January 03, 2012

Art Deco Design, European Styling

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 Produced by Mikasa, Erte' Plates is a gorgeous series of collectible bone china decorated with Art Deco designs by Erte, the artist and designer widely considered to be the father of the Art Deco movement. This week's featured plate is titled "Le Soleil," and features a stylized drawing of a fashionable woman done in the clean, sharp, lines and bold colors that came to characterize the Art Deco movement. Erte was born in St. Petersburg, Russia on November 23, 1892. At the age of 22, Erte was offered a job creating cover art for Harper's Bazaar; he went on to illustrate 250 covers for the magazine over the course of the next 40 years. His illustrations also appeared in such publications as Cosmopolitan, Ladies' Home Journal, and Vogue. In addition to his illustrations, Erte designed costumes for both movie and theater productions in Hollywood and on Broadway, and produced art in various other mediums. The Erte' Plates series is a wonderful homage to Erte's artistry, and beautifully represents the craftsmanship and production excellence associated with Mikasa.

Featuring a beautiful variety of polished cuts on a v-shaped bowl that flares magnificently at the top, a multisided stem, and a starburst cut on a round foot, Ashbourne crystal by Waterford is an exquisite pattern. With its elaborate, eye-catching design, Ashbourne is an especially fine accompaniment to Erte' Plates china and Elysee flatware. Waterford Crystal dates back to the Flint Glass Works, founded in 1783 on the quay in the port town of Waterford when George and William Penrose opened the Flint Glass Works. In 1788, Waterford produced a glassware service as a gift to her Majesty, Charlotte Sophia, wife to King George III. The King and Queen were so charmed by the crystal service that they ordered the set to be displayed at Cheltenham castle. Today "Waterford" is synonymous with fine crystal, and is found in households around the world.

Elysee (Sterling) by Puiforcat Silver features a glossy finish and a narrow waist that broadens into an ornate handle adorned with graceful designs and a delicate plume at the tip. French silversmith Jean Puiforcat is widely considered to be one of the foremost silver designers of the twentieth century. Descended from generations of silversmiths, Puiforcat entered the family business in 1920. Puiforcat's early works drew inspiration from early nineteenth-century English silver designs and incorporated natural elements, keeping with the art nouveau style popular at the time. As Puiforcat's career progressed, however, his pieces began exhibiting less ornamentation, and moved toward a more streamlined, Art Deco aesthetic. It was around this time that Puiforcat began to develop a profound interest in mathematics. In a 1927 article, Puiforcat stated, "The weakness of certain of my pieces, that I am the first to recognize, comes from my incomplete education in numbers. My evolution follows my studies in geometry, in trigonometry." Puiforcat's fascination with mathematics influenced many of his silver designs; he was especially interested in employing the golden ratio to guide the proportions of his works. Although Puiforcat employed precise calculations in his pieces, he did so while maintaining a warm, sensual aesthetic. His legacy is one of a silversmith who created functional silver that continues to provide a "poetic sense to geometry."

December 27, 2011

Italian-Inspired Tableware for the Holidays

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Mikasa Italian Holiday features a poinsettia, a spray of mistletoe tied with festive ribbon, and a brass horn decorated with holly. This lovely whiteware is completed with an embossed fluted rim accented with scroll designs and green trim. The Italian Holiday pattern beautifully represents the craftsmanship and production excellence associated with the Mikasa company. In the early 1930s, Mikasa was established as an international trading company based in Secaucus, New Jersey. The company, while wholly American, looked to Japan for inspiration. Named in honor of Prince Mikasa, the youngest brother of Emperor Hirohito, Mikasa soon established itself as one of the most recognized Japanese brand names in the West.

