Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Dishes I Don't Mind Handwashing

I'm not sure how it happened....where it started...this relationship between vintage glassware and me. But it's deep and it's real. A love that will never die. It was my first sign that I should indeed have been around in the '40s and '50s...I could have been June Cleaver with a little edge. My adoration for this glassware has led me back to Rosemary Clooney, Lucy Ricardo, Bettie Page...the music, the just makes you slow down for a moment. I remember when we first looked at this house...the light fixture in the kitchen sealed the deal for me. It is original hobnail milkglass. I knew it was the house for me based on one light fixture.

And I'm not really one of those people that collects a whole lot of "stuff". Don't get me wrong, I'm always on the hunt for great vintage finds (and I use the phrase "on the hunt" very loosely, since it's rare that I go out in the world). There is one thing, though, that I love collecting.

That word "collecting" is bothering me...makes me think of carefully placing odd stamps in a book or lining up Pez dispensers in a custom made display case. That's not what I do at all. The objects of my affection are pieces of Jadeite glassware. When I find a new piece or receive one as a gift, I feel like I'm reuniting a family. A family that worked hard in the 40s and 50s, feeding regular ol' folks like us.

I don't pretend to know everything about Jadeite, nor am I a purist. I like the dishes. That's all there is to it. I am not concerned with scratches and fading. Nor am I concerned with whether its vintage or reproduction. I just like 'em. Let me show you my Jadeite friends, and tell you the little bits I do know. Most of the sought after Jadeite is and was made by Fire King. They had other varieties, but I think (and, apparently, other people think this too) the green Jadeite is the prettiest. Don't get me wrong...I love white milkglass. If it's hobnail (or "polka dotty" if your Homey), even better! McKee also made Jadeite. Their stuff seemed to be more on the utilitarian side, but I'm still learning, so pay no attention to me.

Here is the hoosier cabinet my dishes live in. They just wouldn't be as happy if they didn't have a retro enamel topped home. They told me that.
Let's meet Jane. Jane Ray to be more specific. She's just lovely, with ribbed edges. Jadeite in general is getting pricier and harder to find, but the pieces I still find pretty regularly are Jane Ray.
The Jane branch of my Jadeite family also includes the only real serving piece I've acquired.

Next up is Jane's fancy sister, Alice. The dishes are similar to Jane Ray, but they have a sassy little floral pattern on them, and notched edges.
And lastly we have the third sibling Restaurant Ware. I guess the parents ran out of any creativity when it came time to name him. We'll call him RW, RDub for short. RW is actually my favorite, and of course the hardest to find. It's the quintessential diner dish of the 40s and 50s. It makes me want a cheeseburger or at least a slice of apple pie. RW is thicker than his sisters, with a nice smooth, rounded edge. Check, check it:
And then there are the odd-end cousins, some are vintage and some are reproduction. I actually love the functionality of this piece. I use it for outdoor meals...put a smaller bowl of fruit or another cold side dish in it, surround with ice, and use the lid to keep bugs away! Love it! But it's a repro...per the stamp on the bottom:
Then there's this little cutie. She's repro...I'm pretty sure at least, but we sure do love her!

A lattice and fruit motif? And scalloped edge? I can't stand how adodable she is!

A couple more cousins:

This refrigerator dish is like the world's first Gladware. And it's perfect for, oh you know, the custard that won't fit in the crust for your fruit pie. The cool thing about these pieces are when you find a dish that still has the lid! Think of how many times this poor fella has been moved! Think of how many times that lid slipped out of those dishpan hands and hit the porcelain's a special thing to find a fridge dish with his lid.

And the juicer! Doesn't it look like his name should be Skip? No? Anyway, just the color combination of a lemon or orange against the green Jadeite is enough to make juicing citrus less of a chore.

"Collecting" (ick!) something like Jadeite is just fun because as you're out looking for that perfect midcentury lamp, you can happen across a D handle RDub coffee mug. Or...gasp!...maybe you'll come across a cream and sugar set that have stayed together for 60 years! (If that happens, call me immediately.) It's important to keep the family together, don'tcha know?! And I know my vintage dish collection loves seeing anothing generation put them back to work. They told me that, too!


  1. If you are never going to use it it's a collectible. That's why I don't collect anything. I only have a couple soft spots, one is polish pottery (but if I don't have a functional use for it I don't buy it), hand throw locally made pottery vases that are out of the ordinary, Made in the USA hand blown Christmas tree balls and of course plants that deer do not eat. Ed will tell you I have way too much polish pottery and I could never use all of the vases. So is this an obsession or enjoyment? I've even made it clear to family members to "not" but certain collectibles because I really don't like dusting around them. :-)

  2. This has got to be my FAVORITE post,or is it blog? Isn't the whole site the blog and than these little notes are posts? Whatever, this one is my favorite!! Because YES, I think he looks like a Skip, or even a Chip, he's too cute the little guuuy!

    The more time I spend reading your blog and talking to you the more appeal this era has on me. I can see why you like this stuff. It's all very classy without being gawdy, kinda like you!

    I'll be sure to keep my eye open next time I hit an estate sale!