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Antique Noritake

I just had to share these beautiful plates.  They are hand painted Noritake made in Japan.  The porcelain is thin and fine with gorgeous encrusted gold floral crests and scrolls.  The hand painting is amazingly well done.  The plates measure 7.25″ in diameter.  They have minimal utensil wear and some loss of gold to the center and rim bands.  I don’t know how a human could create such meticulously perfect detailing.  The scrolls are all so uniform.

The backstamp is in red and dates to right around 1918, making these plates antiques next year.  I was surprised to find the beauties in a thrift shop.  They were a set of three, but one had a good-sized chip.  I made that into a very fancy underplate for one of my african violets.  The other two plates are for sale in my eBay shop.

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Antique Atterbury Milk Glass Plates

Last week I had the good fortune to discover this set of four delicate white milk glass plates at a thrift store.  It is amazing that such breakables have survived with no chips or cracks.  The pieces were made by Atterbury Glass of Pittsburg, PA.  They are marked on the backs with a capital A.  Atterbury was in business from approximately 1859-1902.  So these plates are antiques.  They appear nearly new with just the slightest scratch here or there from a utensil.

The beautiful open-work borders with their S-shape are so prone to breakage that I was very careful to examine the margins for hairline cracks.  My eyes are getting old, but I don’t think I missed any damage.  This sort of work is termed Early American Pressed Glass, EAPG.  It can be distinguished from later glass by the imperfections inherent to the material.  The glass will have flow lines, straw marks, tiny trapped bubbles and roughness around the edges where the pieces were knocked out of the mold.  As time passed and glass manufacture became more technically advanced, these mars were eliminated.  Thus, in this case the age of a piece can be told by its blemishes.

Atterbury produced tons of milk glass, the company was renown for it.  Some of their most popular pieces included hens and other animals on nests covered dishes, cups, and lacy open work pieces.  This S-shaped lace design has a decided gilded age feel to me, perhaps produced sometime in the 1880s.  This is just a guess.  Information about the company’s production, and especially the marks used, is very limited.  After the company went out of business, some of its molds were apparently sold.  Westmoreland Glass later made an identical pattern under its own mark.

Included in the set are three dinner plates measuring 8 3/8″ square and one salad plate at 7 3/8″.  I paid less than one dollar per piece and hope to realize a sale price of ten dollars each in my online shop.  The last similar one sold for $9 and it was a single plate.

Vintage Hull Art Pottery Bowknot

This recent thrift shop find is a rare sugar bowl by Hull Pottery in the Bowknot or Bow Knot pattern.  It was made between 1949-1950.  This short production run is likely why such pieces are hard to find.  Hull began producing art pottery in the 1920s and by the time this was made they were in their art heyday.  I love the organic lines and lovely muted colors of this pattern.  And who can resist the adorable bow on top?

This is a large sugar bowl, measuring about 5″ high with the lid.  The base can hold a lot of sugar, at least a couple cups!  The sugar bowl is part of a set that includes a teapot and creamer.  Due to the rarity, these pieces can get pricey.  The glaze is called matte but feels smooth and satiny to me.

My find has a 1/8″ chip in the foot and light, fine crazing over most of the body inside and out.  Crazing usually occurs when the glaze and body cool at a different rate after firing.  The glaze shrinks too quickly and something has to give.  I actually do not mind crazing most of the time.  When stains get into the craze, I’ve found that soaking in a strong bleach bath will greatly reduce the stain.

This is what makes scouring thrift shops, flea markets and yard sales such a fun adventure.  I acquired the piece for less than $6, cleaned it up a bit, and have it listed for sale for $30.  A somewhat nicer example with less crazing and no chips sold for nearly $70 recently, so fingers crossed!

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

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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
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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

Kabamaru

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:

https://www.minzuu.com/blogs/meet-our-artisans/17238457-hajime-okamoto-and-the-kabamaru-series

http://www.jref.com/forum/threads/what-does-maru-on-names-mean.14139/

http://www.holymtn.com/Japan/HajimeOkamoto1.htm

http://fareastcynic.com/2008/02/19/cat-art/