Complementing the elegant Italian Holiday design is the provincial elegance of Mikasa Italian Countryside crystal.  This stunning blown glass design features an embossed, ribbed design on a convex bowl that curves in at the top, a multisided stem, and a round base. One can very easily picture a collection of these pieces being displayed in the tableware cabinet of an Italian farmhouse! Importing merchandise produced by a network of over 150 manufacturers worldwide, Mikasa never attempted to make any of the dinnerware it sold. Rather, the Mikasa branded items were imported from Japan, Ireland, England, France, and Germany. Business exploded in the 1950s, and tableware became the staple business for Mikasa. Customer requests were pouring in from all parts of the country, and department stores including Bloomingdale's and Macy's could not keep enough stock to meet demand. Consumers found Mikasa ceramics to be very strong, versatile, and stylish.

Italian Countryside flatware by Mikasa is 18/8 stainless flatware (18/8 represents the ratio of chromium and nickel used in the stainless steel, which adds luster and durability to the pieces) featuring a glossy finish, and a ribbed design that perfectly complements the Mikasa Italian Holiday and Italian Countryside patterns. By the beginning of the 1960's, Mikasa had established a reputation as "the pioneer of American casual." They refined their product range by introducing new patterns in unique groups known as "lines." For example, the 'Studio Nova' line was produced for the "young-at-heart" casual diners who would likely eat their meals in the kitchen. The 'Home Beautiful' line appealed to those who wanted durability and affordability.  'Christopher Stuart' reflected the taste of the consumer who "wants a broad selection of styles." Today, Mikasa continues to leverage the momentum it has built over the decades since its inception. The exquisite Mikasa patterns showcased here are sure to add a touch of excitement to any holiday table!

December 21, 2011

Festive Tableware, American Artistry

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Lenox Holiday Tartan is a marvelous holiday pattern featuring a graceful plaid ribbon that wends its way amongst holly sprigs and clusters of fruit and nuts. With a festive motif and dazzling gold trim, Holiday Tartan is a wonderful Lenox china pattern for the holiday table! Defined by stripes of alternating widths and colors, the tartan design has become closely associated with Scotland. The word "tartan" is believed to be derived from the French word "tiretaine," meaning a "strong, coarse fabric." Although there is no official record of different tartan designs, there are believed to be as many as 14,000 different designs (known as "setts"). Although it is commonly believed that tartan designs were developed as a form of Scottish clan identification, the idea of each clan claiming its own tartan design didn't begin until around the start of the nineteenth century. Before then, tartan colors were more specific to region than clan, since weavers depended on local, regional plants for the dyes they used in their designs. "Tartanwear," which incorporated tartan designs on a vast array of items, became very popular in the Victorian era. Producing its first complete china sets by 1906, Lenox proved that American china could be as delicate, attractive, and durable as its foreign counterparts, and propelled the United States to the forefront of the ceramics industry. By the end of the twentieth century, about half the china on dinner tables in the United States was made by Lenox.

Gorham Crystal Royal Devon features polished thumbprint and fan cuts, a multi-sided, v-shaped stem, gold trim, and round foot. This stately crystal pattern superbly complements the elegant Holiday Tartan and Francis I china and silver patterns. Gorham, originally known for its high-quality sterling silver, was founded in 1831 on Steeple Street in Providence, RI. Over the 180 years the company has been in business, it has produced a multitude of silver patterns, most notably, Chantilly, a household name, and the best-selling flatware pattern ever produced. In recent years, Gorham has moved into other tableware areas, including the production of exquisite crystal, like Royal Devon, and high-quality china.

Reed & Barton Francis I is sterling silver with fan, plume and floral designs on the handle and heel of each piece that show the strong influence of European Baroque art. Introduced by Reed & Barton in 1907, Francis I quickly became a favorite of nobility and presidents. No less than four U.S. presidents dined with Francis I - Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Gerald Ford. It's truly bipartisan sterling - an equal number of Democratic and Republican presidents have used it on their tables! Reed & Barton of Taunton, MA, traces its origins to a jewelry store founded by Isaac Babbitt in 1822. After changes in ownership, the company began to use the "Reed & Barton" stamp on its silver in the 1840s. Now well into its second century of operation, Reed & Barton is a leader in finely crafted sterling silver and stainless steel tableware.

