The Victor Mug: The Social Life of Things:

More than a drink, coffee is a ritual. Sleepy-eyed in the early morning quiet . . . we follow a familiar and comforting routine.  After a few minutes, the coffee  is ready and hot. Grab your mug. . . . your favorite mug, the mug, the ritual mug. The vessel for the ritual of waking to a new day.

More important than the brew is the vessel. I didn’t understand the importance of this until I spent time in France. There is no better coffee to be found; but, I needed a mug for coffee that I made in my apartment. Not pretty. Not porcelain. Not delicate. Not small. A real mug.

I searched for a mug with the proper weight, ample size and simple. It took days to find a mug that was adequate. I settled for a mug from England that was very close. Handsome it was . . . over time, I learned to appreciate this mug. But, I was disappointed when it did not survive the journey home.

I was not the first to need a mug that could make a long journey. The armed services especially the Navy looked for mug that would “work” on a ship. The necessary characteristics were heft and stability – Victor produced the mug needed by the Navy. The porcelain produced by the Victor Insulator Company in New York was used to ground electrical wires. Heavy duty thick ironstone that also keeps coffee warm for a bit longer.

Coffee is a habit loved by men and women in all walks of life. Indeed, for many of us, it is a  struggle to go through the morning without coffee. Especially for a soldier who is far from home. During the Civil War, one young man wrote,  “We are reduced to quarter rations and no coffee,” he continued. “And nobody can soldier without coffee.” NPR 

http://beetlebailey.com/comics/november-12-2007/

I have read stories about men in World War II giving their mugs to those who asked. They were in demand. Hopper painted a diner scene with the familiar white mug. In the cartoon, Beetle Bailey, there is the white mug. And I have seen the Victor mug in quite a few old films. Stay tuned to see a few of our Victor Mugs in the new film, Midway.  Certainly a film about a critical Navy battle would not be complete without a Victor Mug!

We have sent Victor Mugs to buyers all over the world. This morning a Victor Mug was sent to North Carolina and Germany. We have mailed them to Saudi Arabia and Istanbul. Hong Kong and Australia. We have even sent them to sailors on Navy vessels in the Pacific.

 

The Victor Mug

 

Some days, I have the crazy idea that peace in the world is possible. If only we could sit with a cup of coffee in a Victor Mug and talk. There is a spirit in the thing itself . . .

Notice the dings on the bottom rim; but yet, the mug did not break. It survived to see another coffee break!

You can see our Victor Mugs – some with green lines – in our Etsy Shop.

 

 

 

More to Explore:

http://victormug.com/index.html

http://www.thepirateslair.com/4-enlisted-mess-white-mug-handle.html

http://www.arjunappadurai.org/articles/Appadurai_The_Thing_Itself.pdf

Good Design for Everyone: American Modern by Russel Wright

The glaze captures the imagination .  . .

Russel Wright dedicated long hours to mixing glazes to achieve the depth of soft color of American Modern Dinnerware. The first glaze colors – Chartreuse, Seafoam, Granite Gray, Coral, and Bean Brown –  were envisaged as a complementary palette. The glazes bring out the best in each other – a reflection of color in the natural world.  In that vein, American Modern was introduced as “open stock” dinnerware.

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American Modern designed by Russel Wright, produced by Steubenville Pottery, 1937.             Chop Plate in Seafoam (13.5 X 13.5 inches)

Seafoam has an earthiness unexpected in blue . . . it is not a blue-gray. A stormy sea at sundown?

The seafoam glaze grounds chartreuse while the shape of the square platter cradles the salad plate. A platter without a distinct rim or a deep well was distinctly different in 1937. Russel Wright stripped the typical elements of a platter. His minimalist design would shape modern dinnerware while his glaze colors were imitated but never duplicated.

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American Modern Glass by Russel Wright and Morgantown Glass Guild, 1951.                      Cocktail Glasses, Chartreuse (3 X 3 inches)

 

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American Modern Chop Plate serves as a Cocktail Tray.

Good design does not dictate. The chop plate designed for the service of a meat course was a large square platter that might serve as a tray . ..  in other rooms as well.

 

 . . .  the art of life is centered on the dinner table.

The Victorian etiquette books were heavy with standards that were unattainable for most consumers. There were bone plates, fish plates, underplates in the list. And of course, there was the time required to set such a table and maintain a lifestyle dictated by the past that was no longer practical in the every day of life.

American Modern set a new standard – multi-functional and undecorated pieces that could be mixed by the homemaker at will. In their book, Russel and Mary Wright wrote, that each table setting would be a unique design  –  a work of art created by the homemaker. The art of the table.

 

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American Modern by Russel Wright. Steubenville Pottery, 1939.                                                    Celery Tray, Seafoam (13 X 3 inches).

 

Every Plate Tells a Story: Horn and Hardart

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. American potteries had developed new production methods and, importantly for consumers, the china produced was equal to the wares produced in England. There was a celebratory air in the potteries as described by editors in business journals.

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.

