Dear Helaine and Joe:
I have had this plate for 35 years, but I am not sure how long it was in the family before that. Could you please tell me something about it?
A. W., Marietta, N.Y.
Dear A. W.:
Many of us know the major makers of American everyday dinnerware. There is, for example, Homer Laughlin and their Fiestaware, Hall and their Autumn Leaf made for the Jewel Tea Company, and Gladding McBean’s Franciscan, Apple or Desert Rose patterns, to name just a few.
Joe can remember eating many a PB&J sandwich off one of his aunt’s Apple plates, and another aunt’s Desert Rose’s. Once upon a time, America’s kitchen cabinets were full of these everyday patterns, and today they can produce a nostalgic response in many of our psyches.
Every time Joe sees a piece of Apple dinnerware, he is rocketed back in his head to his aunt’s knotty pine-paneled kitchen in his head.
It is not an unpleasant experience, and it is exactly this sort of sentimental response that can drive the collectibles market.
All that is well and good, but while we have been talking about relatively well-known manufacturers and seriously collected patterns, there are lesser-known companies and patterns that are of interest to some collectors.
Let us start with the pattern of the piece belonging to A. W., which is essentially a decal that was used by several American companies.
A decal is a design that may be either multicolored or monochromatic and is printed on a special type of paper. Among other things, it is used to decorate ceramics. To do this, a “size,” which is a sort of gelatinous compound made from glue, wax or clay, is put on the ceramic’s surface, and the paper decal is positioned on top of the size.
The design adheres to the size, and when the piece is fired in the kiln, the decoration becomes incorporated into the glaze.
The decal is really nothing more than a modern version of the transfer print, which has been used on ceramics since the middle of the 18th century.
The manufacturer of this particular decal-decorated platter is Sabin Industries of McKeesport, Pa., which was founded by Samuel Sabin in 1946. Their business was to decorate china and glass, and in the 1950s, they used decals that are often referred to as “Colonial Lady and Gentleman.”
Sabin did not originate this decal, and the same design can be found on dinnerware made by other companies such as the Cronin China Company of Minerva, Ohio.
But there is no doubt that Sabin made the piece in today’s question because it is marked with their artist’s palette, their trademark “Crest-O-Gold” and the company’s name.
This piece is no older than 60 or 65 years, but Colonial Lady and Gentleman does have a collector following. Some of these pieces have fancy lace tracery inside the gold border, but this one does not — and that is a bit of a deduction — but this nice platter should be valued in the $40 to $60 range for retail purposes.