December 15, 2011

Frank W. Smith Silver "Lion" Carving Set

Introduced in 1903, Lion by Frank W. Smith Silver is an exquisite pattern that features a majestic lion at its tip with crisp, detailed mane and claws that reach around the sides. The back of the pieces feature the back of the crouching lion with more impeccable detailing on its mane and tail. With its eye-catching, detailed ornamentation, Lion is one of the best-known flatware patterns produced by Frank W. Smith, and the 3-piece carving set featured here is a fantastic representation of this magnificent pattern.

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Since ancient times, the cutting and distribution of meat has been at the center of great feasts. In the great banquet halls of medieval castles, the knife was the most common utensil - many guests would arrive with their own. The carving station was a prized station in the household, presided over by a skilled worker who exhibited civility and good breeding, as well as (one would imagine) a certain degree of showmanship. Carving at the time was an elaborate process, governed by a variety of rules, special knives, and instruction on how to carve each different animal. An entire book dedicated to the art of carving, "Boke of Keruynge," was published in 1508 by Wynkyn de Worde, and a 1581 text by Vincenzo Cervio, a famed Italian carver of the time, explained how to carve meats as they were held by the fork in midair, in an elaborate tableside show. By the 1700s and 1800s, carving was considered an important skill, one passed down from fathers to sons.

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As meals became more informal during the nineteenth century, the importance placed on the art of carving began to wane. It became an acceptable practice to carve while sitting down, and the duties of carving shifted from the "head" of the household to others. By the mid-nineteenth century, as the practice of "service a la francaise" (where every item of a particular service was brought to the table at once) was replaced with "service a la russe" (in which food items were precut and plated before coming to the table), the responsibility of carving passed from the host to the kitchen staff. Still, the head of the house was expected to employ a certain degree of carving aptitude at informal gatherings. A 1908 text on etiquette states: "At a formal dinner, all carving will have been done outside of the diningroom. At an informal, or family dinner, where the food is placed upon the table, the host is expected to attend to the carving, the acquisition of which art is most desirable by every gentleman. The carving knife should be well sharpened in advance. The carver naturally becomes the helper, and he should indicate for whom he destines the first plate, having previously asked what cut is preferred."

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The Frank W. Smith Silver Company was founded in 1886 in Gardner, Massachusetts. Its founder, Frank W. Smith, had previously learned the silversmith trade from his uncle, William B. Durgin. Initially, the company only produced sterling silver flatware. When Smith decided to expand his production to hollowware in 1889, he hired one of the company's first (and arguably most successful) designers, Arthur J. Stone. The company excelled at producing both machine-made products, using state-of-the-art equipment, and handmade wares crafted by individual artisans. The business grew rapidly - by 1892, Smith had doubled the size of his original factory. The Lion pattern was designed by Pierre J. Cheron, who began working for Frank W. Smith in 1901. In addition to designing Lion, Cheron also received acclaim for his hollowware designs, including a punch set for the USS Louisiana battleship. Upon Frank W. Smith's death in 1904, the company was taken over by his son, William D. Smith. In 1958, the company's tools and dies were sold to the Webster Company, a subsidiary of Reed & Barton.

December 13, 2011

Happy Holidays!

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Spode Christmas Tree was designed in 1938 by English designer Harold Holdway for Spode's North American counterpart, Copeland and Thompson. Since Holdway had never seen a Christmas tree decorated in the American style, his original sketch depicted Christmas presents hanging on the tree's limbs, like ornaments. When he was told gifts in America were placed under the tree, he revised his sketch to reflect that tradition. He did manage to leave a unique touch, however. Since he did not realize that most Americans used angels or stars as tree toppers, Holdway placed a figure of Santa Claus atop his tree design! While the unique design created some concern among Holdway's North American colleagues, it was commissioned for production. The results have been spectacular - Spode Christmas Tree-Green Trim is the most popular of all the more than 360,000 patterns carried at Replacements, Ltd.!

