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.

Vintage Enesco Unicorn Music Box

I found this lovely vintage hand painted porcelain music box at a thrift store for less than $2.  It was coated in a brown veneer of cigarette tar from spending a couple decades in a smoker’s home.  Probably due to the very dirty condition, no one had given this gorgeous piece a second glance.

The music box is from 1988 and is a rare holiday edition from a series called Elusive Legend by Enesco.  It was made in Taiwan and measures 7.75″ high.  The music is Carol of the Bells.  This piece is exquisitely modeled and carefully painted.

Enesco started in 1958 as a subsidiary of N. Shure Co. (NSCo, sound it out!)  It was the arm of the company that imported items, mostly from Asia, for sale in the US.  The musical movement works perfectly and the porcelain has no damage.  The metal music box itself is by Schmid, a manufacturer renowned for high quality.

I spent about one-half hour carefully cleaning the smoker’s build-up.  The mess needed to be removed without getting any water into the metal workings.  Once I saw how beautiful it was, I wanted this for myself.  I’m a huge fan of anything horsey.  Then I checked the value.  This item is rare and sought after.  It is worth about $200.  Sadly, I must sell the little unicorn, I can’t afford such an expensive bit of decor.  I’m sure it will go to a very deserving person.  The piece is in my eBay shop.


Vintage Beaded Clutch Purse


I wanted to show this particularly nice vintage beaded clutch that I recently discovered in a thrift shop and have listed in my eBay store.  Over the years I have found and sold several beaded purses.  This is one of the most elaborate so far.  The front is completely encrusted with red-gold colored sequins, each with a tiny gold bead sewn in the center.  Over the sequins is sewn a pattern of flowers all in gold beads.  The beads are on pale yellow satin.  The reverse has a geometric pattern in gold beads.bead4

As you can imagine, all the beading gives this little purse a fairly substantial feel in the hands.  Beads are heavy! The interior is more of the yellow satin and there is a small pocket for a mirror.  The clutch folds to close and is held with a snap. bead5

The condition is amazing!  This bag was likely made in the late 1950s to 1960s.  The label reads Richere Bag by Walborg, hand beaded in Hong Kong.  Walborg was a company founded by Hilde Weinberg in New York City in the late 1940s.  She originally worked as a vice president for a cosmetics manufacturing firm and resigned in 1949 to study the handbag business for eighteen months before establishing her company.  Walborg Corp. continued under her ownership until 1971.bead7

Beaded purses were especially popular in the 1950s.  Their production was first done in Europe.  Manufacturers moved to Asia when labor there was found to be less expensive.  The beading was performed in Japan and Hong Kong and later in China.  Richere  is one of several well known names in this particular style of purse.  Small clutches mostly served as evening accessories or were taken to special functions such as weddings and fancy parties.  The intensive labor involved in producing such finely detailed work meant the purses were expensive status symbols.

Today beaded clutches are enjoying popularity again, especially among brides looking for a unique vintage design.bead3

This clutch appears in excellent vintage condition.  The beading is intact, somewhat amazing considering the fragile nature.  The piece is quite clean, with just a bit of smudging on the satin around the snap.  Often these purses are found missing portions of the beading or with serious stains.a1

Here is another beaded purse currently in my online shop.  It is a more modern design, most likely from the 1970s.  There is no maker’s label.  The pretty pattern on this red satin clutch is two-sided.  Another example of how hard some poor beader had to work to earn their wage.  I hope these workers considered themselves artists because to me a well-beaded clutch bag is a work of art.a2


k1When I was thrift-shopping the other day to find interesting things to add to my online stores, I discovered these five little bowls.  They are 4.25″ in diameter and 1″ tall.  The cats are very cute and the bowls appeared new so I scooped them up for 90 cents each.k6  They are designed look hand done, though if you examine closely, you will see the fingertip marks and other “handmade” flaws are the same on each piece.  These were all done in the same mold and the art work, though appearing handpainted, is transfer.  Each bowl has the artist’s first name and seal and the name of the featured cat in English.k2The artist is Hajime Okamoto.  He has Westernized his name by placing his given name first and family name following.  In Japan he would be called Okamoto Hajime.  He goes by Hajime and that’s good enough for me.  I decided to do some research on the artist before listing the bowls for sale.

