Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gale Turnbull’s Coastline Dinnerware for Vernon Kilns

I’ve already declared my love of maps here--and now look what I found:  maps on plates!   The Coastline pattern by Vernon Kilns, from the late 1930s.
Vernon Kilns Coastline-- Michigan dinner plate
I’ve mentioned Gale Turnbull and Vernon Kilns before here when I talked about Don Blanding’s Lei Lani and Hawaiian Flowers patterns.   These plates date to about the same time (1936/1937) and were apparently designed by Turnbull himself.  He seems to have had a taste for the ocean, as he designed this pattern as well as the ‘Marine’ pattern, which depicted sailing ships, coastal towns and other nautical scenes.

Louisiana and Long Island
When I found these plates they were all lined up on plate stands and at first I couldn’t quite tell what they were.  And then I recognized Long Island!   The fragments of coastline are abstracted to the point where, at first glance, even the most familiar locations seem strange (especially when not in a north-south orientation!).
Two California plates--San Francisco and Los Angeles
I have seven 8 ½ inch plates (salad? lunch?) and one larger 9 ½ inch plate.  The design is hand painted (though I would guess that the lettering of the place names was a transfer).  The pattern was used on several sizes of plates and bowls as well as cups and saucers, tumblers, a carafe and other pieces.
Cape Cod
Delaware and New Jersey
There seems to be a shamefully scant amount of information on this pattern.  The book on Vernon Kilns gives a very partial list of the breakdown of what section of coastline is shown on which pieces, and a few images--but I have not found much else (one more image in California Pottery).
Detail of San Francisco
Are there pieces that cover the entire US coastline?  I have seen plates of Florida, but they were in awful condition so I didn’t buy them (which I kind of regret now). What about Maine?  The Chesapeake Bay?  Northwest Coast?  Were the American territories depicted (because you know I’d give my left leg for Hawaii!)?  Could I collect all the pieces and lay them out like a giant outline of the country?  That would make me really happy, it would be like collecting Star Wars cards and I would have to get them all.

Mark on the Michigan dinner plate--the smaller plates just say 'Coastline' and do not identify the location
I have duplicates of some plates and I will offer those in my shop.  Meanwhile, the hunt continues for more Coastline!  Feel free to be in touch through my website if you can point me in the right direction.

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dansk Teak Ice Buckets as Modern, Stackable Storage

I started buying Dansk ice buckets and once I got a couple, I realized how nicely they stack together.   They're all the same diameter and the lid of the one in the foreground fits right into the recessed underside of each design.  These all date from the late 1950s to the mid '60s. 
Each bucket is lined with black plastic and Dansk touted them as good for insulating both  ice and hot hors d'oeuvres.  If I actually had furniture, I would make stacks of these on top of a sideboard, or set into bookcases.

My living room is starting to look like I felled a teak forest, so I will list these in my shop  here.

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Viking Invasion - Dansk Teak Viking Bowls by Jens Quistgaard

Jens Quistgaard was Danish and I get the feeling that he really liked being a Dane.  He was promoted at ‘The Bearded Dane of Dansk’ and lived on a small island in Denmark, never moving to the US despite working for an American company for decades.  Behold his 1958 tribute to Danish history, the Viking bowl.
Danish designers produced many different Viking figures in wood, such as these by Jacob Jensen, circa 1958.  From Modern50.
Viking chic was part of the upsurge in Scandinavian design in the 1950‘s and ‘60s.  Designers in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark produced modern design, but they also looked back to their own rich histories for inspiration and drew upon traditional crafts and folk art to create new products.  The same concept was prevalent here in the US--yes, the 1950s and ‘60s produced modern icons like Eames chairs, but there was also a strong interest in early American design and the quaintness of things like Pennsylvania Dutch culture.
The clever Quistgaard managed to unite the traditional and modern all in one piece.  The simple staved teak bowl is given two prominent handles on either side, reminiscent of the horned helmet of ancient Vikings.
The wider bowl has a curved bottom edge, where the taller bowl has a flat edge. 
This wide bowl one has the four duck mark, and I have another with the earlier ‘Staved Teak’ mark. 
The lower, broader bowl is model 830 and seems to have been the earlier design, as it alone appears in a 1959 Dansk catalogue (and there termed a Viking Bowl).
The taller bowl presumably came along soon after the introduction of the original.  A very similar bowl was also made in muteneye slightly later as part of the Rare Woods line.
The taller bowl was actually a gift to me from my awesome neighbor, Chris.  He found it at a yard sale just around the corner!  I hang my head in shame that I was not clever enough to find it, but grateful that Chris has been successfully brainwashed as to the glory of Dansk.  Thanks again, Chris!
Dansk ad, 1959
Both of these bowls relate in form to the iconic teak ice bucket designed by Quistgaard, which has similarly curved supports joined by a carrying handle.  This piece is came in two sizes and is positively ubiquitous, but strangely, not one that tugs at my heart.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a Dansk ice bucket (and yes, there will be a post on those soon).  Maybe I just need to jump in and buy one to appreciate the splendor…

