Saturday, August 20, 2011

Marcrest Melmac of Chicago Royalon and Stetson: Connected by Melamine

Marcrest Backstamp on Melmac Dishes
One of many Marcrest backstamps, this photo courtesy of oragracevintage on Etsy.
Marcrest Melmac is backstamped Chicago, so I know it was most likely molded there. It has direct relations to Royalon Melmac and Stetson Melmac.  Oddly, all three lines were tired to ceramic dinnerware companies.  A Supermarket Merchandiser for 1962 mentions that Mar-crest was into earthenware, cookware, and plastic dinnerware.  In fact I verified this to be true, and here is a list of MarCrest "earthenware" aka china patterns at Replacements, LTD.  Perhaps you've seen their ceramic dishes, such as this one: 

There is a very informative site on Marcrest China here (Daisy and Dot) and a bonus is looking at the old vintage ads there that shows the dinnerware being sold in so many different grocery stores like Kroeger and IGA.  Perhaps you could buy out right or collect coupons....

Marcrest Divided Bowl
Marcrest divided bowl, in melmac by AtHomeInNapa.
So it seems in the 1960's china companies didn't want to miss out on melamine sales, however odd that they would sell it in competition with their own china lines.  There used to be huge debates in the 1950's and 1960's between china manufacturers and melmac manufacturers about which was better. I think it was more of a war if you read some of the old archives. I do want to add that I've seen Marcrest with several different backstamps and many different cup handles and versatile style. From squarish handles to triangular, from pastels to brights, it was a great line.

Melmac Dinnerware
OraGraceVintage features this great Marcrest Pattern, melamine is rarely seen with such a lovely design!  Love the handles!
Marcrest then was tied into Royalon Inc. as you can tell by the markings on the box below.  This ties into Royal China, who had potters such as Don Schreckengost (yes this is Vicktor's brother) who were hired to create lovely patterns for them. It was announced in 1963 that Don was hired to create and coordinate new product development for Royal China, Inc., and Royalon, Inc. via the American Ceramics Bulletin. It is uncertain if Don designed any of the actual melmac patterns, and perhaps we'll never know. 
Royalon Melmac
Royalon backstamp by QuinlanQ on Etsy .

Corsage melmac by royalon
Marcrest Melmac "Styled by Royalon" box at RetroChalet.

The "Royalon" melmac guarantee indicates that the Royalon company was out of Sebring, Ohio. George L. Traner was President and put his warrantly in with the boxes which also had the care and cleaning tips. One can surmise that Marcrest produced melmac for Royal China Company, and although returns went to the Ohio Main Office , one wonders if replacements would have come from Chicago. Many patterns and solids exist in Royalon, but albeit my favorite was the Corsage which was violets on a white background. The completer pieces and parts of the set were in lilac.
Melmac Guarantee
Original Paperwork, Courtesy: RetroChalet

1950s Melmac Purple Flowers
Corsage Melmac Plates Marked Royalon by QuinlanQ on Etsy.
Come to think of it not many melmac lines used the color purple, perhaps just Texas Ware and Royalon to name a few.....To further complicate the Marcrest melmac saga, Stetson China Company also had melmac again somehow tied into Marcrest .  To understand the melmac history we have to understand what was going on with the company itselt. Hill Housewares indicates that Marshall Burns Company in Chicago, Illinois had Marcrest produced by many manufacturers, with Stetson being one of them due to pattern likenesses (as confusing as it all is.) 
Stetson Melmac
Lovely Stetson melmac set was offered by ExtreamEcclectics on Etsy.

Applying that same theory to the Stetson and Marcrest melamine patterns, we can say that although many shapes were unique to Stetson melmac, some shapes are the same as Marcrest--down to the same creamers, sugars, squarish platters and divided "S" serving bowls (and sometimes the same cups). This indicates the same molds were often used by the same factory.  

Stetson Melmac Dinnerware
CityFleas offers this Stetson.  Note how the bowl is identical to Marcrest!

Originally I had evidence that Stetson melamine was produced by the Lapcor Factory in Manitowoc Wisconsin (who made the late end Meladur...) However, I do not know which came first, the chicken or the egg. We do know however that all of these wonderful lines are still out there waiting to be collected.

Stetson Melmac
Our Vintage House offers this Stetson melamine set.

Melmac Central
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