Duncan & Miller First Love is blown glass with intricate floral designs etched on the bowl and a shapely ball stem. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Duncan & Miller got its start in 1865, when George Duncan bought the Ripley & Company glass factory and created Duncan & Sons, a partnership between Duncan and his sons, Harry B. Duncan and James E. Duncan, and his son-in-law, Augustus H. Heisey. Later, John Ernest Miller joined the company as a designer, and, during the next 52 years, would become world renowned for his glass designs. Around 1892 Augustus Heisey left Duncan & Sons to start his own glass company in Newark Ohio. The period from 1893 to the closing of the plant in 1955 is generally known as the Duncan-Miller period, although the partnership was not official until 1900, when the firm was incorporated as Duncan & Miller Glass Company. The handmade glass at the Duncan & Miller Glass Company was distinguished by the artistry of design, the skill of the workers, the batch formulas, and the lovely colors of their glassware. Many of the Duncan & Miller pieces required ten or more people to create each piece. Duncan & Miller ceased production in 1955, as machines and assembly lines made the production of handmade glass unprofitable. Duncan & Miller glass is now highly sought by collectors.

First produced in 1951, International Silver Old Charleston is an alluring sterling flatware pattern with an elegant floral motif, a scalloped tip, and a glossy finish. International Silver started as a combination of America's greatest silver manufacturers. During the American Colonial period, New England was home to many artisans producing high-quality pewter, sterling, and silverplate, primarily in Connecticut. Around 1808, Ashbile Griswold opened a pewter shop in Meriden, Connecticut. Through mergers with regional companies, Griswold's original shop grew to comprise fourteen silver manufacturers, including Holmes and Edwards (Bridgeport), Meriden Britannia (Meriden), and Rogers Brothers (Hartford). In 1898, the International Silver Company became truly "international," establishing offices in England and Canada. Throughout the years, International Silver products have remained immensely popular.

December 01, 2011

Golden Accents for the Holidays

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Lenox Holiday (Dimension) is classic cream-colored porcelain featuring a design of vibrant green holly sprigs and iridescent red berries with wide gold trim. Number 2 on the list of the 20 best-selling holiday patterns at Replacements, Ltd., Holiday (Dimension) offers a wide range of place setting, serving, and accessory pieces. It's one of the most festive and versatile patterns in our inventory. Founded in 1889 by Walter Scott Lenox in Trenton, NJ, the "Staffordshire of America" of its time, the Lenox Ceramic Pottery Company produced art-quality pieces. By 1897 examples of Lenox's work were displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. In 1918 President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson commissioned a set of Lenox for the White House, making it the first American china to grace a president's table.

Rogaska Richmond (Gold Trim/Multi-Sided Stem) crystal features beautiful polished crisscross cuts on the bowl and starburst cuts on the foot - it's gorgeous! Rogaska was founded in 1665 (that is, more than 100 years before America's founding fathers convened in Philadelphia to sign the Declaration of Independence) in the mountains of Slovenia, a region long recognized for its glass making. While Rogaska uses modern technologies and processes, the heart of the company's production has been constant since the 17th century - the individual glassblower and glass cutter, devoted to the aesthetics of their work. With generations of skilled artisans in its employ and world-class crystal designers creating new wares, Rogaska is admired in the crystal industry for unwavering quality and magnificent design.

Golden Ribbon Edge is high-quality stainless steel by Gorham Silver. Edges feature rope design gold-colored accents - this stainless will look at home on the most formal of dinner tables. Gorham Silver was founded by Jabez Gorham in 1831 in a shop on Steeple Street in Providence, RI. Born into a family of eight, Gorham had been apprenticed to 18th century New England silver patriarch Nehemiah Dodge at an early age. After founding his own company, Gorham quickly established a reputation for hand-crafted silver of the highest quality. Gorham Silver produced flatware for the White House of Mary Todd Lincoln, a silver vase for Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, and Gorham Chantilly sterling was used aboard Air Force One during the presidency of George H. W. Bush.

November 29, 2011

Terrific Holiday Tableware!