Messiers  Horn and Hardart 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.

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Marion by Mayer China

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

Classic Americana: Heavy Old Diner Coffee Mug

Classic, curvy, heavy and durable coffee mug. The kind used in the local diner for years. From that rather humble beginning, mugs like these have become icons of the past. It is still possible to find great old mugs that are simple, heavy and durable in shades of white. Rarely do they bear any signatory other than a makers mark on the bottom. But very old ironstone mugs like this are not always marked. But we can find them because they were made to endure. In short, they don’t make them like this anymore.
– The lines were hand drawn – no two mugs are the same.
– The oldest mugs were not poured into a mold – they were hand-fashioned on a wheel.
– Vitrified by high temps, twice fired at 2200 degrees. The heat is so high that 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.

The classic white coffee mug on the red and white check tablecloth was produced by Hall China in East Liverpool, Ohio, circa 1925. Fortunately, Hall China remains a fully operational pottery. At present, Hall is geared to the professional cook, they produce pieces that will go into the freezer, the dishwasher on sterilize, into the oven or the broiler for au gratin.

This beauty was produced by Sterling China in Wellsville, Ohio in the 1930s; the stamp is very early.

 

 

The double pin stripe lines are especially appealing. So clean and cool. What is even more remarkable is the glaze – still bright with lots of sheen. Heavy? Yes, this Sterling coffee mug weighs 1.25 pounds.

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

Cozy Up to Vintage Handwoven Textiles

Is there a better way to add bright beautiful color to a corner or a sofa or a bed then with a colorful handwoven textiles? From hand crocheted afghans to hand woven Saltillo blankets – it seems like their color and beautiful details add so much to any environment. Especially since no two pieces are exactly alike.

In the winter or a chilly night in any season, a pile of blankets is comforting. On one of those nights, when hibernating seems like part of the natural rhythm of life . . . grab an afghan or a blanket, pick up that book or maybe even, watch the final season of Downton Abbey.

A stack of vintage textiles - runners, rugs, afghan and Saltillo blankets.
A stack of vintage textiles – runners, rugs, afghan and Saltillo blankets.

Ohio River Pottery: Black and White Restaurant China

Call it what you will . . . Retro Diner, Restaurant China or Restaurant Ware. To my eye, these plates look fresh and modern. Black is back but did it ever fade away?

The scalloped edge brings a cottage in the country feel. The bold black thick border looks clean and contemporary. Add to a collection or start a collection with these pieces. They will be with you a long, long time.

Adding a few photographs so that you can see them all together and on their own.

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Hard to choose a favorite when I favor them all . . .

 

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Shenango China Plate, Black Arrows and Circles on White

True Romance: The Perfect Picnic Spot

“Let’s have a picnic.”  Yes!  Gather the supplies and pack the food. The adventure really begins once we are all in the car. We must find the “perfect” picnic spot. At first, we pass places that are not shady enough, parks with too many people or for one reason or other they are “not quite right.” As time passes and the sun wanes, boredom sets in and hunger prevails, not-so-perfect picnic spots look so much better – even you might say, perfect.

My favorite book describing the hunt for a perfect picnic spot is “The Bears Picnic” by the Berenstain Brothers. Even though it has been a long long time since I have read it to a child, whenever I think about picnics, I think about the bears’ picnic. I enjoyed reading another take on this book at Write Run Repeat. The perfect spot,  of course, is very close – no need to travel at all  – a backyard picnic is a joyful idea.

http://writerunrepeat.com/tag/berenstain-bears/
Bears Picnic

A New Look for a Vintage Filigree Vanity Tray: Mason Jars and Milk Glass

I often wonder about the new homes for the vintage treasures that we send. Taryn paired a 1950s mirrored filigree vanity tray with painted ball jars and then added a glass knob.  . . . what a great new look for a vintage tray.

Vintage Filigree Mirrored Tray with Vanity Jars. Ball Jars painted white - Voila! New use for Ball Jars.
Vintage Filigree Mirrored Tray with Vanity Jars. Ball Jars painted white – Voila! New use for Ball Jars.

Russell Wright Chartreuse Salt and Pepper Shakers – For You

All that is needed to understand the beauty of  ergonomics is to hold the salt and pepper shakers designed by Russel Wright for Steubenville in your hands . . . to hold them is to love them. They fit the hand so perfectly.

And we would like to give you that opportunity. We are giving away this set of chartreuse Russel Wright Salt and Pepper Shakers.

Ohio River Pottery: Shadows by John Gilkes for Taylor, Smith & Taylor

The ink was barely dry on his master’s thesis when John Gilkes accepted the position of Lead Designer for the Taylor, Smith Taylor Pottery. Gilkes, under the tutelage of Arthur E. Baggs, the renown potter and professor of ceramics at Ohio State University, researched production techniques for new dinnerware shapes. Innovation was paramount to the potteries that had enjoyed success along the banks of the Ohio River. Especially in light of the heightened competition from the Asian marketplaces and the new attraction of plastics to homemakers.