More next time...

Check out my other posts on Dansk--teak, candlesticks, Kobenstyle, flatware, magazine rack, Festivaal.

I've listed the larger Viking bowl and other Dansk pieces in my shop--see what's in stock here

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lei Lani and Hawaiian Flowers Dinnerware by Don Blanding for Vernon Kilns

Lei Lani and Hawaiian Flowers 9 1/2 inch plates, designed by Don Blanding for Vernon Kilns
I recently discovered the joys of Don Blanding’s poetry and illustrations, as seen in the lovely set of his notecards from the 1940s which I recently purchased and discussed here.  Now I am on the hunt for the dinnerware Blanding designed for Vernon Kilns in the 1930s--and happily, I found a couple plates to amuse me.

By the mid 1930s, Blanding had achieved success with the publication of numerous books of his poetry and illustrations.  He helped propagate the idea of Hawaii as an exotic paradise in books like Hula Moon, The Virgin of Waikiki, and his best known work, Vagabond’s House.
Vernon Kilns was one of ‘The Big Five’ California pottery manufacturers, based in Vernon, just south of downtown Los Angeles.  In 1936, the firm hired Gale Turnbull as artistic director to and he proceeded to hire three popular artists of the day to design dinnerware--Don Blanding, Rockwell Kent and Walt Disney.  (An aside--the Rockwell Kent pieces are awesome and I want some of the ‘Our America’ series and some Moby Dick plates!  The Disney dinnerware is not decorated with Snow White and Dumbo, but surprisingly pleasing all-over patterns of delicate leaves and pinecones.)
The plates I have are in the Lei Lani and Hawaiian Flowers patterns.  They are essentially the same--both use a transfer-printed center and border, but Lei Lani adds hand-painted details.  Both are on the ‘Ultra’ shape plate, very simple with a downward sloping rim and the pattern was later printed on slightly different pottery blanks.
Lei Lani became one of the most popular patterns produced by Vernon Kilns, and was available from the late 1930s into the mid 1950s.  Blanding’s linear style was well suited to this medium.   The dense profusion of tropical flowers has a feeling similar to English Chintzware of the previous decade, but Blanding’s treatment has a more stylized, modern feel.
Each piece in the line was signed with the pattern name and ‘Aloha, Don Blanding’ the artist’s standard greeting (he signed his books this way, too).
Hawaiian Flowers was available in the maroon color I have, as well as blue, pink and orange (the orange version is beautiful, like a delicious Hawaiian creamsicle!).
I’m on the hunt for more of Vernon Kilns dinnerware--in addition to the patterns I have, there is another floral pattern (the variations are called Glamour, Joy, Ecstasy and Delight!) and one with tropical fish.   Blanding’s designs are pretty desirable, hard to find, and not inexpensive...I’ll post on Blanding again as I find more pieces.

I occasionally offer some of my Blanding pieces in my Etsy shop--check it out here.

