Saturday, September 13, 2014

Finding Vintage Melmac Melamine EstateSale.Company For Vintage Plastics

Where to Find Melmac
 Old magazines found at estate sales have great ads!

Melamc and Melamine , or Vintage Plastics, Where Is the Best Place to Find Them ?

I've taken a few month hiatus from this RetroChalet blog, as I was busy with events this summer, and life in general. I'm baccckkk and will be writing about melmac, melamine and more. Stay tuned! But first to answer a lot of messages I've received. The number one question seems to be how to find collections of melmac, or how to get started.   The best places to find vintage melmac and melamine, besides flea markets and thrift stores, I'm a big advocate on Estate Sales!

Thrift Store Melmac Melamine Baltimore
 The Thrift Stores Near Me are Getting Pricey, This One: Joppa Road Baltimore.

There is a new website on the web called Estate Sale Company which pulls estate sales from Facebook, Twitter, and the Web that may be in YOUR AREA. What a better place to look for melmac and melamine than there?  Not to mention find a bunch of other great kitchen or decor items to retro-fy your home. Estate sales are fun and a must-do on my weekends off.  You can sometimes put together a whole pile of plastics for a few bucks!

EstateSale.Company is always adding new estate sales, so never know what you will find.  Generally speaking when the amount of "treasure" left from someone's estate is too overwhelming, an estate sale is had.  Sometimes these are had by professional estate companies or individuals.   You can browse their featured Estate Sales to see if find any "kitchenwares" if you are specifically looking for melmac and melamine. For instance, one sale specifically highlights tools, so that's a must have for the vintage tool collector.

Estate Sale Finds
 It is possible to find a whole set of melmac dishes cheap at an estate sale.

Plastic at Estate Sales 

You can find some great plastic fantastic finds, from antique plastic scoops, to Bakelite jewelry, TexasWare bowls and melamine dinnerware, to retro plastic toys.  I've seen old rubber mats and dish drains (nabbed a pink one!) also.  I also find that most estate sales seem to price plastics and melamines lower than the pottery, ceramic, and china.  Maybe they consider it junk, I don't know, but that's lucky for us and unlucky for them!

Top Five Places to Score Melmac or Melamine or Vintage Plastics

1. Yard Sales    Items can be found cheap and inexpensively.

2.  Church Bazaars  Home of the 25 cent deals


3. Estate Sales Get a whole box for a few bucks


4. Thrift Stores  Getting Pricey but Still Finds to Be Had


5. Etsy or Ebay or Online Antique Malls  Last resort- Dealers will charge near book value


Antiques at Estate Sales estatesale.company
Note: This Auction Coming up October 4th is Loaded with Plastics and is in NY. 











Thursday, March 20, 2014

New Russel Wright Residential Melamine Review Melmac Dinnerware


Russel Wright Residential
Go to see this here at Dwell Store.

I ordered some of the new Bob's Your Uncle Russel Wright Dinnerware. I have to say I was curious to see if I could tell the difference and being a Russel Wright melmac collector I was forced to break down and get some.  This is my review. I wasn't paid for it nor did I get any free melmac, and of course this is just my opinion. Now, the line was remade in four colors what they call:

White
Black
Aqua
Lemon

I spent about $100 and ordered the creamers and sugars in each line, large and small tumblers. Not bad really, for pristine melamine. The packing came and I was surprised. It was packed very well.  The label indicates the items shipped from Martin Yeeles, the owner of Bob's Your Uncle.

Russel Wright Melmac Packing Materials
 A+ on Packing

At first glance I was in shock because it's exactly if I was looking at brand new off the line Russel Wright Residential from 1950!  The black is a dead ringer for the original Black Velvet without the flecks in it. I actually have some of the original 50's Black Velvet that is missing the flecks, apparently the factory was getting lazy or not mixing in the "real aluminum dust" correctly.  So if you are comparing some old Black Velvet that barely has the flecks visible and new Black it's almost as if you are seeing double.  Your only noticeable difference would be the backstamp.


Russel Wright Black Backstamp
Backstamp on New Russel Wright Residential (URGH that does say Made in China)

The new Russel Wright says it's dishwasher safe. I would not put this in the dishwasher but I know plenty of people who do put new and old melamine in their dishwasher. he scuffs you see on the base came that way, probably from the factory polishing the base.  Most people would not pick up on the subtle differences but for sake of comparison I got out the fine tooth comb.  The noticeable differences are the thickness of some mold lines.  Overall a great job in molding!

