Time to wish my vintage china blog another happy birthday!
For year No. 7, I decided to go with some vintage clear glass, a theme that’s a little more Big Girl than some of the prior, younger years. Just like you might have something new when your daughter reaches the seventh birthday milestone.
I’ve got a soft spot for glassware, especially the beautiful vintage pieces you can find in any thrift store or estate sale.
Glass is tough, because so much of it is not marked. I cannot tell you (yet) the names of the patterns for the pieces shown here. I just pick up what I like, and go from there.
Here are a few things I’ve found:
- Glass has color, even if it’s clear. Some is bluer, some warmer. I generally favor the cooler clear glass, as that’s my preference, but it is a personal choice.
- The motifs and shapes are all over the style map as well. Sometimes I go for the simple shapes or geometric motifs, other times the floral. In a table setting, I find that settling on one style makes it easier to coordinate different patterns.
- I approach glassware in the secondary marketplace with a watchful eye, and fingers. I assume any piece I’m considering has a chip or a crack, and I look and feel carefully for those. I may buy a piece with a flea bite, but I want to know about it before I make my final decision.
- None of my vintage glassware ever goes in the dishwasher. (Nor my vintage china.) I’ve written about this before: dishwasher haze. It is disappointing to see wonderful pieces when I’m shopping that have been sandblasted in the dishwasher, and will never be clear again, unless they are wet.
Special Birthday Glassware
The glass cake plate and other pieces shown in this post are all recent purchases.
- I liked the cake plate because it’s flat, easy enough to slide a cake on, out of the bakery packaging. And it has a variety of motifs in the glass, so it can go several directions to complement other glassware pieces. The center is a sunburst or sunflower, the next band has dots, and the outer rim has geometric lines - all finished off with a gently scalloped edge.
- The small plate charmed me by its clarity, and the shimmer that it has in the light. (It gets to show off the piece of cake.)
- The swirl glass piece also intrigued me. It caught my eye from the first, with its a fine clarity, which it something I look for, as it says to me that the glass is high quality. This piece is also footed. It’s small for a cake plate, but a giant cupcake would go quite well on this. And a small cake and this little stand would make a wonderful gift for the vintage lover who has everything. (In this case, that would be me.)
Vintage glassware is just another way to have your cake and eat it, too, in a manner of speaking. Use it for any occasion, or every day, and enjoy it before, during and after.
And so, Happy Birthday, Diary of a Dishie! Here’s to many more years of collecting and enjoying the use of vintage dinnerware and glass!
A question from a reader, Beck, prompts this post. Do you ever see dishes in the marketplace that look a lot like your favorite pattern?
And, when you flip, you see a frilly scroll mark with “made in China” under it.
Probably not the match to grandma’s china.
I’ve seen this kind of mark on dishes a number of times in my travels. I’ve never bought them, though they look perfectly fine.
When I want my favorite patterns and brands, I know the marks to look for.
Beck’s grandma’s china reminded me of a Noritake pattern that I’ve seen, called Inverness. This is a vintage dinnerware design from the 1960s era, made for about 15 years. It has a lot of charm and classy style. It was made in Japan, like the Noritake china of that time.
Noritake has also made dinnerware in Ireland and other places over the years, depending on when.
If you’re looking to match a favorite vintage dinnerware set, check the marks, and that will tell you a lot, before you head out to shop for those special pieces.
Depending on your purpose, you may be okay with dinnerware that approximates those special patterns. Or "faux" may not do, and you want only the real deal.
Thanks, Beck, for asking!
(PS...both photos in this post show genuine Noritake's Inverness pattern china, not an approximation pattern.)
I just cannot resist those trays of Danish sweet rolls at Costco. And what better way to serve them in sweet, small bites than some vintage dessert plates?
In this case, the plates are in the Maytime pattern by Franciscan.
This is an uncommon pattern, from the 1960s, during the period when Gladding McBean produced Franciscan in the USA. Retro style and pretty colors. What’s not to like?
