A belated tip of the hat to Vintage Love Saturday – Vintage China, Southern Lady’s Vintage blog’s generous shout out for others to join in the fun on her fab blog! When she invited me to participate, I knew I had plenty to dish about, and decided to lay it all out on the table…My name is Susabella and I am an addict.
I’ve been addicted to china for many years; it’s a genetic affliction, a disease, really, passed down through the maternal lines of my family, and although I fought against becoming a collector like my mother, I was doomed. My passion grew and ebbed, and finally coalesced into a deep need to gather Art Deco ceramic earthenware pottery from the Ohio River Valley, namely, Salem Tricorne & Streamline dinnerware…maybe it has something to do with all those ancestors who settled in that area of the country? I haven’t uncovered any potters in the family tree yet, but plan to make a trip to do some research next year. Or, it could just be that Salem created just the coolest shapes ever!
Mom…and Salem Streamline Demitasse Cup in Mandarin Orange
Formed by a quartet of East Liverpool guys (nope, not those guys) in 1898, the Salem China Company produced some of the most iconic art deco dinnerware shapes and patterns. A former Limoges China Company executive, Frank Sebring, Jr., ran the company from 1919–1934, the period during which Salem, in answer to the Art Moderne craze that was wafting over from Europe, created Tricorne and then Streamline. Boldly innovative, both lines* have been featured in museum collections around the world.
Salem employee glazing a creamer, courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society
Don Schreckengost, younger brother of famed Limoges China designer Viktor Schreckengost (who later joined the Salem design team and created many of their memorable mid-century lines), was one of the designers responsible for the creation of this line: he & Frank Sebring patented the triangular plate design in 1935 (U.S. Patent D. 94245 “Design for a Plate”), while Vincent Broomhall & Herbert A. Smith patented the “Sugarbowl or Similar Article” (U.S. Patent D. 96445) and the conical “Cup” (U.S. Patent D. 96722).
Excerpt from US Patent # D.96445
Tricorne featured triangular-shaped plates with a circular center, with a rimmed border of either contrasting solid color (orange, yellow, blue, or green) or metallic decoration (platinum streamlines, gold filigree, etc). The center of the plates was either left blank, as with the solid border colors, or filled with a decal design, like the Sailing Ships, Petit Point Dutch Couple or very art deco Polo Pony with Rider.
Streamline originally featured conical drink ware (regular & demitasse cups, coffeepots, creamers & sugar bowls) with pointy angular “7” shaped handles, and later included the more traditional round plates, as in their “Century” line.
Solid Blue & Green
Streamlines in Platinum
Polo Pony & Rider
Petit Point Dutch Couple
Here’s a lovely floral Streamline set from SnapDragonTacoma on Etsy
Now, these elegant dishes came out right after the worst of the Depression era. Most folks were broke and out of work (sound familiar?) but of those economically difficult times came a brilliant marketing idea, “Dish Night” giveaways at the movie theaters. Salem China jumped on the “one free to each lady” bandwagon with a vengeance, and arranged for Hollywood stars to be photographed using Tricorne dishes. They even got Tricorne/Streamline featured in a scene in the 1934 Warner Brothers film, “Gentlemen are Born”! **
Commemorative Pitcher by the Homer Laughlin China Collector’s Assn
The first Salem piece I owned was the ubiquitous “Mandarin Orange” design, the most common of the Tricorne / Streamline colors, which ranges from a bright tangerine to a deeper reddish orange, depending on the glaze lot. I poked around and realized it was available in other designs, and dove right in. My collection has grown to include the following:
- Solid borders: Yellow, Green, Blue, & Mandarin Orange
- Streamlines: Gold, Platinum, Warranted Platinum Gold Alloy, Harlem Moon in Black & Platinum, Orange & Platinum, & Aqua
- Decal designs: Sailing Ships in red, gray & platinum; Polo Pony & Rider; Petit Point Dutch Couple; Latin Dancers; art deco Floral arrangements
- Custom designs: Playing Card suits for Donahoe’s Cafeteria
but I ran out of space, and my cottage needs a new foundation, so many of these are available for purchase in the Atomic Salem China section of my shop on Etsy.com: http://www.etsy.com/shop/SusabellaBrownstein
I’ve collected this dinnerware from all over the world, and sustained my share of heartbreak when pieces have arrived damaged in transit; I’ll soon post about proper packing techniques for fragile pretties like these!
So, this is what floats my boat, so to speak…what does it for you?
Kudos and thanks to:
* by saying “line” I’m really referring to the particular shape of the dinnerware. “Pattern” refers to the decoration applied to the various shapes.
** see Kathryn Fuller-Seeley’s fascinating essay, “Dish Night at the Movies” in Looking Past the Screen, available in the Amazon box to the right. Also referenced online at http://beauxmondesdesigns.blogspot.com/2009/02/dish-night-at-movie-theaters.html
p.s. I’ll be switching to WordPress soon, will send COA!