Category Archives: Vintage Home

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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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.

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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

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.

Ohio River Pottery: Pope-Gosser China

In the early twentieth century, Mr. Wells the president of Homer Laughlin China Company appeared before a Congressional Committee on tariffs to plead the case of American Potteries. He argued that foreign wares, particularly German and Japanese imports, were given an unfair advantage in the current laws governing tariffs. One of the committee members questioned whether or not quality china was produced in the United States. Mr. Wells gave two examples, first he spoke about Sebring Pottery and then he produced examples produced by Pope-Gosser Company. He confessed that Pope-Gosser produced very little of the beautiful china except for their reputation. Most of the white ware then produced was a much lower quality because of the price competition.

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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.


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



Shenango China Plate, Black Arrows and Circles on White