My big pet peeve, is I hate the words "Made in China" under Russel's name. For me, to see a great American designer's name with the words "Made in China" underneath doesn't feel quite right. It's degrading, in my opinion.  The sugar bowl was $26, and I think if it's made in China it's worth about $2. Don't get me wrong, it's wonderful they are remaking the line, but I would pay more to see it made in the USA. The Prolon factory is still making melamine here in the USA, so there are places. Sure, the profit margin may be less for stores, but you could boast "made in USA" and charge $40 for the sugar bowl to cover higher production costs.

Base of Russel Wright Tumblers
This is the base of the Russel Wright Tall Tumblers
This is a comparison of the tall tumblers. New on left and old on right. The new's baseline is a bit more protruding and curvy. The thickness of the tumblers themselves and sizing is pretty dead on.

Russel Wright Residential Melmac Tumblers
Aside from the base mold lines, these tumblers are pretty similar.
Let's talk about the colors. As I mentioned the Black is very pleasing to the eye, but this White was a huge disappointment. It is truly a light shade of beige. Some of the photographs on the online stores you can buy from shows it as an off white, but most of the pictures I saw looked WHITE.  So I don't understand why the White is actually off white aka beige or cream. You can see the colorization issues here against the white paper.

White Residential Creamer is Actually Beige
The White is not White, it's beige or cream.

Now since I'm a lover of all things Russel Wright Melmac, I am not going to "dwell" on the fact this is not white, but it was upsetting as I'm not a big beige fan. So I worked it into the house somehow...and in some shots due to my camera's glare it does look more white. Only when you set it against a true white surface can you tell it's really cream. My walls are cream. It blends in nicely.

new Russel Wright made in China Melamine
White or Cream? You decide.


Russel Wright Residential Creamers from Bobs Your Uncle
Very nice modern design, but this thanks is owed to Russel Wright. 


Recap on Colorization New versus Old: 

The Black is solid black and pleasing to the eye. The original Black in the 50's was called Black Velvet and it had flecks in it.  I always heard stories of people in the West getting great noticeable flecks in their Black Velvet, but here on the East Coast a lot of my Black Velvet was missing the flecks. I started thinking I was getting seconds?

The White is not white and in my opinion should not have been called  Cream.  In the original 50's line there was Granite White which was mottled and short lived due to staining. It's been one of the hardest sets for me to acquire in full. Solid white was found in limited quantities in the Home Decorators line, I wondered if that was a special order or a fluke, but I do have some pieces. 

The Aqua seems to be very close to the 50's Home Decorator's Teal, though I am only looking at photographs and do not have examples in front of me. The original 50's Residential Turquoise would have been mottled and a shade off. 

The Yellow seems to be very closet to the Home Decorator's Yellow/Lemon, though again I'm only looking at photographs and do not have examples in front of me. The original 50's Residential Lemon Ice was mottled and muted. 

Residential Russel Wright Design

Here's my objective opinion and official review: 

PROS:

For $100 the selection I obtained was not a bad deal. 

The items were shipped and packaged very well. 

The designs are reproduced as close to the original Russel Wright molds as they can be. 

It is a plus that the colors are not exact to the originals which gives them their own character. 

Being a new line with all pieces produced, it would be easy for someone to to assemble a set.

They are dishwasher safe.

CONS:

I was upset the white was not at all white but beige/cream.

There are no stores near me who carry it so I had to mail order and pay shipping. 

The Made in China stamp makes me cringe.


Russel Wright Tumblers Melmac

Big and Small Russel Wright Tumblers
With that said, the pros outweigh the cons for people looking for a dinnerware set.  I can't really say that I personally be buying more of it, or acquiring examples of the other two colors for my collection. For me, I just can't get past the Made in China part. I try to buy American as much as possible unless it's a necessity and so, had this been made in USA then I'd probably be buying at least one piece of each for my collection regardless of pricing.    I would even be happier if it was made in neighboring Canada or Mexico. Therefore I think this will appeal more to the design-trenders. Those looking for cool design but not necessarily caring where it's manufactured. Finding that niche may be hard for this line to survive.  

I do think the small tumblers would look lovely holding fresh flowers and the large as well. I can't wait for this winter to be gone to find some fresh violets to put in the cream tumbler. As for the large, I've already tried it out: 

Flower Vase Russel Wright Melmac
Melmac Tumbler: Make a Vase Just Add Flowers

Speaking of flowers, special thanks to Vancouver Florist, who sponsored me writing this review. Did you know they deliver premium flowers,roses, gift baskets, fruit baskets, Belgian Chocolates, Birthday Cakes and Mylar Balloons across Canada and the USA? Call 604-558-0303 or visit http://www.floristvancouver.com 

Maybe we can get them delivering flowers in Melmac? 

Thanks for reading. You can go here to read all posts on Russel Wright melmac.