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.
I’ve been adding a lot of glassware recently to the Vintage Eve’s shop when I realized I never did a post on Federal Glass. I did touch on it briefly in my post about Depression Glass but it deserves a post of its own.
In 1900, George and Robert J. Beatty, who came from a successful glass-making family, banded together with some other glass makers to start Federal Glass in Columbus, Ohio. At that time, they were only making tumblers and jellies.
By 1906 they had expanded their line to include bottles and jars. Mostly utilitarian stuff which was common around this time in a number of glass houses. By 1914 they were making some pressed glass pieces. According to the Glass Encyclopedia, many of their designs were from molds acquired from other companies.
They used a lot of designs that originated with US Glass Company such as “Peacock Feather,” “Kansas,” and “Caledonia” all of which were made originally by US Glass. Their glassware was still clear flint glass at this point, they hadn’t made any colored glass. Some other companies were using the same patterns as Federal during this time, too, which can be slightly confusing.
Around 1913, old catalogs show that they were also making items for groceries such as salt, pepper and spice shakers. They also made measuring jugs and other items. I was not able to track down a picture of the catalog but it’s out there somewhere.
During the early years they were plagued with union strikes from the flint workers. One strike lasted almost 2 years. They tried to keep their shop non-union while paying their workers more than most people in the business (www.FOHBC.org).
During the 1920s they continued to expand their lines into full tableware sets, colored glass, and more. By the 1920s and 1930s they were creating some patterns in Depression Glass that are looked for by collectors today. Some of those patterns are “Diana (1937-1941),” “Mayfair (1934),” “Parrot (1931-1932),” “Sharon,” and a number of others. One of their more popular designs in 1940s was the “Park Avenue.”
Around 1927 the Federal Glass mark started being used in catalogs. It is an “F” inside a shield. The mark itself was not registered until 1944.
From what I uncovered in my research, Federal Glass Company was good to its employees. When their employees returned from WWII, they were given back their jobs or received better ones, and they closed for a day to honor those who had died in the war.
In 1949, Corning Glass Works sued Federal saying they had infringed on 2 of their patents. Both patents were related to heat-treated glass they used in their tumblers under the “STURDEE” name. It took 6 years to bring to trial and was dismissed as unfounded in 1956. Then there was a company named “Federal Glass Company” in Dover, Delaware that Federal Glass sued asking them to stop using the “Federal” name. The Ohio Federal Glass won and was awarded the right to rename the Delaware company (www.FOHBC.org).
They were quite prosperous through the 1950s and 1960s. So why did they go out of business? One reason, according to FOHBC, is that a lot of their business was wrapped up in premiums that gas stations gave away. When the gas shortages hit in the early 1970s, their business took a $5 million hit. Then the Federal Paper Board, with whom they had merged in 1957, decided to sell the glass division to Lancaster Colony. That sale didn’t go through.
After a lot of back and forth, Lancaster tried again but wanted the right to reduce wages and remove pensions. The results were that in 1979 they ceased making glass. FOHBC goes into a lot more detail on what caused the complete collapse such as the wide-spread use of plastics and more. They had made it through the Great Depression but after 79 years in business, the doors closed.
Well, that is a quick look at the Federal Glass Company. They made some great and enduring pieces that we still love today. I hope you enjoyed reading and remember to join me at the link parties on the right this week! Have a great week!
I love Mid-Century Modern. In fact, my dream is to have a house filled with Mid-Mod furniture. Not sure if I’ll ever get that dream fulfilled but it’s out there. It definitely sells well in the Vintage Eve’s shop.
What I like about Mid-Century Modern are the lines of the furniture and other items that came out of this era and while it can be said that Danish Modern is part of the Mid-Century Modern movement, not all Mid-Century Modern is Danish Modern. So what exactly is Danish Modern?
Danish Modern started in the early part of the 20th century. According to Collectors Weekly, the grandfather of Danish Modern is considered to be Kaare Klint. He was a founder of the furniture school at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen around 1924. Klint believed that we didn’t need to reinvent furniture, just change the lines to give it a more modern look. Many of Klint’s followers were trained as architects which explains the architectural lines to the furniture.
Danish Modern is a period of time that runs from the 1930s to the 1970s. Collectors Weekly says it really took off post-WWII, though. It sort of grew out of the Bauhaus movement which used geometric design and art. This movement was about showing the structure, not hiding it. Danish Modern used these tenets.