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Vintage Wedding Cake Stands - Victorian Glass, Milk Glass and More

Two versions of the 'Constellation' pattern by Indiana Glass, 1960s.  The round version is more difficult to find. 
I’ve found some lovely vintage and antique glass cake stands lately, dating from the 19th century into the 1960s.  I sell lots of cake stands in my Etsy shop, primarily to brides who want to use them at their receptions.  I’ve had brides buy a group of four or five different cake stands to display cupcakes and one bride bought ten of the same model to use first at pre-wedding events, then she gave them to members of the bridal party.   Milk glass from the 1960s is quite popular these days, and 19th century cake stands, which come in literally thousands of patterns, have long had a following.
Turquoise blue milk glass cake stands--in two graduated sizes--topped by a tumbler.
Left and center:  Cake stands by Hobbs, Brokunier, Co., circa 1879; right: 'Manhattan' pattern by US Glass, circa 1902
Detail of the Hobbs Brokunier 'Tree of Life' cake stand
EAPG, as it is often called, is short for early American pattern glass--though ‘early’ is a bit of a misnomer, as this type of glass dates from the mid-19th century to 1910.  Pressing patterns into the glass was an affordable way to create highly elaborate decoration, which made these pieces accessible to a broad audience.  Most patterns were made in colorless glass, but some blues, yellows, greens and other colors were used as well.
'Cottage' pattern by Adams, 1870s, and 'Daisy and Button,' likely by Fenton, c 1930
Vaseline glass cake stand, circa 1880
Pattern glass (and 19th-century glass in general) is prone to small specks of sand or ash within the glass (called inclusions), bubbles and sometimes the plate is slightly off level.  Evidence of utensil marks on the top of the plate is also pretty standard.    Condition is always important, but because of the age of the older cake stands, I tend to be a little bit more forgiving of tiny chips in the glass.
Two 'Thousand Eye' cake stands by Adams, 1870s
A great online resource for information on 19th-century glass is many pretty examples are shown!
Thousand eye pattern in amber glass
The popularity of milk glass in the 1950s and ‘60s was at least in part a revival of the earlier pattern glass, with some companies even using the old molds of popular patterns.  Fenton and Westmoreland were the leading manufacturers of milk glass, both creating an opaque, snowy white glass.  Though each cake stand was made in a mold there was a certain amount of hand finishing, which leads to minor variations.  
This is the most popular cake stand I sell--Fenton's hobnail pattern milk glass cake stand, produced from the 1950s into the 1980s
Westmoreland's 'Petal and Ring' pattern square milk glass cake stand, in white and hard-to-find blue
A simple, modern take:  Fenton's 'Silver Crest' on the left and 'Gold Crest' on the right.  The translucent band of glass at the rim could be had in many different colors.
As the name suggests, white was the usual color for milk glass, but most manufacturers produced opaque glass in limited range of colors as well.  Fenton’s line of pastel colors was made only for a short time in the mid 1950s and is very desirable today--especially the turquoise.
A hard to find Fenton hobnail cake stand in turquoise milk glass, mid 1950s.
Blue milk glass was made in the 19th and early 20th centuries as well--the top cake stand is c. 1900, the middle is Fenton's green pastel 'Spanish Lace' from 1954, and the bottom is Fenton's turquoise Silver Crest from the 1950s.
A black amethyst (which is really a very dark purple) glass cake stand
Something important to note--many brides have asked me if I have a vintage pedestal cake stand in a size large enough to accommodate an 18 inch round (or larger) wedding cake.   Unfortunately, I don’t know of any vintage cake stands larger than 13 or maybe 14 inches in diameter, and those generally have space for only a 10 or 11 inch round cake.  Even new glass or ceramic pedestal cake stands can be difficult to find in large sizes because of the limitations of the material (both tend to warp).
Fenton 'Daisy and Button' and Indiana 'Teardrop'
'Colony' by Indiana Glass, 1960s
Don't know the name of this pattern
There are many more patterns and colors that I have not illustrated--these are just a few of the vintage cake stands in my shop or that I have sold in the past.  You can stop by my Etsy shop here--I am happy to work with brides to find just the right piece! 
An unusual Fenton example--no hobnails, no silver crest.  Just plain!
Duncan Miller cake stand in the Sandwich pattern
Cake stand made by Fostoria in the Arlington pattern
Cake stand by Imperial Glass
Fenton 'Thumbprint' cake stand
Lattice border cake stand by Westmoreland
'Teardrop' pattern by Fenton, made between 1958 and 1966
Fenton 'Cactus' pattern cake stand from the 1950s

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg 2011-2015