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