Vintage Feature – A Sentimental Look at American Life through “People” China Patterns

Southern Vintage Table Vintage China Rental NC

This elaborate china pattern features a very popular Godey print!

I love flowers on vintage china patterns – pinks, blues, yellows and greens in floral motifs are beautiful to behold as you sit down to your dinner meal. And, although flowers are lovely, I also appreciate non-floral china patterns decorated with images of roosters, funky shapes and people. As I looked through our inventory at Southern Vintage Table I realized that we had quite a few “people” patterns and decided it would be interesting and fun to see these all together!

Let’s start with the Godey print china patterns portraying Victorian life. I researched this Colonial couple a while back and discovered that this print actually came from a magazine called Godey’s Magazine and Lady’s Book.  According to Wikipedia, the magazine was printed from 1830-1898 and the editor during most of that era was Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

The magazine is best known for the hand-tinted fashion plate that appeared at the start of each issue, which provide a record of the progression of women’s dress. Publisher Louis Godey showed off that in 1859, it cost $105,200 to produce the Lady’s Book, with the coloring of the fashion-plates costing $8,000.[15] Almost every issue also included an illustration and pattern with measurements for a garment to be sewn at home. A sheet of music for piano provided the latest waltz, polka or galop.

Wow! Can you imagine how exciting it must have been to get this magazine every month with the hottest fashions, a dress pattern and the latest music hit? Well worth that $3 a year subscription price, right? Read more about the influence of this magazine on American culture – I learned that wearing white on your wedding day, putting up a Christmas tree and even the celebration of Thanksgiving became popular traditions because of this publication! Get more details in the Wikipedia article – it’s a fascinating read!

Apparently this print featured above was very popular when you consider how many different china companies used it as their center design. I looked on a popular china replacement website and found at least 37 different china patterns with this one print!  Companies like Limoges, Sebring Pottery, Homer Laughlin, Canonsburg, Harker, Cronin, Stetson, Sheffield, Royal, WS George, Salem and Crooksville all had this print on at least one pattern – in fact, several had it on multiple patterns. I wish I knew how all these china companies ended up with this one Godey print, so if anyone out there can enlighten me, please do!

We also have four china patterns with a similar look from that same time period – the first is a Godey print and the other two are very similar.

This look was popular through the mid century. I found a Salem China’s advertisement from 1945 featuring the Godey print pattern with this comment.

“Every meal becomes an “occasion” when your table is set with Salem’s Godey’s prints. Faithful color reproductions with all the charm of Godey’s Lady’s Book.”

Now let’s take a look at another view of American life in this series of “people” patterns that were popular mid-century through sometime in the 1980s. Farm and rural life are depicted in many china patterns; perhaps the most well known are the Currier & Ives patterns from Royal China and Scio. The landscape scenery is the main focus but there are folks in there, too! The blue pattern is made by Royal China, the green by Scio and the last one is by Metlox Poppytrail, All three china companies were once thriving industries in America – Royal China and Scio were located in Ohio and Metlox was in California.

What I love about these rural series is that each of the china pieces in a pattern have a different scene so the entire set works together to tell the story – a multi motif pattern. For instance, the blue Currier & Ives has an Old Grist Mill on the dinner plate, the salad plate has an image of Washington’s birthplace and the cereal bowl shows a schoolhouse covered in snow. How delightful! Here’s one resource that you might enjoy about Royal China and the Currier & Ives series. By the way, I learned from Wikipedia that Currier & Ives were not the artists of the prints; they owned the printmaking firm that produced the artwork.

The final “people” plates are two that portray early American History. The Liberty Blue series is also multi-motif with the dinner plate showcasing Independence Hall and the other is called Old Church Tower Jamestown Blue by Adams China. It features images from this settlement and portraits of John Smith and Princess Pocahontas!

As I researched and wrote this blog, I became more deeply enthralled with the work of the artisans of the china and dinnerware industry. Their artistry is encapsulated in a piece of china for generations to enjoy at the family dinner table. How cool is that?

We have these patterns and others in our inventory at Southern Vintage Table! Give us a call or send an email to find out how we can help make your next gathering special and memorable!

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Southern Vintage Table Vintage China Rental NC


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