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Lenox Holiday (Dimension) is classic cream-colored porcelain featuring a design of vibrant green holly sprigs and iridescent red berries with wide gold trim. Number two on the list of the twenty best-selling holiday patterns at Replacements, Ltd., Holiday (Dimension) offers a wide range of place setting, serving, and accessory pieces. It's one of the most festive and versatile patterns in our inventory. Lenox China is a great American success story. It was founded in 1889 by Walter Scott Lenox as "The Lenox Ceramic Pottery Company." By 1897, examples of the company's work were displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. In 1918, President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson commissioned a set of Lenox for the White House, making it the first American china to grace a U.S. president's table.

Produced from 1965 to 1977, Lenox Crystal Georgetown (Gold Encrusted) features a multisided stem, a round foot, and a wide band of gold trim on a squarish bowl that flares at the top. This dazzling, gold encrusted crystal perfectly complements the Lenox Holiday china and Kelly Gold flatware patterns. Since the 1950s, about half the china set on dinner tables in this country has borne the Lenox backstamp.  Responding to consumer demand, Lenox introduced a line of hand-blown crystal to complement its china in 1966.  In 1991, again responding to consumers, Lenox began to produce silver flatware, making it the first company in America to offer the complete tabletop.

Kelly Gold by Lenox Flatware is an 18/8 stainless flatware pattern (18/8 represents the ratio of chromium and nickel used in the stainless steel, which adds luster and durability to the pieces) featuring a glossy finish with gold accents and a whimsical, graceful design. Born in 1859, the founder of Lenox, Walter Scott Lenox, was named for the nineteenth-century Scottish writer, Sir Walter Scott. Lenox grew up in Trenton, NJ, the "Staffordshire of America" of its time. With excellent transportation and good sources of fuel and clay, the state capital of New Jersey became the nation's leading center for ceramics production. Lenox first organized his company as an art studio, producing one-of-a-kind pieces for a select market. By 1906 the company was producing complete sets of dinnerware, and Lenox tableware and gifts remain hugely popular today, more than 120 years after the company's inception!

November 22, 2011

Exquisite Thanksgiving Tableware Design

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His Majesty by Johnson Brothers is high-quality, rimmed, scallop-shaped earthenware, with a regal tom turkey spreading his plumage in the center of the plate, and an embossed rim strewn with nuts, fruits, berries, and vegetables, all colored  in lush earth tones. The outside rim features a thin, painted cable design. Designed from an original engraving, the tom turkey on His Majesty made his first appearance as an accent plate in the tremendously popular Johnson Brothers Friendly Village multi-motif pattern. Demand for the accent plate was so great that Johnson Brothers introduced His Majesty just two years later. Customers have enjoyed the quality and durability of Johnson Brothers china since 1882.

Fostoria Jamestown-Amber is amber, pressed glass with a concave, squarish bowl that features swirling, spiral panels on the side. The twist stem echoes the shapes of the panels on the bowl, and the foot is round. Even with its square shape, the curves in this pattern are organic and graceful. Founded in Fostoria, OH, in 1887, the Fostoria company relocated to Moundsville, WV, shortly thereafter, because of that region's abundant natural resources. Jamestown-Amber was one of four colors in the Jamestown pattern to be released in 1958 - green, amber, blue, and clear - additions to a line of popular colored-glass stemware introduced by Fostoria in the 1920s. After meeting decades of stiff foreign competition with classic designs and innovative glass-making methods, Fostoria operations were shut down by its parent company, Lancaster Colony, in 1983. Fostoria glass is highly sought-after by collectors today.

First produced in 1940, International Silver Joan of Arc is an alluring sterling flatware pattern with an elegant and flowing scroll design. International Silver started as a combination of America's greatest silver manufacturers. During the American Colonial period, New England was home to many artisans producing high-quality pewter, sterling, and silverplate, primarily in Connecticut. Around 1808, Ashbile Griswold opened a pewter shop in Meriden, Connecticut. Through mergers with regional companies, Griswold's original shop grew to comprise fourteen silver manufacturers, including Holmes and Edwards (Bridgeport), Meriden Britannia (Meriden), and Rogers Brothers (Hartford). In 1898, the International Silver Company became truly "international," establishing offices in England and Canada. Throughout the years, International Silver products have remained immensely popular.

