Weekly Feature #16— Homer Laughlin China

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Thrifted History Homer Laughlin China Co.An American Icon at the Dinner Table & Dining Out

Whether you are familiar with the name Homer Laughlin China Co. or not, there is a good possibility that even if you haven’t used their products, your parents most certainly have.  This company has been setting American dining tables since the 1870s, when brothers Homer and Shakespeare Laughlin from East Liverpool, Ohio started a company to sell pottery ware made in the area. The industry had begun making yellow ware from local clay deposits in the 1840s. By the 1870s the public’s taste was shifting to the more attractive white ware being imported from England. Subsidized by the East Liverpool City Council, the Laughlin Brothers opened a plant aimed at filling this new demand.

https://www.periodpaper.com/products/1930-ad-quaker-quick-mothers-oats-breakfast-fine-china-gift-premiums-chicago-111428-fw1-002Eventually, brother Shakespeare left the business for other interests, but Homer Laughlin continued manufacturing china, and the business both flourished and grew.  Though Homer retired in 1897, he sold the company to partner Louis  Aaron and manager William Edwin Wells and his name remained on the rapidly growing concern. Customers  like  F. W. Woolworth Company, and the American Cereal Company of Chicago who packed a piece of Homer Laughlin china in each box of Mother’s Oats, fueled the company’s rapid growth. 

With the hiring of  Frederick  Rhead as design director in 1927, the company made yet another giant leap forward. His Virginia Rose pattern is still highly sought after today. He is most famous though, for the Fiesta Ware line.

During the Second World War, Homer Laughlin China manufactured dishes for the Armed Services. After the war, when many American companies were hard-hit by a flood of imported products from countries with cheap labor pools, the shift to restaurant and hotel commercial ware and introduction of the “Best China” brand vitrified hotel china assured their continued success. 

After the difficult 1960s and 70s decades, Homer Laughlin began producing and selling lead free china to a newly eco-conscious America. The 1980s saw a major resurgence of the business with the re-introduction of the perennially popular Fiesta Ware line of dishes with lead free glazes, vitrified china body and new, updated colors.

Fiesta Ware is still available today. Homer Laughlin China Company continues to offer American made quality dishes, still manufactured in the Ohio Valley potteries where it all began. Go to the Homer Laughlin China Company retail site to shop for these colorful dishes.

Everyday Elegance—Enduring Quality

Not so long ago, I had no idea what Homer Laughlin China was, but the style and beauty of the vintage dishware I found soon had me hooked. It was Kismet perhaps, or just that these dishes stand out from so many others in thrift shops and vintage sales. I would pick up a dish I was attracted to, turn it over, and there was another Homer Laughlin piece with the mysterious code I was determined to figure out. Research hooked me on this quintessentially American company, and led me to the solution to the mystery. I found it explained and revealed on the Restaurant Ware Collector’s Network website. 

I have several pieces currently listed in my Etsy shop— O Deer Mercantile.  With the company’s long history, and their prolific sales to the retail customer, restaurants and hotels, a great deal of this dishware is still available, and at very reasonable prices for the collector. See which ones are your favorite…

Homer Laughlin China (Click on Photos for Slide show!)

Vintage Floral Platter by Homer Laughlin China: Shabby Gold Trimmed Porcelain Serving Plate Made in 1933- $18.00

This is a 11 1/2″ serving platter from Homer Laughlin China Company. It is in the Virginia Rose shape in the Fluffy Rose pattern. The body is a nice rich cream color with hand applied platinum trim. It measures 11 1/2″ long by just under 8 1/2″ wide and stands about 1″ high. Good condition. Some light surface scratches, a tiny chip on one end and a some fading in spots on the platinum trim.

Majestic Pattern Serving Bowl by Homer Laughlin China: Floral Design Dish from 1946- $12.00

Made in 1946. This bowl is 9 inches in diameter and 2 3/4 inches in height. It is in reasonably good overall condition for its age. Much of the decorative gold trim has worn away; there are two or three faint dark spots and a couple of scratches. A very pretty country floral design.

Vintage Serving bowl by Homer Laughlin China: Virginia Rose Pattern Shabby Gold Trimmed Porcelain Marked 1948- $16.00

This beautiful bowl was manufactured by Homer Laughlin China in 1948. It is in the popular Virginia Rose shape with raised scalloped edges and gold trim. The pattern, which I was unable to locate out of the hundreds made by this prolific company, is a sprinkling of pink and yellow roses with tiny blue flowers around the walls of the bowl. This vegetable serving bowl is 8 1/2 inches in diameter and about 2 1/2 inches deep. A beautiful addition to a Homer Laughlin collection. The condition of this charming bowl is very good, no discernible chips, cracks, crazing etc. There is a spot of discoloration on the curve from the edge of the bowl on one side, and some wear of the gold trim. See pictures for more details.

Vintage Floral Platter by Homer Laughlin China: Shabby Gold Trimmed Porcelain Serving Plate Made in 1933- $18.00

This is a 11 1/2″ serving platter from Homer Laughlin China Company. It is in the Virginia Rose shape in the Fluffy Rose pattern. The body is a nice rich cream color with hand applied platinum trim. It measures 11 1/2″ long by just under 8 1/2″ wide and stands about 1″ high. Good condition. Some light surface scratches, a tiny chip on one end and a some fading in spots on the platinum trim.

Vintage Floral Bread and Butter Plate by Homer Laughlin China: Shabby Gold Trimmed Porcelain Made in 1950- $7.00

Sweet Floral Bread & Butter Plate. This cute shabby dish would be lovely hanging, or on a vanity or shelf holding trinkets or keys. It is 6 1/4 inches in diameter, with a distinctive rose and floral bouquet pattern trimmed in gold.

I hope you’ll take the time to go by O Deer Mercantile to check out these pieces, and the many other vintage and handmade goodies we have listed. More coming soon…

Have a great week!

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Thrifted History- Homer Laughlin China Co,

 

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