Vintage finds and retro handmade--a sweet mix I know you'll love.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Vintage Has a History

Every piece has a history.  That's what always fascinated my Granddad about old things.  He was a brick and stone mason for a living, and he loved to collect old bricks from buildings that he helped demolish.

The interesting thing, which you may not know, is that old bricks were always stamped on the back with their place of origin, and sometimes a date.  My granddad had bricks from all over the southern U.S., many marked "Oklahoma Territory"  "New Mexico Territory," etc. In case you don't know what that means, it dates those bricks to pre-statehood days, when the populations of these states were still so low that they hadn't even earned full statehood and voting power under U.S. laws.  Oklahoma, for instance, earned statehood in 1907.

I wish I could show you one of these bricks, but I haven't been able to find the Oklahoma Territory one that he gave my mother.  I'm sure it's somewhere in my parents' garage.  Whenever I do, I might revisit it.

My latest vintage history adventure has been researching two pieces of fine porcelain I am planning to list soon.  I found them both at a thrift shop, and instantly realized they were something very special.

 The plate is marked on the back, "Jyoto.  Made in Occupied Japan."  I know that dates it to the postwar years, between 1945 and 1952, when Japan's industry was being rebuilt and large amounts of pottery and porcelain products were produced for a U.S. audience.  I am having a great deal of trouble uncovering more information about this plate.  One source seems to identify it as "pattern 58," by Jyoto, but I am feeling very uncertain.  I'm still waiting for better confirmation of my information.

Here is the mark on the back.  I know it doesn't seem to read "Jyoto," but I realized that is the correct company name after an entire exhausting evening of research.  If you have any information you could add, to help me along in my research and identification, I would really appreciate it.

The other plate is more of a platter.  It, too, bears the hallmarks of fine work.  It is very heavy, with a supporting ridge down the middle of the underside of the platter, to prevent cracking under heavy use.  It is so large, I think a gigantic turkey might look a little lonely without some dressing or rice pilaf around it.  I love this plate!

Here is a closeup to show the edge details.

Luckily for me, this one was a lot easier to identify.  It is a Noritake plate, in the "Rodista" pattern.  All of that is clearly marked on the bottom in an ornate seal.  When I did research on the mark, I found a whole story that goes with this platter.

Unlike the other one, which is postwar and often was judged as poorer quality porcelain, this plate was made pre-war.  It bears the "M" crest from Noritake, which is the family crest of the Moromura family.  It was not used at all, immediately after World War II, and later was changed to an "N" for the American audience, which didn't understand the significance of the "M."  The "M" crest was specifically used between 1910 and 1940.

The word "Japan" instead of "Nippon," also has a history behind it.  Before 1921, the Japanese marked their ceramics and porcelain with the word "Nippon," which was the anglicized version of the name they called themselves.  In 1921 the U.S. passed a law that said they had to use the word "Japan" to make things more clear for the patent office and such.  This dates the plate to sometime after 1921.

I looked around for more information, and found a similar Noritake mark from around 1930, with the little diamond vine emblems hanging from the pattern name.  I think that may finally date this platter to the 1930s.  If so, I can picture a rather wealthy family in the Great Depression era eating their turkey and roast beef from this platter.  It is in pristine condition, which tells me it was either never used, or a prized family heirloom.

It is enough to make you stop and contemplate things, huh?  There seems to be a story behind all of this, and my writer's imagination is tingling from it.  How did these two plates end up taped together in a thrift store?  What were the people like who previously owned them?  Some things to contemplate.  Does vintage ever make you wonder these things?

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