Restaurant Ware: Warwick China Company, Wheeling, West Virginia

WarwickChina-1936sm

Warwick China Company enjoyed a long history – over sixty years producing decorative pieces, fine dinnerware and finally, vitrified china. According to their catalog ca. 1940s, they produced “Vitrified China for Hotels, Clubs, Restaurants, Institutions, Steamships, Railroads, and Hospitals.”  No doubt, their entry into china production for commercial accounts was one way in which the Warwick China Company hoped to keep the kilns firing and so many residents of Wheeling employed. After all, Wheeling was one of the great manufacturing centers in the nineteenth century. Sadly, this manufacturer closed in doors in 1951.

Warwick had produced some of the most beautiful china – highly decorated and complex pieces. They were one of the few American potteries to attempt the manufacture of flow blue. Their expertise was well known in the pottery world. Wheeling of course possessed all of the natural assets necessary to produce, market and ship wares. The chamber of commerce of Wheeling announced that Wheeling was at the crossroads for manufacturing and shipping. Most American pottery was manufactured in the Ohio Valley along the mighty Ohio River. And as a consequence, Wheeling certainly played an important part in the history of Ohio River Pottery.

Map from Chamber of Commerce Brochure

Map from Chamber of Commerce Brochure

During one of my last pottery hunts, I was surprised by a mark on a plate I had flipped. The platter is back stamped Warwick Pottery – no date code nor date. Only the manufacturers name. I noticed the ridges formed by hand by an expert potter. The amount of clay,  the support offered by the footed bottom and the process of vitrification virtually ensured a long life for a piece of pottery. This piece was no exception.

Back Stamp, Warwick Vitrified China Platter with Double Black Line (L277)

Back Stamp, Warwick Vitrified China Platter with Double Black Line (L277)

Of course, the top of plate is equally fascinating . . . this platter produced by Warwick China has double black lines. Not the classic double green line that I have long admired.  This lovely oval white platter with the double black lines   looks modern, contemporary, clean and just right at the table. The size is perfect to serve an Italian Bread Salad – a summer time luxury that takes full advantage of all the beautiful tomatoes grown here on the Ohio River. This double black lined beauty is already one of my favorites.

IMG_5491

Warwick China Platter with Double Black Stripe

You can see a few nicks here and there on the platter. There are also silver marks and the glaze is not as bright as once upon a time . . . but has it ever aged gracefully! It is a real beauty with a rich history. If only plates could talk . . .