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Friday, October 26, 2012

Oneida Melmac Kids Melamine History Value

Oneida Melamine
Oneida Peter Rabbit Bowl available at MollyFinds

The town of Oneida, is located between Utica and Syracuse in New York, Oneida is one of the companies who has stood the test of time. Sadly in 2005, it's products would no longer produced in the USA as they had been dating back to 1881. I had the pleasure of visiting their factory outlet store in Oneida prior to the transition to overseas operations.

Oneida Melmac
This is a super rare Oneida Deluxe covered sugar bowl boasting kiddie logo available at Posh Rock Vintage. 

It was interesting to see the factory rejects, seconds, and overruns that had been produced in the good old USA. From ceramics to glassware to it's flatware,  the outlet store had it all. Oneida Limited originates from the 1800's religious Oneida Community, it's claim to fame no doubt it's silverware and utensils. Oneida produced everything from wartime parts and weapons to medical forceps. No easily accessible records exist as to when Oneida decided to move into the melamine market-although proof exists of them mass producing full size dinnerware from the 1960's to the 1980's. Much you read about the company's history is unclear and although I've written to them several times over the years I pretty much gave up.

My Opinion: Oneida Transitioned into Melmac Because of Kiddie Sets

Truth be told, the research I have done indicates that Oneida did much advertising of their kid's boxed melmac sets prior to their full sets--which of course included a boxed set with their children's flatware.  Perhaps this is an indicator that their transition into melamine dinnerware could have started here.  The kid's sets were very popular and marketed with fairy tales and popular characters coupled with kid's flatware. One of the earlier designs is this Bozo-lookalike clown.

Oneida melmac ad
Ad from August 1960 shows the kid's sets--here a clown set which looks like a Bozo clown. Cost: $4.95
Oneida saturated the market with children's sets.  They used popular characters Holly Hobbie (American Greetings), Raggedy Ann and Andy (Bobbs Merrill), Wizard of Oz,  The Three Bears, and lots of fairy tale designs. You'll find everything from the unknown to  Puss in Boots which (suggesting they started production in at least 1960), continued for over three decades in the US alone.

In 1962, a manual on Home Economics for teachers and students talks about Oneida's "new melamine". Could this be a reference to regular size dinnerware hitting the shelves? I'm not sure.  It could have existed before, but when you look at full size designs you'll see many patterns indicative of the 60's and 70's.  It is my opinion if you ask me which came first the children or the egg, it's the children.

oneida melmac melamine
Here is a nice example of a full Oneida kid's set dating back to 1969 - available at heckamom

1978 General Mills Wizard of Oz? Plate (General Mills) by outofthepinksky

What is the collectible value and worth of Oneida melamine children's ware?

Market:   You have children's dinnerware collectors and melmac collectors both wanting them. Silversmith collectors may be looking for boxed examples of early children's silverware making boxed sets hard to find. Not to mention the children of the 1960's and 1970's may want to have a set like they had when they were little.
Oneida melmac plate
QueenChlorine offers this Puss in Boots bargain $5, it does have scratches but is adorable nonetheless.

Value: Truth be told the kiddie sets were mass produced, but finding them in mint shape are challenging.  It appears more plates and bowls have survived than mugs, probably thanks to Junior throwing them across the room and their handles breaking off.  Obviously a mint in box kiddie set would fetch more than anything, and early and original paperwork will be sought after by the markets above, making their value under-timed.  Currently on Etsy, you can acquire bowls and plates which show little wear for average of $18 each. More scratching, fading, or more popular designs sometimes fetch between $6-$12 per item.  Rare is the covered sugar bowl above.  Mugs generally fetch $8-$20 based on design. Assembling a set like you had when you were a kid (near mint) may run you $30-$60 or up if you have to piece it out .   Perhaps the memories of eating on the dishes back when you were little, mom cooked, and life was easy is simply priceless.


Kitchen Wall Decals

This post is sponsored by Kitchen Wall Decals. Make sure to visit them for cool and retro designs to spunk up your kitchen. It it advertisers like them who keep me writing and motivated to bring you this free information so make sure to visit them and find all kinds of peel and stick wall decals to make your room transform into something cool. They have everything from coffee cups for the kitchen to cool vintage planes for your kid's room. Check them out!

If you liked this Oneida melmac post, you may also enjoy reading:

The Oneida Story
All My Posts on Oneida

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