Identifying Vintage Dinnerware Tips

Vintage Mikasa serving bowl

Vintage Mikasa serving bowl

When you want to get more of your favorite vintage dishes, but don’t know the pattern name, what to do? Identifying vintage dinnerware is one of the challenges of using vintage dishes.

Whether you have new-to-you-dishes, or a family heirloom set, getting more of a pattern you cherish can be complicated when you don’t have a pattern name.

Recently I saw an article about a woman in Philadelphia, known for being a taste-setter in her area. The article showed that she used many modern elements in her style, with the addition of vintage dinnerware from her husband’s family.

Then the article described the two vintage floral china patterns, but didn’t give the pattern names.

The challenge is presented - bring on the dishes

Almost as much fun as the thrill of the hunt, the challenge of identifying vintage dinnerware, in this case only from photos and written descriptions.

(I’ve never had either of these patterns in my store, by the way, so I didn’t have that edge.)

I focused on the hunt online, and had both pattern names in less than 6 minutes.

Believe me, it does not always go this fast, and there are patterns that I have never found, despite lots more time spent searching.

Vintage Noritake relish dish

How to approach identifying vintage dinnerware

The first pattern was described as pink floral with gray leaves, made in Japan. No maker name. In the photo, I saw there was also a gray scroll motif in the rim, which seemed vaguely familiar.

This pattern took longest to find. I went to a favorite replacement dinnerware site, and put in “Japan pink floral gray” as my keywords.

I went through the wares of two different vintage Japanese makers (dinner plates only). The match was under Unknown maker. The pattern name: Elaine.

Why would the maker remain unknown? I cannot be sure, but can speculate that the dinnerware was commissioned by a retail store, to be their exclusive pattern. There are other possibilities.

The second pattern was described as having a central spray of blue flowers and was marked with the maker name, Syracuse. In the photo, I noted that the dinner plate had a blue rim. I searched on “Syracuse blue rim” and the Meadow Breeze pattern came up quickly.

Vintage Syracuse china Polaris pattern

Tips to identify vintage dinnerware patterns

  • One thing I’ve learned from looking at floral dinnerware patterns, most of the time, the flowers and leaves are stylized. The artist took considerable license with nature when creating these whimsical floral designs.

Unless you’re looking at a pattern with roses, daisies (such as the Marguerite bowl in the photo), tulips, daffodils or another well-known flower, just use “floral” in your search.

  • Knowing the difference between rim shapes and coupe shapes is also helpful. Coupe pieces are sleek and have no rim around the edge, unlike the more traditional rim shape pieces.
  • The country of manufacture can also be helpful, as it was for the Elaine pattern china. Some manufacturers made dinnerware in many countries, even pieces in the same pattern. But when you need that pattern name, a country of origin can be the puzzle piece that helps you find it.

Identifying vintage dinnerware is fun and practical. If you’re looking for more pieces for a special vintage dinnerware set, or found a piece or two of a pattern blends well with your mix and match dish collection and want more, having the pattern name makes finding them far more efficient.

About the photos: Yellow floral pattern is Marguerite by Noritake. The daisies are prominent. This pattern is generally marked with the pattern name, on the larger pieces.

The relish dish with a floral vine motif is also Noritake. I have not found a name for this pattern in more than three years. It is marked with maker name and a number, 1384. I can tell by the shapes that it’s vintage. This china may have been commissioned for a particular department store.

The gravy boat is Polaris by Syracuse. It is marked with the maker name. This piece is the same shape as the gravy boat in the Meadow Breeze pattern, discussed above, just decorated with different background glaze and motif.


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