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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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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Texas Ware Employee Story by Derrel Lyon

Texas Ware History from Someone who worked there
Texas Ware bowl by That Retro Chick on Etsy.
This story was left to me on one of my articles. I share it with you now and have made only minor typographical changes. It's stories like these that give good happy vibes on Texasware history.  Thank you to Derrel Lyon for sharing!

"My Story by Derrel Lyon"
I worked in the molding department at Plastics Mfg. Company (makers of TexasWare) from 1972-1980. My dad Bill Lyon worked there starting in 1946 at the Trunk Avenue  plant and ended up working there as a quality control supervisor until 1980 at the Westmoreland Rd. location. 
It was sometime in the late 1950s when the new plant was built on S. Westmoreland in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas, Texas. The compound finishing (melamine raw material) building was added in the 1960s. 
As a quality control supervisor, my dad was the one who looked over the rejected, pre-molded, melamine pills to be ground together to be used for the speckle ware mixing bowls. (like the one above) , 
Some were solid color, but most were whatever he selected of several colors of rejected melamine material put into a grinder and reprocessed into pills to be molded. As a molder, I occasionally was assigned to work the steam heated, compression hydraulic press that molded the mixing bowls. Since the melamine pills for the mixing bowls were made from rejected materials, about a fifth of the bowls that were molded had big bubbled places where the plastic "popcorned" .These bowls were totally rejected on the spot, by knocking out the bottom of the bowl on the corner of the metal work table, and then thrown into a bin.
Editor Note: OMG. Imagine all these imperfect lost melmac bowls !
Dallas Ware was the heavier, more commercial use products ( mixing bowls, lunch trays etc.), while Texas Ware was the lighter weight home dishware.   
Dallas Ware Lunch Trays
Dallas Ware made a whole slew of industrial products for schools and cafeterias. These trays are from MizRed Etsy shop.

The dinner plates with the varied designs were made in two steps. Eight (hockey puck shaped) melamine pills were heated in a (very early version) microwave oven, then each pill was placed in the center of double stacked molds. The press closed with a huge, powerful, hydraulic scissor jack. 
After closed the dishes cured in the mold for about a minute. When it opened, silk screened overlays (with the designs printed on them) were placed on top of each dish plate, and the mold closed again for about 30 seconds.

The dishes were then removed from the mold using compressed air. The excess plastic (flashing) around the edges was knocked off, and at the end of the shift the stacked dishes were carted to the finishing room to grind and buff the edges. My brother worked in that department! 
I know some machines and molds were already being shipped to Mexico by the early 1980s which was the beginning of the end for Plastic Mfg Company.

Thank you so much Derrel Lyon!

You can find TexasWare on Etsy, see some sellers below who sell TexasWare, search their shop or click on the photo to go to Etsy to find some texasware!
Texas Ware for Sale on Etsy