Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Melmac Dinnerware 1962 Christmas Department Stores

Melmac 1962
Find out how to get these great items below!

We know the fun melamine of the fifties is never ending, but what about the 1960's? Yes, indeedy, it was still going strong.  Just imagine, living back then and nearing the holidays. Not having Amazon or Ebay , or Etsy to search on, you would have quite possibly enjoyed a coffee or tea and then having opened a Reader's Digest.   

Melmac Starter Plates on Etsy
This look screams 1962*. Set of 5 plates $8 @ RiversideTradingCo on Etsy.

An old marketing book refers me to this:   "The Melmac® Dinnerware spread in the Reader's Digest's 1962 gift insert was a huge success".  This was reported by a gentleman by the name of Ernest K Hunt, who was the Merchandising Manager in the Plastics and Resins Division of American Cyanamid in 1962.  He was indicating that inside brochures are often ripped out and taken (with) by smart shoppers. 

Melmac Patterns from 1962
Melmac Patterns from 1962: Lots of flowers and wheat, thinner styling.

Melmac Patterns from 1962

Melmac Patterns circa 1962

I can only imagine from this, that housewives rushed out to buy (quite possibly for themselves) a new set of superior melmac dishes.  Perhaps they ripped out of the insert and handed it direct to their husband so he would bring home the most perfect gift.   When I see old melamine dinnerware, right away I notice the dishes of the 60's appear in a different color palette and different thickness of the original. Perhaps many manufacturers decided to cut the original bulky designs of the 50's and / or production costs were higher for the materials.  

However, I love the names, and some manufacturers I don't see often: 

  • Golden Glory by Royalon
  • Floating Leaves by Stetson
  • Whispering Pines by Harmony House
  • Sunburst by Lenoxware
  • Rambling Rose by Brookpark
  • Autumn Glory by Newportware
  • Windblown by Kenro
  • Folklore by Oneida
  • Summer Idyll by Miramir
  • Enchantment by Metro
  • Curry by Durawear
  • Dellwood by Prolon
  • Mayan by Texasware
  • Regal Leaves by Mallory

1962 Melmac Insert

An insert from 1962 from a Magazine, to show you some 60's designs.  

According to one magazine, The Department Store Economist  already trained their salesman hard in January 1962 store associates were ready in the beginning of the year for that coming holiday.  They write "Of course you have to have a good display of Melmac quality dinnerware on your shelf...where its beauty will catch a woman's eye as she passes by. (Allow about 2 seconds for those attractive patterns to turn her head ...stop her dead.) "   The book goes on to indicate that you have a 58 second sales pitch including answers to popular questions. 

somerset boontonware huge melmac set fromtheseller
Amazing 60-ish* wheat design by Boonton Molding Company in Somerset Style, find this whole set 41 pcs for $78 at shop FromtheSeller on Etsy.

Note: * The designs  noted with * above are not guaranteed to be 1962, but are reminiscent of the look of 1962 based on ads and brochures available.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lapcor General American Meladur Custard Cups Melmac Samples Part One

General American Melmac and Lapcor Custard Cups

Lapcor and General American Meladur Custard Cups

Recently I acquired a very rare set of Melmac Color chips. These most likely came on a ring and were shown to customers to choose common colors for their melmac.  Here is the set of 50. I love them so much!

Color Chips Melmac
There are 50 chips most likely color samples of popular blends on keyrings back in the day.

I spoke with fellow Plastics Researcher Christopher McPherson who runs the awesome Plastic Living website, who suggested I try to date the chips based on the color matching.  So , I pulled out some of my melmac (which now lays boxed up thanks to a multi-state move) and found these custard Cups.

Meladur Custard Cups Color Matching
Meladur Color Cups , Color Matching

More on Meladur Custard Cups

First let me indicate the custard cups are hard to find, and I have collected some with backstamps of General American circa 40's and later Lapcor. They are the line of Meladur, first created by Russel Wright for General American under the GATX Meladur Russel Wright label. However, I can never prove or disprove they were or weren't a Wright design. I saw some similar indication in Syracuse that may indicate this custard cup was thought of by Wright, yet the feet were designed differently.   It is my opinion the item was in the works but in the middle of contractual disputes and non-renewal, so the company nixed the feet and produced it anyhow.

Meladur Custard Cup Melmac Central
1940's Blue Color is a Perfect Match to early 1940s Meladur color!

Not one I have NEVER found any signed Russel Wright and I feel they are an after-Wright creation. Why? The feet are not ribbed as his were. He created feet that were ridged for easier drying and stacking, which the design of the feet was later dropped when the line was sold without his name (after contract). After GATX finished contractual disputes, they sold the entire line with molds to Lapcor who continued to produce the line in many colors, some vibrant and lovely.

Yellow Meladur Color Sample

Nevertheless, I have collected them as a go-with and shown above are three original Russel Wright colors.    As you can see, two of the three match the color samples perfectly.  The blue tends to be melmac sample "BB171" and the pale yellow matches exact yet the code is scrubbed off and I will never know but appears to say "XX 103", of course the XX being letters I cannot make out .  The tan, or almond color is a hue off.
Meladur Tan

The tan sample matches close but not perfectly. 

So now I pull other colors to see if I can match. Here's what I end up with.  The tan above does not match exactly and is one slight hue off. However, with only a 50 chip keyring is it not possible that other colors existed on a master keyring full of hundreds of chips?

Meladur Green

The dark green common on Meladur and Boonton does not match exactly but appears to be a hue off all the samples, black being shown in the center. 

My research notes in Syracuse indicate Wright's Meladur colors, he tried many and even put some pieces in the oven to see when they burnt and at what temperature, believe it or not.   Many color codes he copied down and tried to make custom colors.

(((However, some of the same colors on Meladur (dark green and also an earlier maroon) are also common on Early Bootonware. Surely discontinued due to major scratching visibility. )))

Melmac Central Color Chips
See all the greens, n a ring of 50 it's hard to find an exact match.

In conclusion, I cannot for certain date my color sample ring yet can say that it matches the early blue and yellow perfectly. These blues and yellows originally debuted in the 1940's on Meladur, Boonton and many other dishes. 

MY GUESS:  1950-1953

If I had to fathom a guess, based on my research, I would give it 1950-1956 possibly learning towards 1950-1953.  I would deduce this suggestion based on the fact that a) it's a 50 chip ring and not all samples wer included in the ring, because of lack of customer interest. Thereby elimination of the dark green and maroons (color scratching), and tan on it's way out (feedback circa 1946-1949).  Although this could certainly be a 1940s basic starter ring missing some colors, I would guess  by the looks of the pretty vibrant blues and yellows shown above, that the colors are circa 1950-1953, keeping some of the popular older colors but adding some new for the uptown housewife. 

What do you think? Leave a comment +Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer  or tweet me   twitter.com/iramency

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