To begin with, who was Russel Wright?

Is the person behind the design more interesting than the design? In this case, I would say yes. The life of Russel Wright was a journey that led to Manitoga. His daughter, Annie, maintains that property today.
Enjoy this from the blog, Returning to Manitoga by Lara Allen.

Returning to Manitoga

RW Family with Ann and Mary Russel and Mary Wright with daughter Annie. ca 1951 (photo credit: unknown photographer, courtesy Manitoga, Inc.)

Russel Wright (1904-1976) was an American designer whose designs appear in the permanent collections of  MOMACooper-Hewitt, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wright is often thought of as one of the first industrial designers and was active in the field from the 1920-1960s. By 1958, his American Modern dinnerware line  had sold over 250 million pieces.[1]

RW at desk Russel Wright in his NYC Studio (photo credit: photographer unknown, courtesy Manitoga, Inc.)

While Wright may be remembered for his tableware, his work stretched beyond the bounds of one product or one line. He and his wife/business partner Mary Wright applied design to an entire lifestyle, paving the road for the likes of Martha Stewart and Ralph Lauren.[2] The Wrights’ approach was collected in their book, “Guide to Easier Living

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Every Plate Tells a Story

Marion by Mayer China

At the turn of the last century, the potteries along the Ohio River were working overtime to fulfill rapidly increasing orders – bricks for streets, clay products for drainage, durable toilet wares and dinnerware. The potteries had developed new production methods and importantly for consumers, white ware replaced yellow ware. There was a celebratory air in the potteries shared by all.

Glass and Pottery Salesman 1921

In Beaver Falls, the annual holiday loaf was brief. Indeed, the customary holiday inactivity which extended from December 24 to January 3 gave way to a short holiday break. The economic boom was no less evident on the streets of cities. Two entrepreneurs,  Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart, opened a luncheonette in Philadelphia automated equipment imported from Germany. City workers with little time for lunch filled the restaurants – they claimed one out of sixteen people ate once a day in a Horn & Hardart.

Two entrepreneurs,  Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart, opened a luncheonette in Philadelphia with automated equipment. City workers with little time for lunch filled the restaurants.  Soon, Horn & Hardart prepared food for carry-out by the consumer.

The owners did not cut corners – they offered fresh food prepared carefully. In The Automat: Birth of a Fast Food Nation, Christopher Klein writes:

While Horn & Hardart Automats delivered food quickly, meals were made from scratch using fresh, high-quality ingredients. Items were prepared shortly before they were eaten, and food was not allowed to linger overnight. Freshly squeezed orange juice that sat for two hours was poured down the drain.

Back along the Ohio River, Mayer China was producing Marion for the new automats in New York. Marion is an Art Deco teal transferware pattern. The simple design is charming, but not cloying. It is warm and comfortable not commercial.

The resplendent surroundings of the Horn & Hardart Automats—with marble counters and floors, stained glass, chrome fixtures, ornately carved ceilings and Art Deco signage—more resembled Parisian bistros than sterile, dingy fast food outlets. Food was served on real china and eaten with solid flatware.                                      Automat: Birth of a Fast Food Nation

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An American Classic: Diner Coffee Mug

Classic, curvy, heavy and durable coffee mug. The kind used in the local diner for years. From that less than glamorous beginning, mugs like these have become icons of the past. They were made to endure over time – in short, they don’t make them like this anymore.
– The lines were hand drawn – no two mugs are the same.
– Not poured into a mold, hand-fashioned on a wheel
– Vitrified by high temps, fired at 2200 degrees, the glaze fuses with the clay to form glass – resistant to stains, safe for the dishwasher.
– Because of the weight and thickness, this mug will keep your hot beverage warm for just a bit longer.

Produced by Sterling China Wellsville Ohio in the 1930s; the stamp is very early.

Condition: This is a beauty. Very light wear on the bottom rim; glaze is gorgeous. A keeper.

Measurement: 3 3/4″ H. x 3 3/8″ D. x 4 1/2″ Overall Width including handle

Weight: 1.25 pounds

 

Available at http://etsy.me/2f9xlKg

A Little Romance

How many times do we answer, “I just do not have the time.” So why not keep it simple?

Bits and pieces that easily set the mood. Perhaps, even, motivate to make some time?

Like a tablecloth. Vintage Quaker Lace, for instance, was produced for the modern family – ease of laundering, forget about ironing. Launder – and it is ready for tonight – and many evenings to come.

Easy Care Quaker Lace, Gala

 

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Classic Restaurant Ware – The Green Crest Border

If there is one pattern that defines restaurant ware then perhaps, a green crest border would find a place in the top three patterns. But still, it is not easy to find in quantity these days. But sometimes, a tall stack of these old diner dishes appears in a dusty old basement or the back room of a restaurant. Like these. . . . stacks and stacks of plates.

Green Crest Restaurant Ware

 

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Ohio Valley Pottery: A Bowl is a Bowl is a . . .

Ohio Valley Pottery: A Bowl is a Bowl is a . . .

Russel Wright, White Salad Bowl, Steubenville Pottery ca. 1950s

Not a true statement. In my mind, there are bowls – and then there are bowls. Sometimes, bowls take on very interesting shapes. Even production pieces like those made at Steubenville Pottery for the American Modern line of dinnerware designed by Russel Wright. This bowl is a vessel that seems to cradle all that it holds. Sometimes it looks like an open hand …it is a curve that does not stop…

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Bailey-Walker China: Blue and White Ironstone

Bailey-Walker China: Blue and White Ironstone

Blue and White Ironstone, Bailey-Walker China, ca. 1930s

Sometimes I look through a stack of plates with amazement. Really? Seventy-five years old? These plates are really that old? How in the world did they produce millions of plates, literally in the case of Bailey-Walker China Company and at the end of the day, have a quality product. As one writer has put it, the plates are “bullet proof.”   I believe it might have something to do with the fact…

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Vintage Restaurant Ware: A Sentimental Journey

Vintage Restaurant Ware: A Sentimental Journey

Hotel Lafayette, Warwick China

Certainly restaurant ware was not produced to fill emotional needs. In fact these wares fulfilled highly practical needs for commercial accounts such as durability including chip resistance and heat resistance. The rounded edges of restaurant ware resisted chipping unlike dinnerware produced for homes. Later, large manufacturers like Syracuse developed dinnerware that saved space as kitchens…

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Spring Cleaning Tip: How to Clean Rugs

Spring Cleaning Tip: How to Clean Rugs

Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis's Cook Book

Last week, I rolled up a rug in the dining room. I was appalled at all of the dust and dirt under the rug. Really shocked … As luck would have it, I had been reading an old book of household hints that predates Hints from Heloise by fifty years. I remembered the section,  “How to Clean a Rug.” Notice that it is a man swinging that rug beater. No wonder  … there is no advice on how to find…

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April Showers, Spring Flowers and Dandelion Bouquets

April Showers, Spring Flowers and Dandelion Bouquets

IMG_4996

Already April. Spring. Since the last post describing the world as our marketplace, we have been a little overwhelmed with the response. Such an honor it is.  The wares produced here in the Ohio Valley that once moved up and down the mighty Ohio River are now making their way across the globe via our little post office and then onto planes and trucks. Already it is spring. It is raining – April…

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