There is not much information available on Western websites about this artist, although he is fairly famous in Japan.  His cat series is especially popular.  Cats are considered bringers of good fortune.  (Such a breath of fresh air for felines after being associated with demons and witches in the West.)  Hajime was born in Osaka in 1942.  He went to China in the 1980s on cultural exchange to Jilin Province and his work is said to be influenced by his time there.

In 1986 he began displaying his art in China.  By the early 1990s his work was exhibited in Osaka and in 1995 a national Japanese gallery exhibit gained him great recognition.  His art graces calendars, puzzles, bento (lunch) boxes, plastic rice bowls, chop stick sets, an illustrated kids book and ceramics such as these bowls and matching cups, spoon holders and platters.k3In 1998 the cats debuted.  Hajime says his cats were developed while listening to 1960s jazz and he imagined them as laid-back, relaxed creatures living a slow and free life amid the bustle of humans.  They all have names and personalities.  Many of his designs feature inspirational sayings about how to be happy.k4The leader of the cat clan is Kabamaru, a tiger kitty who is always depicted as the largest in the group.  Kaba means hippo and maru connotes young male.  There appears to be some differing of opinion about the origin and meaning of the suffix maru that is used in so many Japanese names including ships.

Some Japanese say maru means round or circular and it must.  It can also signify powerful, a full month, small and round in the face, perfection and purity.  But, I found an interesting post by a thoughtful Japanese named Nangi that I think explains the true origin.  Ancient Japanese were reputed to be very superstitious.  They believed that an evil god or demon named Oni brought pestilence and death.  They hoped to fool the demon into not touching their babies by giving them a name that literally meant filth, excrement or feces.  Like Hajime-maru, for instance.  So maru meant poop.

Over time the suffix took on a broader connotation:  a general charm for good luck.  It was associated with  young boys and also was attached to sailing vessels to help bring a positive outcome for frightening voyages over deep water.  All of this tells us the meaning of Kabamaru cat’s name is young male hippo.  There are other cats such as Momoji, Sakon, Urume, Tango, Musashi, Inari and Shirorin.  I will resist trying to find the translations for their names.k5The cute little bowls are available in select shops and markets.  The prices range from $10-$20 per piece.  Some places they are called plates.  I believe they are intended to be used at meals to hold side dishes, small servings, sauces, etc.  I had no idea I would learn so much researching these simple bowls!  They are currently for sale in my eBay store.

Some links I found researching:

Vintage Lingerie


Barbizon pink satin jacquard half slip, size L, Style # 74025, near new, likely vintage 1970s-early 1980s, Sold $12

A small but lucrative department in my online stores is devoted to vintage lingerie.  Collecting vintage lingerie seems to be popular, and as with many collectors, money is not always much of a consideration. The condition of the clothing and any packaging is paramount.  A sense of nostalgia must play a big role for collectors:  clothing that evokes another time.  Whenever I find a choice piece of vintage lingerie in a secondhand shop, I know I’ve struck gold.  Most items I pay between $1-$5 to acquire.


Van Raalte Opaquelon Full Slip White Size 38, Metal Fittings, near new, likely vintage 1970s, Sold $17


Bali Beyond Beautiful Camisole Bra, Black, sz 36B, Style 3356, New Old Stock, vintage 1990s, Sold $27

Most vintage lingerie I find in thrift shops or yard sales has been well-loved (worn a lot) and is not worth speculation.  Once in a while I find old new stock.  These items still have hang tags attached or are in the original packaging.  They are in new condition but quite old.  Someone probably bought the stuff years ago and stashed it in a drawer until they died.  When the house was cleaned out, the contents were sent to a thrift shop and Voila! a new old stock item for my shop!  This is, of course, the most desirable category of vintage clothing.  People pay BIG money for New Old Stock.


Dandy Bra by Youthcraft, Style 2162, Beige, 44B, New Without Tags, For Sale in Shop, Likely vintage late 1970s-early 1980s

The next best condition is vintage unworn to nearly new.  These are the wares I deal in the most.  Care is needed to scrupulously check every inch of an old piece of lingerie to find any damage.  Pulls, stains, rips, stretches, fading, pilling, loss of lace or decals, and any other damage will greatly affect the resale price of the garment.  A pull in an otherwise gorgeous nylon nightgown could render it unsalable.


Two lace overlay satin half slips, Malom Lingerie, NYC, Size Small, Color Pink, New Old Stock, For Sale in Shop, Likely Vintage 1950s-1970s

I have learned a few things about brands over the years.  Some very popular brands that I have carried include Barbizon, Van Raalte, Vanity Fair, Playtex, Bali, Warner’s, Olga, and Kayser, old designers and old department stores like Sak’s, Caldor and Macy’s.