November 15, 2011

Charming Thanksgiving Tableware Designs

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His Majesty by Johnson Brothers is high-quality, rimmed, scallop-shaped earthenware, with a regal tom turkey spreading his plumage in the center of the plate, and an embossed rim strewn with nuts, fruits, berries, and vegetables, all colored  in lush earth tones. The outside rim features a thin, painted cable design. Designed from an original engraving, the tom turkey on His Majesty made his first appearance as an accent plate in the tremendously popular Johnson Brothers Friendly Village multi-motif pattern. Demand for the accent plate was so great that Johnson Brothers introduced His Majesty just two years later. Customers have enjoyed the quality and durability of Johnson Brothers china since 1882.

Gorham Crystal produced the dazzling Cherrywood-Clear pattern from 1960 to 1999 - a testament to its timeless appeal! Cherrywood-Clear features crisscross and fan cuts in a bowl that flares at the top, a multi-sided stem, and round foot. Gorham, originally known for its high-quality sterling silver, was founded in 1831 on Steeple Street in Providence, RI. Over the 180 years the company has been in business, it has produced a multitude of silver patterns, most notably, Chantilly, a household name, and the best-selling flatware pattern ever produced. In recent years, Gorham has moved into other tableware areas, including the production of exquisite crystal, like Cherrywood-Clear, and high-quality china.

Introduced in 1970 and still in production today, Towle Queen Elizabeth I sterling showcases classical scroll and plume design that perfectly complements the His Majesty china and Cherrywood-Clear crystal patterns. The history of Towle Silver is rooted in the Moulton family of England. The company is founded on the craftsmanship and artistry of the Moulton family of England, who over six generations of silver making, raised their artisanship to a high art. A young man named Anthony Towle would join William Moulton IV as an apprentice. When Moulton retired, Towle and a partner, William Jones, bought the Moulton family stock and formed Towle & Jones in 1857. With such a long history and distinguished tradition, Towle's Queen Elizabeth I is a pattern that resonates with skill and pride in craft.

November 10, 2011

Splendid Patterns For A Glorious Table!

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Rothschild Bird by Herend is one of the most admired multi-motif patterns in the world. It features a scalloped shape with gold trim, along with an embossed, ribbed, and fluted swirl design on the rim and verge of the plate. For the center design of the pieces a variety of intricate bird designs are available, with a scattering of gloriously colored butterflies adding a perfect chromatic touch. Established in Hungary by Vince Stingl in 1826, Herend has long been renowned for the quality of its porcelain. By the middle of the 19th century, the company's wares had been recognized at international exhibitions in Paris, Vienna, and New York, and many of its early designs were named for the nobility purchasing the patterns, as with the famous Rothschild Bird.

In the magnificent Strawberry, Diamond & Fan crystal pattern by Hawkes, the goblet flares at the top, has straight sides, with dramatic, polished criss-cross hatch cuts on the bowl in small strawberry and diamond shapes, topped by a fan shape, and a wafer stem and square foot. The many facets in the crystal cuts in this pattern make for a most dazzling table! Thomas G. Hawkes was one of the founding partners in Steuben Glass Works, organized in 1903. Hawkes owned a large glass cutting factory in Corning, NY, but was dependent on outside sources for his designs. When he joined forces with Fredrick C. Carder, an enterprising Englishman who was a glass designer, Hawkes with Steuben Glass Works at last had formed the self-contained design house that had been his goal.

Tiffany & Co.'s sterling silver pattern, English King, features a scalloped shape, with an outlined, beveled edge, with clusters of honeysuckle leaves and an intricate shell design at the end of the handle. Patented and introduced in 1885, this sophisticated design remained in production until 1955, with only a brief suspension of manufacturing in the war years 1942-1943. English King is a prominent jewel in the crown of Tiffany & Co.'s design excellence. A wide array of place and serving pieces are available in this classic pattern from one of the most storied silver makers of all time.