- Just some of the reasons I can think of, why pastels remain popular:
- Light color palette has an open, springy feel
- Sweet colors complement and soften details of other color schemes, such as a red and white Valentine’s Day table setting theme (watch those pinks though)
- Charming for a tea table or dessert and coffee party, based on almost any theme
Small plates like these (6 1/8” in diameter) are great for serving all kinds of small desserts and tidbits.
That’s one reason when I like to collect this kind of vintage china. Many of these older yet charming patterns work just fine to create an eclectic tea party table, and if you’re into dinnerware like I am, they are great as a conversation-starter, too!
Small pastel plates are great for Valentine’s, Easter, Mother’s Day, or anytime that charming floral and light-colored dinnerware will add to your table setting.
When you want to chase away the winter blues, just bring out the pastel dinnerware!
Old friends come in the form of vintage dinnerware, as well as people. They are the china and dishes that you remember from childhood, from grandma’s house, or those pieces and patterns that connect to happy memories from days gone by.
Pfaltzgraff makes a number of patterns that have been made for more than 40 years, including the Village pattern platter in the photo.
This warm custard yellow china platter, with a brown verge and folk art-inspired motif, is just one of my “finds” from recent thrift store shopping.
I like the inviting colors, which work well with a table setting based on bold earth colors.
The platter has high sides that are practical when serving food, especially those favorite foods that are juicy, like savory meats or a pile of vegetables.
These older pieces are often in good condition, without utensil marks, because they were made to withstand use over time.
A vintage platter like this has seen many family dinners and parties in its time.
I’ve spoken with many other dish fans who look for the older Pfaltzgraff pieces. Perhaps it’s not got quite the fan base as the old Fiesta pieces, but its followers are loyal. How cool to find that piece of vintage Pfaltzgraff that you’ve been seeking!
I call this mark the “tall castle” because it’s elongated. This is one of the older marks to look for if you want to collect some vintage Pfaltzgraff, made in the USA.
I enjoy using my dishes, and this “new to me” Pfaltzgraff platter has joined my collection of wonderful vintage dinnerware!
Two of my favorite vintage china patterns are based on calm and classic color palettes that work well for a holiday table setting.
Why? Because blue, silver and gold - on a white background - work so well with the monochromatic color palettes I like for the holiday season.
If you like to base your holiday décor around these colors, and enjoy vintage dinnerware, you might like these dishes, too.
The subtle details in these dinnerware patterns caught my eye from the first time I saw them: the silver, blue and pine elements in Duchess by Style House, and the gold, turquoise and funky mod details in Berkeley by Noritake.
These sleek patterns go well in my favorite holiday table setting, and I complement them with more modern accessories, like the Martha Stewart blue and silver topiary bell tree, and some white cloth napkins, also from her product line.
If you only have a few pieces of vintage dinnerware patterns like these, you can play them up in various ways:
- Use a charger under the plates or bowls, in silver, gold, blue or turquoise, depending on which pattern you’re using
- Feature evergreens in your centerpiece, along with blue and silver candles and ribbons, for Duchess
- Bring out the gold flatware, napkin rings, candle sticks, or ornaments, for Berkeley
(This works for grandma’s set of china, too, especially if it’s no longer complete.)
Berkeley is the older pattern, dating from the 1950s to 1960s. No surprise, it’s harder to find in my experience, even on Internet shopping sites like eBay or Replacements.
The shapes of serving pieces in the Duchess pattern, such as the creamer and sugar, tell me that this is a design from the later 1960s into the 1970s.
Both these high-quality wares were made in Japan.
Keep Your Vintage Dinnerware Bright
If you’ve read this blog for long, you know my opinion about washing vintage dinnerware and glassware.
No dishwasher for either of these beautiful dinnerware patterns! When I use them, hand washing keeps the metallic edges bright, as well as the rest of the finish. And I get to enjoy looking at my dishes, once again.
If you must wash your china in the dishwasher, go with dinnerware that was made in the past 10 or 20 years.
Happy Holidays Go Vintage
Duchess and Berkeley are firmly in place on my permanent shopping list for vintage dinnerware and fine china. The hunt continues, on those days when I get to visit thrift stores and estate sales, and think about the next holiday dinner to come.