Caldor Regal Width Pantyhose, Wonderlon nylon, Color Beige, New Old Stock, likely Vintage 1960s-early 1970s, For Sale in Shop

Things I look for to find true prizes are lingerie made in the USA (most modern stuff is imported,) good brand names, metal fittings, and old material names like Opaquelon, Wonderlon, or Taffreda. Permanently affixed material care labels were not required until 1972 so age can sometimes be estimated by the labels the garment carries.  Various companies invented their own synthetic material formulas and gave them fancy names.  Barbizon is famous for this. Old silk lingerie pieces are a major score!


Barbizon Taffreda Half Slip, Color Ivory, Size Small, Lace Applique Insets at Hem, Like New, Likely Vintage 1970s, For Sale in Shop

The fastest selling lingerie or intimates in my shop are lovely cotton or synthetic nightgowns with lots of lace that are new old stock.  Second-most popular are full length black slips with lace and gathers in the form-fitted styles of the 1950s.  A perfect old Barbizon Taffreda full slip with lots of lace, a fitted bodice and full skirt, in a regular size like Medium or Large will sell for as much as $75-$100 or more.  The heavy, rich Taffreda fabric that produces a satisfying rustle as you walk is sought after.  Van Raalte full slips with 12″ lace hems or beautiful pleating command big prices, $150-200.  Perfect full-length peignoir sets (gown and robe) can sell for hundreds of dollars.


Jockey For Her, Combed Cotton Brief, Size 6, Color Pink, New Old Stock, Vintage 1990s, For Sale in Shop

Sometimes a buyer is looking for a particular style or brand that is discontinued.  These customers are willing to pay well for something they love and can no longer get on store shelves.  I’m one of those buyers.  Manufacturers always seem to discontinue my favorite styles.  EBay and Etsy are rich sources for discontinued styles, as well as online specialty shops.  The best deals are usually on eBay.

Discovering a vintage intimate wear treasure is a thrill and I am willing to dig through endless bins and racks to find a few hidden gems.


Robinson Ransbottom Pottery


Robinson Ransbottom Pottery of Roseville, OH was in business in one form or another from 1900 to 2005. The works were founded by four Ransbottom brothers, using local clay to produce utilitarian items such as crocks for preserving food, jugs, jars, planters and kitchenware like their beloved mixing bowls.

Around 1920 the Ransbottoms acquired Robinson Pottery and added the name to their company. R.R.P.Co, as their mark distinguishes them, dabbled in art pottery with some whimsical cookie jars and lovely handpainted vases and dishware.  I am drawn to the salt glaze and the thick, substantial feel of the wares.

The brown drip covered casserole above is currently offered in my eBay online store.  It was an amazing find as it appears unused.  There is no damage, looks like it came from the pottery yesterday.  The dish is quite large, measuring nearly 10″ across at the handles.  It carries the incised RRP mark, which I believe is older than the stamped marks.rrp3

rrp6rrp7My first encounter with RRP was many years ago when my husband began bringing mugs home from a local craft shop where he delivered for his job.  He was drawn to the rugged feel of the mug.  At that time RRP was fairly inexpensive to own.  We acquired several mugs, and some heavy dishes for the pets’ water.


Cary demonstrating the use of his RRP water bowl.  We use the big ‘DOG’ bowl because it is heavy enough to support the weight of cats who like to stand on the rim to drink.

Sadly, over the years, most of the mugs were broken and a cat knocked the water bowl with ‘KITTY’ written on the side onto the floor, shattering it.  On one awful day as I washed dishes, I manage to break the handles on two mugs.  Think I might have cried a little over that.rrp5

This pattern with the two blue stripes is called Williamsburg, sometimes Williamsburg 303 or Williamsburg III and Williamsburg Pioneer.  It is my favorite and also very popular with collectors.  The style is clean, simple and attractive.

With the closing of the pottery in 2005, the price of RRP pieces has slowly climbed.  Today it would be an expensive proposition were I to try to replace those mugs I broke.  With a little luck, I sometimes find a stray RRP item in a thrift store, such as the one pint pitcher and the ten ounce crock above.

I always keep a lookout for the RRP mark when I browse thrift stores and yard sales.  Never know when I might strike it rich!