Another designer that was big in the Danish Modern movement was Arne Jacobsen. He was the creator of the Ant chair. It had 3 metal legs and was made out of a single piece of plywood. Danish Modern is all about keeping the materials real. They wanted people to see the structure of the furniture.
He is also the guy who developed the Egg chair in 1958. The chair completely enveloped the sitter creating its own mini interior space around them. It was very sculptural. The material used in Danish Modern design was of the highest quality while still appealing to the middle class.
One of the materials that you will see a lot of in Danish Modern design is teak and other woods. Teak done right can be beautiful, as well as functional. It’s lightweight, too. Another wood was rosewood — paired with steel or other metals it gives these pieces their distinctive look. These items were always meant to appeal to the masses. Although they were made with the best of materials, they were meant to be mass produced for the middle class. The pieces were not just modern in line but also very functional for family life.
According to Andrew Hollingsworth in “For the Love of Danish Modern Furniture” (Collectors Weekly, Keane & Monte), the reason Danish Modernism came to an end was progress. New ways of making furniture with colorful molded plastics, the late 60s and 70s, quality of materials declining to meet the demands of lower prices, all sort of converged to bring about the end of the movement.
It’s definitely a look you either love or hate. I happen to love it, but many older people who grew up with it hate it. Go figure! Well, that is Danish Modern in a nutshell. Collectors Weekly has a great article on it for more in depth info. Have a great week and join me in the link parties to the right!
Oh my! It has been a whirlwind month! An exchange student from Japan came to our home and for two and a half weeks, shared her culture with us as we shared ours. It was an experience that I know our family will never forget. It was an awesome 2 1/2 weeks and I was surprised how much we missed her when she left. I say all of this to explain my absence for the last few weeks. Along with other obligations the blog has been a little neglected!
But here we are, together again and I would like to take a look at a prolific importer and designer of the mid-century, Holt-Howard. Their designs, like these cat S&P shakers, started off my small S&P collection. Here are the cats …
And some more of my collection. These are not for sale in the shop, because I love them too much!
The cats actually have a meowing canister in them so when you turn them upside down they meow. They don’t meow anymore, but they would have back in the day. Holt-Howard imported, designed and sold a lot of these cute items using cats, pixies and other animals. They started back in 1949 when John and Robert Howard and Grant Holt started the company.
According to Kovels the company started selling Christmas items made and sold in the U.S. Holt-Howard was originally based in New York City and moved to Stamford, Connecticut in 1955. Over the years they were sold a couple of times before closing in the 1990s. During their heyday, though, they produced different lines that are well-known in the vintage world.
As I said, they started with U.S. made goods but soon turned to overseas manufacturing to keep costs low. Some of their U.S. made Christmas stuff included the winking Santa and Merry Whiskers beverage sets.
As their manufacturing moved overseas, they began to produce sort of cartoon type figures made into useful kitchen/household items. One of their lines was Pixieware. These are brightly colored kitchen items like the ones below.
This line was produced from about 1958 to the early 1960s. Many of the condiment jars are pretty easy to find but some of them are rarer than others. Those ones are the honey or chili sauce jars and there is also one for instant coffee (ahh can’t you just smell the Sanka!).
The Pixieware line also included Spoofy Spoons, liquor decanters, salt and pepper sets, teapots and more. Another line was the Cozy Cats and Kittens line. That’s where my S&P shakers come in. In this line there were all sorts of things from string holders to ashtrays, spice sets and grease crocks.
They also produced the Exotic Rooster Line. I personally love roosters and during the 50’s and 60s they were very popular for decoration. Holt-Howard’s Red Rooster Coq Rouge dinnerware line, introduced in the 1960s, was designed by Bob Howard. This line was carried through the 1970s in finer department stores.
Holt-Howard was copied by any number of copy cats. ThoughtCo., another blog, has a list of these copy cats and how to tell the difference between the knock offs and the real HH.
As the years wore on, Holt-Howard was bought by General Housewares Corporation in 1968. By 1974 the Howard brothers and Holt had left to follow other dreams. The company was then again sold to Kay Dee Designs of Rhode Island in 1990. In fact Grant Holt and John Howard formed another company called Grant-Howard Associates which produced Pixieware pieces but nothing from the original Holt-Howard Pixieware line.
I love the Holt-Howard pieces myself. Whimsical and fun but with a definite mid-century look. The pieces today just don’t capture the same look. Well, I hope you have enjoyed this post. Have a great week and look for me at the link parties on the right all 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!
