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

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 at a hard edge at the top. The edge is curved back on itself. There is not one hard edge.


Other times, I take a look and see a shell. It is, after all, a vessel. The shape is borrowed from the natural world . . .  organic and minimalist. Modern and classic.


Bailey-Walker China: Blue and White Ironstone

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.”


Plate, Bailey-Walker China (Bedford, Ohio), ca. 1930s

I believe it might have something to do with the fact that the potters, decorators and packers and all others associated with the potteries in Ohio, had a sense that this was their work – the finished plate was the fruit of their labor. In modern terms, the folks who worked there were invested in the company. . . Indeed, in the early accounts of the opening of Bailey-Walker pottery in Bedford Ohio, writers described the spontaneous parade and joy of the good citizens in Bedford. It was a day of celebration – the kilns would fire!

These ironstone dishes are a part of that spirit of excellence. They were produced in the 1930s – the back stamps bear the Bailey-Walker logo and the Albert Pick logo. The Albert Pick Company in Chicago distributed wares to restaurants and other industries.

Blue and White Ironstone Cup and Saucer, Bailey-Walker China

Blue and White Ironstone Cup and Saucer, Bailey-Walker China

If you like blue and white china then these will delight .  . . They are beautiful. The stylized floral reminds me of block prints from India or Provençal prints.  And, so practical. While I would  not use them for target practice, they will certainly survive the everyday of life in the home.


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


One last note, if you know the name of this pattern – please share!


A Mix of Plates. Bailey-Walker with Johnson Brothers Snowhite Regency, Homer Laughlin Best China.The small plate at the very top of the stack, old white Ironstone from the cupboard.

Vintage Restaurant Ware: A Sentimental Journey

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 became smaller or even new styles to conform to fast food dinettes with rectangular trays.

But still, pleasant times and important moments are often spent in very public places like restaurants or trains. Recently, I found a plate from the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta – an old hotel with a history that includes Rufus Putnam. In our family history however, my daughter and her husband spent their honeymoon at the Lafayette. Since they were growing heirloom plants, they could not leave the farm for long. They returned to the same hotel for their first anniversary. It was three days of bliss spent with the sweetest baby.

Back to the plate . . . there were two plates. The plates are not in the best condition – they have been well loved over the years – stained, chipped and scratched. But, still they are wonderful . . . even if they are from the Hotel Lafayette in Buffalo, New York.  If you know the answer about which Lafayette Hotel, please let me know.



Hotel Lafayette Plate, Warwick China

Spring Cleaning Tip: How to Clean Rugs

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 the guy who is freshening the rug.

And one last note, I was surprised to find that household advice and recipes had value. In the forward to Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’s Cook Book, women were encouraged to send in their tips and recipes. The publisher paid one cent per word.





April Showers, Spring Flowers and Dandelion Bouquets

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 showers do bring flowers. The wildflowers here in the foothills of the Appalachians are a never ending delight. Always there is something that I have not seen before – and some flowers that I want to see more like violets.

If there is one essential item that every mother needs – now that is one big assertion – that one essential item is a small vase for spring bouquets. I once called ours, “the dandelion vase.”  It is the small vase that is used for the precious bouquet of dandelions carried with such joy. “Mommy. Mommy. I found these flowers for you.” As a first time mother, those dandelions were carefully arranged in a tumbler of some sort. Looking a little forlorn – a little out of place and then of course, they looked a little weedy. But the sentiment overwhelms.

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Plain Old White Ironstone Bowls

A good chili bowl should hold chili. A better than good bowl for chili should not be too wide  – leave the wide bowl for cereal. A wide bowl holds the contents certainly but the narrower width means that the chili will cool down quicker. Maybe a small thing. But early pottery manufacturers in Ohio recognized these small yet critical differences for the food service industry – restaurants, hotels, trains and later plane.


Ironstone Chili Bowl, Warwick China

Durability mattered; certainly, but so did style. The shape and form of these “plain old white” bowls is certain proof that form and function were married perfectly.


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Ready for Chili – Vintage Restaurant China



Shenango China, Strawberry Hill Oval Plate with Chile Bowl By Buffalo China with Maroon Airbrushed Trim

Vintage Ephemera: Christmas Cards

They do not make cards like this anymore. . . they are utterly beguiling in simplicity and color.

Simple graphics in this Art Deco Era card are extraordinary – and the typography is striking. The message, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, comes to life.

IMG_9471 img006


The graphics in postcards in the 1950s are definitive. Indeed, they are historical artifacts . . . like this one.


Greetings From Hollywood Beach, Florida


All are one of a kind – choose one for a friend who is one of a kind.

A delightfully happy Saint Nick.

A delightfully happy Saint Nick.

Selling Pieces of the Past: The World is Your Marketplace

Governor  James Rhodes brought the dream of the Appalachian Highway to life with a lot of political capital earned over the span of a long political career. Born and raised in Southern Ohio, his efforts on behalf of the people and the economy of Appalachian Ohio are still remembered. Jimmy, as the old timers call him, is a local hero.


Appalachian Highway, Wikipedia.


Others traveling through the region might read the roadside sign dedicated to his memory. As one newspaper reported:

On its long, empty stretches, the James A. Rhodes Appalachian Highway gives drivers green vistas of southern Ohio’s rolling hills. This is not the green that planners had in mind.

The need for connecting roads was felt long before Governor Rhodes. H. R. Wylie, the owner of the pottery in Huntington, was very active in politics on the West Virginia side of the Ohio River. Mr. Wylie lobbied for support, invested a great deal of money to effect change and even entertained the idea of running for state office. Roads were essential for commerce – which as every school boy knows is good for the people.


A Railroad Tunnel Built in the Late 19th Century, Moonville, Ohio.

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Victorian Fashion: Unmentionables, Cat’s Pajamas and Nightwear

I love the euphemism unmentionables. I love the irony of the word. After all, once said, they are mentionable. Imaginations must have been stirred by the mere mention of unmentionables. But beyond the intimate world of  private conversation, unmentionables were described and depicted in the public sphere – in catalogs, journals and magazines. The boom in popular magazines for homemakers, you might say, allowed a peek under the petticoat.

Gibson Girl Style, Antique Postcard, I Saw Everything Going On

Gibson Girl Style, Antique Postcard, I Saw Everything Going On


Images of prepubescent boys flipping through the Sears catalog or Ladies Home Journal make us smile in this day and age.  As late as the sixties, television censors would not show the brassiere on “real women.”  Things do change. Imagine wearing a corset. Imagine needing another pair of hands to pull laces tight or undo them at night. Imagine the Bullet Bra . . .

Imagine the Bullet Bra

Imagine the Bullet Bra


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Rare Vintage Woven Wicker Picnic Basket

Rare Red-Man Vintage Picnic Basket

Rare Red-Man Vintage Picnic Basket


This picnic basket is supported with an oak frame and split oak base; double-wooden handle and brass tacks and hinges. The woven wicker top is supported by fiber board. Notice the diamond accent also woven in wicker. This basket is a real beauty.