus Lugged Chowder Bowls (available at Vintage Eve’s)

Well, these particular bowls are from a company I had never heard of before I found these. They are by a pottery known as Vernon Kilns, out of Vernon, California. I say the history is interesting because I’m going to back it up to a period just before Vernon Kilns came into existence.

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Vernon Kilns Butter Dish May Flower (available at Coming Around Again)

According to “Collectible Vernon Kilns” by Maxine Feek Nelson, the beginning of the story starts with 2 brothers, Robert and James Furlong. They lived in Ireland and set out to find their fortune in the California Gold Rush in about 1848.

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Vernon Kilns Lei Lani Pitcher & Glasses (available at Mid Century Kind of Mood)

The weird thing is that they set out separately and somehow they managed to find each other in San Francisco a few years later. They actually found gold, unlike some unlucky souls who searched for years and found nothing. They decided to settle in Bakersfield, California, as ranchers and sent for their wives in Ireland.

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Vernon Kilns Plaid Coffee Pot Homespun Line (available at Alveta Vintage Items)

When Robert’s wife, Martha, arrived, they decided to move to Southern California and bought a ranch in Vernon, a town with a population of a few hundred people. It was a pretty good sized ranch where they raised their 4 children, Tom, James, Annie and Judith.

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Vernon Kilns Rockwell Kent Our America Transferware Commemorative Plate (available at Well Picked)

Tom and James became leaders of their community and well into the 20th century kept their hand in the government of Vernon. It was Judith where the Vernon Kilns piece of this gets going. As she grew up and became a teacher, a guy over in England with relatives in the pottery business set out for the States. His name was George J.W.(Wade) Poxon.

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Vernon Kilns Rio Vista Coffee Pot (available at Memories to Restore)

He worked his way through the states once he got here visiting many potteries along the way, especially those in Ohio. Until, lo and behold, he found himself in Vernon and decided to buy the ranch adjacent to the Furlong ranch. There he met, fell in love with and wooed Judith into marriage.

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Vernon Kilns Carafe and Mug Set (available at Quince Cottage Home)

As he settled down into married life, the china company he had started the year before, Poxon China, began taking off. They eventually had 65 people working at Poxon. They started making tile but switched to heavy hotel restaurant ware with the onset of WWI. So what does this have to do with Vernon Kilns? I’m almost there.

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Poxon Bowl (Worthpoint)

Sometime in July of 1931 Poxon China, which had had a good run, was sold to Faye G. Bennison. Vernon, by this time, had become part of Los Angeles, CA. Bennison continued to produce many of the successful lines of the Poxon China Company until an earthquake in 1933 destroyed the molds. This meant they had to develop their own shapes.

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Metlox Poppy Trail Pitcher (available at DK Collectibles)

In the late 1940s they almost closed due to fires but they kept going. They actually did quite well until, in a story we’ve seen many times, a flood of foreign imports sank the company. Vernon Kilns sold out to Metlox in 1958. Metlox continued to use the Vernon Kilns shapes under the Vernonware line until 1989.

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Metlox Vernonware Ovoid Bowls (available at Vintage Pottery)

The Vernon Kilns products were made from clay from Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and England (Oocities.org). Many of their patterns were hand-painted.

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Metlox Poppy Trails Butter Dish (available at This and That 4 You)

So that is the story of Vernon Kilns. It started as one thing and ended as another. It didn’t have a long run, only 27 years. But since Vernon Kilns used Poxon molds and Metlox used Vernon Kilns molds, it can be difficult to tell from the shape which manufacturer you have when you are trying to date something.

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Vernon Kilns Disney Designed Dish or Planter (available at Butterfly Wing Vintage)

Am I the only person who found it amazing that 2 brothers managed to find each other in the Old West during the gold rush?! If it wasn’t for them settling in California and one of them moving to Vernon, this might have had a very different ending.

Join me at the link parties on the right this week! Do you have any Poxon or Vernon Kilns china? Tell me about it. I’d love to hear your story! Have a great week!

 

 

 

 

Fiesta at the Laughlins!

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.

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Homer Laughlin Creamer Hotel Ware Line (available at Vintage Eve’s)

I myself have a number of Homer Laughlin pieces in my shop. The piece above and the piece below, both Homer Laughlin.

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Homer Laughlin Ferndale Nautilus Salt & Pepper Shakers (available at Vintage Eve’s)

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.

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Homer Laughlin Art Pottery circa 1910 (available at Wild Crockophile)

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).

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Homer Laughlin Kwaker Rosewood 4 Piece Set circa 1920 (available at Lindsay Jane’s Cottage)

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!

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Homer Laughlin Riviera Sugar and Creamer circa 1930 (available at Antiques by Granny)

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).

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Homer Laughlin Best China Dishes (available at Mud in the USA)

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.

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Vintage Homer Laughlin Fiestaware (available at The Freckled Berry)

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.

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Homer Laughlin Fiesta Red Pitcher (available at Molto Belle)

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.

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Homer Laughlin Kitchen Kraft Covered Casserole Dish (available at Blue Plate Special 2005)

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.

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Homer Laughlin Harlequin Nut Bowls (available at Coleblk)

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!