Look at this lovely little kitty paperweight I picked up one day while picking up stuff for the shop! It’s got the sweetest little face!
I was really excited when I turned it over and saw the “Baccarat” crystal name and insignia etched on the bottom. Baccarat is an old name in fine crystal. Originally known as Baccarat Glass, the company was founded in 1765 by the Bishop of Metz. According to Crystal Art USA the Bishop wanted to “encourage industry” in the village of Baccarat which is about 250 miles east of Paris, France.
The primary industry in the village was making utility glassware like windows, bottles, tableware, etc. and they did well for a long time. The business survived through the French Revolution (1789) but Crystal Art USA says the company struggled through the Napoleonic Wars (1812-1815).
When Aime-Gabriel D’Artiques, the owner of Vonech glassworks, suddenly found his company outside of France in the newly formed Belgium after the Napoleonic Wars, he bought Baccarat so he could have his company in France again. He didn’t want to pay heavy import taxes so this worked for his French customers.
The new Voneche-Baccarat company did well focussing on high-quality lead-crystal glass. D’Artiques sold the glassworks in 1822 and the Compagnie des Cristalleries de Baccarat came into existence. Crystal Art USA says that the name Voneche was left attached to the company until 1843.
It became and has stayed one of the foremost makers of glass in France winning medals in Paris from 1823 up. Baccarat is particularly known for their crystal paperweights (like my little kitty). They are well-known for their beautiful decanters and bottles, also for figurines. According to the New York Times, Baccarat crystal completed its first royal commission of crystal glasses for Louis XVIII in 1823. This commission, it is said, started the fashion for using different glasses for different beverages.
Baccarat has continued since that time to become innovators in their field. They have perfected techniques and have a reputation for creating beautiful crystal glassware, as well as for being excellent, caring employers. The town of Baccarat depends on this glasswork company as their major source of business and jobs.
Believe it or not, the company is now under the leadership of an American investment firm, Starwood Capital and Catterton Partners. It’s amazing how small the world is in this global market place! That is the way the world is changing, to which this company that started as a small village industry can attest. I always find this stuff so interesting!
I hope you learned something you didn’t know before and take this with you. I love learning and find something each week that I didn’t know before. Leave me a comment if you get a chance! I will be partying at the great blogs on the right side of the screen this week. Check them out, there’s so much to learn from each of them. Have a great week!
The year was … well I’m not sure of the exact year but it was some time in the mid-1920’s. That was when a type of inexpensive glass began to be mass produced for the American table.
It was meant to be cheap enough that everyone could have pieces of it in their home. In fact, some of it was given away as premiums. You could purchase a product and you could get a bowl or a cup with it (like finding the decoder ring in the box of cereal or an N’Sync CD for you 90’s people). It was used as a way to gain product loyalty.
According to the National Depression Glass Association the colors it came in ranged from crystal (clear), amber, yellow, pink, green and blue with amber and yellow being the most mass-produced. There are a couple of colors that had very short runs and therefore are the ones that command the highest prices from the collectors.
Those colors are tangerine (created by the Heisey Company) and a lavender that a couple of companies tried but did not sell well.
Depression glass is a fairly thin glass because, don’t forget it was supposed to be inexpensive. Many times there are rough edges on it where the glass squeezed out of the mold and was not ground off in the finishing process. There is also a distinction between “Depression Glass” and “Elegant Glass.” Depression Glass was a basic glass that had maybe a simple pattern like lines or “ribs” or a flat-panel type design that was created with the mold. Elegant Glass, however can have intricate designs etched into the glass after it came out of the mold.
Elegant Glass usually has a smoother finish along the edges as the time was taken to grind down seams so it sat flush on the table. Elegant Glass of course, was a little more expensive.
They also say that ““Elegant Glass”, [w]as produced by such companies as Westmoreland Glass Company, Imperial Glass Company, Fostoria Glass Company, A. H. Heisey & Company, and others.”
As far as patterns, they are too numerous to list. The two sites quoted in this post are the best places to start if you are researching a pattern.
By the end of the depression less than 50 companies were producing the glass but it has become highly collectible. The green, pink and blue seem to be the most collected today, with the lavender and tangerine being rare but desired by most collectors.
I hope you have enjoyed this very small overview of Depression Glass. I find the history of it fascinating, myself. Since it was rather thin and cheap, it is amazing that pieces still exist, but they do. Take a look at the other sites I’ve quoted in this post for more information.
If you are looking for some Depression Glass or any other vintage items, take a look in my store Vintage Eve’s.