I’ve been in the grocery store a lot lately, and seen ladies with their lists, checking off the items they need for their holiday party menus.
(Sorry guys. I know some of you plan, too.)
They are planning for the food they’ll serve for special days coming soon: Thanksgiving and Christmas among them.
I wonder if they are planning for their dinnerware and serving pieces as much as the cooking.
I’ll bet many of them are.
Having the right dinnerware and serving pieces is all part of pulling off an enjoyable holiday dinner. (Planners know the benefits of forethought. Some say picky. I say wise.)
Deviled egg plate. Check. Casserole for that green bean dish. Got it. Pie dishes. Ready to go.
In my case, it’s a handcrafted pottery baking dish, about one quart size. This can be used for clam dip, oyster dressing, or serving scallops. I got it years ago at a ceramics sale at the local community college. I don’t use it often, but when I do, it’s a conversation starter.
This charming dish is out of storage, in time for the winter season.
Plan Your Menu - And Your Dishes
It’s easy to take your party planning one more step (if you haven’t already) and check to make sure you have the serving pieces you need for all the wonderful food that you’ll be serving.
- Make a shopping list for dishes. I have my “permanent shopping list” for vintage goods. It helps me keep track of what I’m looking for, and especially like those occasional pieces like jam jars, pickle dishes, gravy boats, serving bowls in my favorite patterns, and small platters. You don’t use them every day, but when you need them, you need them.
- Set your table or buffet ahead of time, including the serving pieces. Then go down your menu and decide where you will place each item. This helps expose any holes in your dinnerware collection, while there are a few days left to remedy those gaps.
- Remember the flatware serving pieces. Have enough pie servers, slotted spoons or small ladles for sauces, pickle forks, spreaders for cheese balls? The right flatware makes it so much easier for guests to help themselves when it’s time to eat.
Small or large, using the right serving pieces will make it easy to bring your food that last step, from the serving dish to the plate.
Happy guests, relaxed hostess. Part of the recipe for a successful holiday party!
The simple beauty of white dinnerware is classic. You cannot go wrong with a table setting based on this elegant color.
Some tones are creamy, some are bright, but no matter the specific white shade, the impression is understated and refined. The differences in the white tones give texture to your table setting, when you mix different wares together.
I also like the way that food looks on white and light-colored dinnerware, because I enjoy how tasty it looks, as a prelude to eating!
Monochromatic color schemes are calming, too, whether on your dinner table or elsewhere in your home.
White dinnerware patterns in sleek and modern shapes coordinate well with each other, as do those that feature traditional shapes. I’ve got a mix of shapes in the photo. Some of the most modern shapes are vintage, with Mid-Century Modern influences.
I pulled this collection of dinnerware together in just 5 minutes. If I dip into my china storage, I know there are other examples of white dishes tucked away.
Clockwise from the top left:
- Dinner plate in the Winter Frost White pattern by Corelle (made for more than 40 years)
- Small oval plate by Homer Laughlin, restaurant ware
- Grab It bowl with nubby handle by Corning Ware
- Small oval casserole in the French White pattern by Corning
- Jam jar in the Heritage pattern by Pfaltzgraff (made for more than 50 years)
- Salad plate and lugged cereal bowl in the Savoy pattern by Noritake (vintage 1950s-1970s)
The longevity of these patterns demonstrates that white dinnerware is popular and timeless.
The plain white Corelle is a workhorse at our house. It’s easy care, sturdy, and goes in dishwasher and microwave. For quick, everyday meals, this dinnerware works well for us.
A basic white color palette makes it easy to add some sparkle with crystal and flatware, to tailor your table setting to any particular event and menu, as you wish.
A white theme also makes it easy to mix vintage and new pieces, to help make all the place settings you might need for a special dinner with extra guests.
I’ve written about other white dishes before, in particular:
Whether you cook for a few or a crowd, prefer formal or casual meals, or need specialized piece types to suit your menu, there are white dinnerware patterns that will help you create the table setting that will need your needs, and your style.
And if you have special, colorful serving pieces, or a spectacular centerpiece, the white look will help you show them to fullest effect.
When you're choosing your next dinnerware pattern, you cannot go wrong with white!