April 8, 2005 in Features

Readers are bullish on old china

Cheryl-Anne Millsap The Spokesman-Review
 
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Last week, I wrote about the stacks of sturdy Buffalo China in my kitchen cabinets, purchased from a large historic church’s annual rummage sale.

In response, readers served up a heaping helping of stories about their own restaurant china collections or memories.

Madge Fackler wrote about the colorful Buffalo Pottery bowl that has been in her family since she was a child:

“As a little girl it was used so much and I had to stand on a chair to do dishes, but I always washed it so carefully.”

Since she got the bowl from her mother 30 years ago, she hasn’t used it much – it’s too precious. But she’d like to know more about it.

But Jeanne Anderson uses her collection of Buffalo China a lot.

“I’ve been collecting the Buffalo China ‘Lune’ pattern for about 15 years and have accumulated more than 60 pieces,” she wrote. “This pattern is a beautiful robin’s-egg blue and I have platters, grill plates, cups and mugs and vegetable bowls.”

Anderson found most of her china antique hunting and garage sale-ing in Washington, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. She especially prizes the tiny butter pat dish her husband found in a tiny shop in Moses Lake.

“I love using these pieces to serve hearty, comfort foods in the fall and winter months and I enjoy displaying them in my old oak hutch in the kitchen,” Anderson wrote. “I keep my eye out for them wherever my husband and I travel, and I find them just often enough to keep me interested in the hunt!”

Carol Bellinger loves restaurant china, too, and her passion for the heavy crockery grew from a practical solution to a problem:

“In 1975, it was our family’s turn to host Easter brunch,” she wrote. “We had only six place settings of dinnerware but the group was three times that.”

Bellinger borrowed silverware, but she didn’t want to have to use paper plates for Sunday dinner.

“My husband had the great idea of checking out a restaurant supply store and that’s how we came to be the owners of 12 second-hand oval dinner plates from the Mexico pavilion’s restaurant at Expo 74.” After 30 years, Bellinger still has 11 of the plates! (I told you. The stuff is virtually indestructible.)

Now, Bellinger scouts thrift store and antique malls for more of the commercial china. “I’ve limited the pieces I’ve picked up to ones that are either white or white with green, but beyond that, anything goes.”

Her last find was a cereal bowl that matches a stack of dessert plates she has collected. She loves the low prices and finds it easy to be creative.

“Let’s see now, if we served cheesecake on the plates, wouldn’t that bowl be just perfect for the raspberry sauce?” she asks. “It’s only $3. We’d better get it.”

I know just how she feels. It is very satisfying to get a good deal on something as basic as a simple bowl to hold hearty homemade soup, or a plate for home cooking like meatloaf and macaroni and cheese.

In addition to the more everyday pieces of my Buffalo China, the plates, platters and bowls, I have to admit I have a weakness for the tiny creamers.

Although they were designed to hold a dollop or two of cream for those bottomless diner coffee cups, when my children were small, one of my tiny creamers might be used as a pitcher at a dress-up tea party, or pressed into service as a vase to hold a single flower, or weed from the back yard, that had been picked by little fingers.

Now they are perfect for a coffee-for-one tray taken onto the patio, or a surprise breakfast in bed.

Resources

Restaurant China: Identification & Value Guide for Restaurant, Airline, Ship & Railroad Dinnerware, (Volume 1) by Barbara J. Conroy. Published 1998, Collector Books. List price $24.95.

Restaurant China: Identification & Value Guide for Restaurant, Airline, Ship & Railroad Dinnerware, (Volume 2) by Barbara J. Conroy. Published 1999, Collector Books. List Price, $39.95.

Calendar

The 12th Annual “Mom’s Weekend Antique Show” in Pullman will be this weekend. Hours are today from 3 to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Gladish Gym on Main Street. Admission is free. Dealers include Sherry and Ted Folk, Susan Heise, Lisa Reichart, Warren and Bonnie Smith, Jolene Laven and Barbara Feil. Items for sale include vintage jewelry and clothing, textiles, dolls, ephemera and small furniture.

Salem Lutheran Church, at 1428 West Broadway Ave., will hold a rummage sale Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Items to be sold include furniture, collectibles and vintage clothing.


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