I love to see folks “go retro”, and this summer while at a yard sale, I heard one of the best stories. A woman came in and bought four pieces of old restaurantware, plates from various dining places. The lady at the check-out counter/card table asked her if she was a dealer. She responded with, “No, I use each and every one of them.” I came up to her and asked if she really served her family with these dishes and she told me, not just her family, but guests as well. She went on to say how very solid and strong they are, having served people for years and not even a chip or a ding! She thought it was great fun to pull out a Woolworth’s coffee shop plate and put a steak and potato on it. She also served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the neighbor’s kids, placing them on plates from a high-end restaurant in the area. What a hoot!
It did make good sense; they are so durable and really make for good conversation pieces. In addition to restaurants, collectors like pieces from fraternal groups such as the Elks, Masons, Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias, made by famous companies such as Buffalo China, Syracuse, Shenango, Rim-Roc, Mayer, and Scammell. I know you can find them at consignment shops, antique malls, flea markets and the like. I scrambled downstairs to see what I might have of interest and did find some fun dishes.
While checking inventory, I came across silver plated creamers, even a gravy boat, from serving establishments. These were very popular back in the day (probably 1920s and 30s) when hotels and restaurants did their best to impress their guests. Evidently, these were slipped into more handbags than we want to know, right?
My favorite was from the “O’Connor Hospital”; who would not like to pour cream out of that one? Perhaps someone saw their hospital bill and thought “they owe me this!”
A little sauce dish that I discovered was made by Wallace Silver Co., for the Wisconsin Club. This is a highly-respected, very expensive, members-only institution in Milwaukee and one that a dear friend of ours belongs to. He’d be totally impressed if I served gravy in this.
Another hotel piece I found was a small teapot from the Jolly Hotels. Not sure where they are located, but it would surely bring back a memory to someone. I checked on the name found on this cream pitcher from the Fallowfields Cafe and learned these restaurants were in England. I recall we bought this at a boot sale in Bourton on the Water, UK.
The prices for restaurantware are inexpensive, most likely in the $10-15 range. The silver plated creamers are more costly, probably in the $20-50 range, depending on the location. The most expensive pieces are from railroads or cruise ships and have held their values well.
In this day and age of recycling and “re-using” it makes sense to search for these pieces, which are also dishwasher safe. You probably won’t want to use these creamers for serving, but they do add charm to any table or curio display.