Silver Polish

a1Today I am cleaning some old silver I recently picked up at a secondhand shop.  There are four pieces to be cleaned.  First is a silverplate creamer made by Wallace in pattern # 9024, very nice overall condition, badly tarnished.a5

a2Second are vintage silverplate (90) dinner knife and fork in the same pattern (the pattern name I have not yet identified) made by V.S.F. or Vereinigte Silberwarenfabriken or United Silverwaremakers, of Dusseldorf, Germany.  These have seen some wear, particularly the knife, and are fairly tarnished.a4

a13And, finally, a real surprise, an English solid sterling silver fiddle handle dinner fork!  It was tucked innocently in a plastic bag with a bunch of stainless flatware.  The hallmarks indicate it was made in London in 1844 by a maker with the initials LS.  I have not been able to identify the maker’s name.  The fork is quite substantial, weighing 80 grams, and worth about $36 weight-wise at current sterling prices. I suspect its age will help bring a higher price at auction.  The tines have some wear, reducing the value.

Dealing in vintage and antique items resale occasionally brings pieces of silverplate or solid silver into my possession.  Over the years I have learned a few things about proper care of old silver.

Sometimes a seller, mostly online, will tout the “patina” of the silver item they have to offer.  What they mean is the thing is badly tarnished.  Some pieces are nearly black.  This is not patina, this is oxidation. Tarnish on old (or new) silver is not desirable except in a very limited way.

The proper patina on old silver is a very good feature.  It is what a discriminating buyer is looking for. Silver patina consists of a multitude of tiny scratches and scuffs acquired over many years of use. These add up to a softening of the brightness of the surface, the finish is no longer mirror.  Such wear should not be too deep.  Deep scratches are not desirable.  Wear that removes silverplate to the base metal beneath is unwanted.  The scuffs plus the right amount of tarnish are the real patina.

The right amount, much sought after, tarnish on silver is the black that slowly fills the crevices in pattern details, making the engraved or cast features stand out from the surface.  In general, silver should be polished to remove tarnish down to just what clings in the crevices.  The rest of the surface should be as bright a metal color as can be achieved given the wear.

When I first began acquiring old silver and came across blackened flatware or hollowware, I made the mistake of using a liquid chemical cleaner to remove oxidation.  The liquid does a great job of clearing tarnish, but it takes everything right down to the crevices and hollows of the details.  A chemically cleaned piece appears nearly showroom bright with hard to discern pattern details.  Over time oxidation will recur in the detailing, but it is a slow process.  Such a heavily cleaned piece is not totally ruined, but its value is temporarily reduced.

For collectors of sterling silver jewelry, for instance spoon rings and turquoise Native American handmade pieces, the patinization of the details is very important.  a14This contrast of silver and black is highly prized.  A purported old piece of silver without the tarnish in the hollows is suspect.  Sometimes I purchase an old turquoise ring for my personal collection that needs to be sized.  I am careful to stipulate to the jeweler NOT to polish the piece.  I learned to do this the hard way after my vintage ring with lovely patina was returned to me freshly cleaned and polished, gleaming like new.

a3I don’t often endorse products, but have found one worth sharing.  A bit of serendipity brought me to this amazing cleaner that easily removes the worst tarnish from silver without destroying the patina. They are called Cape Cod Polishing Cloths and consist of a soft, felted material impregnated with an oil. This oil allows tarnish to only be removed mechanically, by rubbing.  If the cloth does not touch the spot, the tarnish remains.  The black in the hollows is preserved, not chemically stripped away.

This silver polishing product is now my go-to cleaner.  It works on all metals, clearing stains and oxidized areas.  Old gold, pewter, Armetale and stainless can be restored to their original beauty.  The best part is the cleaner works without a lot of endless rubbing and hard work.  I can’t say enough about how much I love my Cape Cod cloths.  They have made my life easier.a7

To polish a blackened piece of silver, first put on some exam gloves and protect the work area.  Wipe the entire surface of the item with the Cape Cod cloth to moisten.  a6Then lightly rub until the surface is cleared of tarnish.  Rinse the silver in warm, soapy water and dry with a soft cloth.  The piece may be further buffed with a jeweler’s cloth to bring out the shine.a9

The finished pieces have a soft glow that is only achieved through age.  Nice quality tarnished silver pieces acquired for very little investment clean up to become attractive inventory in my online stores!a10