My guests arrived; and as I basked in the compliments of how festive everything looked, a dear friend enticed by “Tom’s” aroma, decided to look in on him… and discovered he’d been cooking on preheat and would not be gracing our table at the appointed hour. Not a problem… being culinarily challenged, Id prepared for the unexpected, filling my rare orange Bauer Ring beer pitcher with libations and a three-tiered Metlox server with hors d’oeuvres.
October is only one of 12 hand painted earthenware lines Franciscan made in America. Other popular patterns include Apple, Desert Rose, Ivy, Forget-Me-Not, Poppy, and more. Coronado is another favorite, enjoyed by collectors for its distinctive wide swirled borders in satiny pastels.
Franciscan’s modern ‘50s patterns like Duet, Oasis, and Starburst are popular now. I found Duet’s jumbo oblong salad bowl ideal for salad entrees, served on plain pink El Patio plates. [Another cooking tip: it’s important to snip the roots off that prepackaged organic lettuce before you rinse, spin and toss!]
Small collections of two or four place settings work well for more intimate gatherings. One of my favorites, Desert Rose, looks great when accompanied with solid color pieces of Coralitos by Pacific. The floral patterns depicted so delicately on Desert Rose, with the decidedly warm pastels, provide an enticing presentation for veal flambé. [A word of caution: if the brandy does not ignite the first time, do not add more brandy and attempt to flambé again. Trust me on this!]
Pacific also produced a line called Hostess Ware in bright colors to
compete with Bauer’s Ring Ware. The bright orange casserole or the pie
plate in delphinium blue with the wooden handle are handsome, practical
additions to any collection. Pacific’s large, solid color chop plates are
handy for the holidays.
Ring Ware was Bauer’s most popular dinnerware when new in 1932, and remains so with collectors now. Vivid colors include royal blue, Chinese yellow, light blue, orange-red, grey and the rarer black or white. The simple but effective pattern of concentric rings graces over one hundred shapes, delighting avid collectors. Other Bauer patterns include La Linda, Monterey Moderne, and the recently rediscovered Al Fresco, produced in pale pastels speckled with gray. Bauer even made some great bean pots!
I like using my latest ‘find’ when I entertain. My friend Susan couldn’t wait to see what tempting piece I’d come up with at my last dinner party, and I didn’t let her down; late in the evening, I brought out a newly found Bauer Ring jade green coffee server. This remains one of her best-liked pieces.
Metlox also offered dinnerware that you can mix and match over the years. Remember, there are two rooster lines: Red Rooster in shades of orange and brown, and California Provincial in green and maroon. There are three farm scene lines: Colonial Homestead (same colors as Red Rooster) Provincial Homestead (same colors as California Provincial), and Provincial Blue.
Metlox also produced hand painted designs like California Ivy, Apple, and Strawberry, and embossed designs like the raised Sculptured Daisy pattern that curls lazily around the rim of the plate.
Wallace China sold Westward Ho lines to restaurants, which are now quite collectable: Boots and Saddle, Rodeo and Pioneer Trails. Rodeo was recently reproduced when western themes became popular; new pieces are not marked Wallace. The pitchers are particularly rare and great finds for western buffs.
My favorite new discovery this season is Weil Ware. Their high-contrast 50s designs include Blossom, Dogwood, and Bamboo. The square plates are a great size for luncheons and leftovers.
Clearly you don’t have to be a great cook to enjoy and collect dinnerware. Santa Anita’s 1949 variety of large, vibrant Hawaiian Flowers, set against a plain white background look marvelous on a wall in a decorative plate holder.
The array of California dinnerware colors and patterns is nearly endless. So throw open those cupboards and fill them with your favorites! Life is the banquet- surround yourself in beauty and enjoy the feast! -Stephanie Conan
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