Archive | August 2017

Restaurant Ware

Restaurant ware is a broad range of dishware that is produced specifically for use in…you guessed it…restaurants.  It is appropriate for many industrial or institutional purposes such as cafeteria or hospital use.  Much of this ware was made for railroad dining cars.  Patterns were created and reserved specifically for certain establishments.  Military officer’s tables are graced with dishware bearing specific service logos.  Many restaurants have their own logo ware.  Organizations and clubs also invest in tableware bearing their emblems.  Collectors build sets of restaurant ware and some pieces, especially older or rare ones, command high prices.

My own restaurant ware interest is in Syracuse China Dogwood pattern.  Some of my pieces are pictured above.  This design, with the scalloped edge is on the Winthrop body shape.  There is also a plain, straight rim with the same decoration that I’m not opposed to collecting.  I love the dogwood blooms.  It is one of my favorite flowers.  Reminds me of the beautiful little spring-flowering dogwoods brightening the dark woods of my North Carolina childhood.  This pattern was used by the Norfolk and Western railway in their Roanoke Hotel restaurant.  The 10-KK date code corresponds to Oct. 1956.

Buffalo China Windsor cup and plate

Buffalo China Estoril plate, cup and saucer

There are and were many American manufacturers of restaurant ware.  Some big names include Syracuse, Buffalo, Shenango, Homer Laughlin, Mayer, Jackson, Wallace and Tepco.  Their products were thick, heavy weight vitrified china.  This material could withstand the hard commercial use without chipping, cracking or crazing.

Comcor by Corning, ceramic glass, rope design, pattern name unknown to me

Corning produced lines of restaurant ware using their ceramic glass formulas and these products were also much thicker and heavier than household dishes.  Restaurant ware is produced in many other countries and there are avid collectors of non-US varieties of dishware.

Sometimes the pieces from particular establishments are prized or certain shapes such as platters.  I have a fondness for bouillon cups.  They are so cute! Vintage ware from closed potteries is popular.

Homer Laughlin cups with an airbrushed mauve-gray rim band

Shenango salad plate, I have not been able to identify the pattern name

Jackson China bouillon cup, black scrolled pattern, name unknown to me

In my online shops on eBay and Etsy I currently have a small selection of restaurant ware.  Most of the pieces for sale are by Buffalo China or Syracuse.  There are a smattering of offerings from other manufacturers as well.  Restaurant ware is a strong, perennial seller.  Collectors look for examples that are in the best condition possible.  Since the dishes have likely seen service, most will carry use marks, usually utensil scratches and rubbed areas from stacking.  Pieces with light to minimal signs of use are often listed at premium prices.  Rare shapes or patterns can cause bidding wars.

Whenever I come across a restaurant dish in good condition, I snap it up it knowing it will sell.

Emerging Rocks

Periodically, rocks buried in the soil at our farm will come to the surface.  This is usually a very slow process aided by weather conditions.  It can take years, decades, or in the case of huge boulders, centuries for the rocks to be pushed out of the dirt.  After many years of mowing the fields and orchards, I have memorized the locations of all the rocks that jut from the surface enough to catch the mower blades.  Or, at least I thought I had.

In recent years new rocks have lifted their heads within just a few winters.  The piece of granite above is an example.  It measures about 3.5 ft x 2 ft and for most of my lifetime at the farm has been nearly submerged.  The stone is a piece from the cellar of a barn that stood on our property back in the 1800s.  Until recently I have been able to mow right over this chunk of granite.  Starting around four years ago, things changed.  I hit the thing with my mower blade.

Trying to mow a rock with a rotary mowing machine is not recommended.  I cringe whenever I hear that telltale ringing crunch of metal on stone.  Luckily, it is a rare occurrence since removing the mower blades for sharpening is a tedious, time-consuming task.  Yet, in the past few years I have caught several previously unknown rocks that have suddenly surfaced.  What is so quickly moving these buried chunks of mountaintop or ledge?  Most likely the power of ice.

Our weather here in central Maine has changed since I was young.  Even in the last ten years there have been noticeable shifts in patterns, something I’ve discussed in prior posts.  The current pattern involves much more rain in winter.  Storms that once would have been pounding Nor-easter blizzards now deluge us in rain.  The ground does not freeze as deeply as it once did so the water soaks in.  Since it is still Maine in winter, a heavy rainstorm in December is often followed by several days of below-zero F temperatures.  All that moisture runs down around and under the rocks in the ground and then freezes.

Freezing water expands with an irresistible power.  The ice crystals push the rocks higher and higher until they break the surface.  I believe the new warmth and excess rain are why rocks are appearing with such annoying regularity when I’m mowing.  And also why older rocks are rapidly working their way more completely from the earth.  As they pop to the surface, most of these stones can be loosened with the tractor bucket and moved out of the way.  The great chunk of granite above will require some effort with chains, pry bars and the tractor to get it out of the middle of a hayfield.  I’ll put that job on my To Do list.