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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Collecting: Souvenir Plates

I've heard, for several years now, that eclectic wall displays are really "in." I've seen vintage framed paint-by-numbers, nautical themed art groupings, embroidery hoops, etc. I've also been seeing a lot of plate walls on decorating shows.

I didn't try hanging these vintage souvenir plates on my wall--for one thing, I don't own any plate hangers. Instead, I just tried laying them out on a table to get an idea what it would look like. My conclusion? I would need a few more of these to make it work. ;)
I've heard that plate hangers cause damage to the plates.  Got any ingenious ideas for displaying them?

The best part of collecting these vintage souvenir plates is that they are both pretty and a nice walk down memory lane.  They bring back family vacation memories for me, anyway.  How about you?

So far, I've only gathered four vintage plates with this style of rim--a sort of gold filigree over a solid background.  I've decided to list them all for sale, as soon as I get some research done.  I have identified one (the Illinois state plate) as Taylor, Smith, and Taylor, but a few of these others look more like a Homer Laughlin product.  I've never seen one with a fluted edge like the New Mexico plate.

 They just don't make souvenirs like this any more!  I've never seen tourism souvenirs this nice, and I have done a lot of state-to-state travel.  Usually, these days, they are made out of plastic and are specific to individual sites inside the state.  They usually end up in a drawer or box somewhere. Wouldn't want to box these things, though!

I've got several family members living in New Mexico right now, but I have only seen Carlsbad Caverns, of the sites shown on this plate.  One of these days, I'll get to visit the other parks.

Okay, when I saw the Denver one, I seriously thought about keeping it. My sister told me she wanted it, too (she was visiting the thrift store with me).  But, you know, I think I will still be listing it in my store soon.

It's a striking color combination, with a dark forest green edge and a central design done in red.

I went to Denver, Colorado, when I was pretty small.  Honestly, I don't remember seeing most of the sites on this plate.  Either some of those attractions are closed now, or my parents decided my sister were too young to enjoy it.  Future vacation goal, maybe?

 Next up, this Washington, D.C. plate.  I honestly don't know why Mount Vernon is on the top part of this plate, since it's a few miles outside of D.C., but you know, it's still a great group of sites (if you haven't visited).

I've seen all of the things on the plate, but I didn't get to go inside the Jefferson and Washington memorials while I was there (lots of construction around them.  Finally gave up and took distance pictures).  I visited D.C. before the 9/11 attacks.  I'm sure these sites are more difficult to see now (security concerns), but I'm still hoping I can visit again one day.

I have never been to Illinois, so all I can comment about this one is that it looks really cool.  The blue edge caught my eye at the thrift store.

If you're from Illinois, let me know if there's anything on this plate that has closed down, or even share a childhood story.  I'd like to hear it!  I love travel.

Hey, while we're at it, I'd like to hear your comments about souvenirs like this that you've collected.  Do you have any memories of Grandma and Grandpa buying one of these at a gift shop at your favorite park?  Do you remember how your parents or grandparents displayed things like this in their homes?  Leave me a comment about your favorite travel souvenir memories, or better yet, post something on your own blog and create a backlink to this post so viewers and myself can see what you've shared.


  1. These are great! I see a lot of similar ones when I'm out thrifting, but now I'll have to take a second look at them. I usually pass them over, but you've given me inspiration.

  2. I have many old state plates. I had so many I broke some and made a large mosaic frame out of the state plates around a mirror. They are fun to collect.

  3. Glad I inspired you, VintageIntent! So, do you have a wall you are planning to decorate this way?

    Tami, that is a useful idea, especially if the plate is really chipped up or some of it is so worn it just doesn't look nice in its original form.

  4. If you are worried about the wire plate hangers damaging your plates, you might try disc plate hangers like these. They work great on most plates, except plastic and plates with hand painted backs that are not fired.


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