February 19, 2015

Ornate Design, American Craftsmanship

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The Ming-Birds pattern is a gorgeous representation of Lenox China's exquisite artistry. This fine bone china, produced from 1917 to 1963, features gold trim and a spectacular, multicolor scroll design around the rim of the plate interspersed with scenes of two colorful birds. The center design showcases an exotic flowering tree and flitting butterflies. Founded in 1889 by Walter Scott Lenox in Trenton, NJ, the "Staffordshire of America" of its time, the Lenox Ceramic Pottery Company produced art-quality pieces. By 1897 examples of Lenox's work were displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.  In 1918, President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson commissioned a set of Lenox for the White House, making it the first American china to grace a U.S. president's table. The Wilson Service was designed by Frank Graham Holmes, chief designer for Lenox from 1905 to 1954, who also designed the Ming-Birds pattern featured here. During this tenure with Lenox he collected numerous awards, including the Craftsmanship Medal of the American Institute of Architects and the silver medal of the American Designers Institute. In 1928, he became the first and only American to have his porcelain designs displayed by the National Museum of Ceramics in Sevres, France. According to Lenox literature, Holmes "possessed a remarkable ability to blend contemporary style with timeless 'good taste.'"

Minton by Tiffin/Franciscan was produced from 1960 to 1973, and is a stunningly beautiful crystal pattern. The design of Minton features a convex bowl that flares at the top, a knobbed, multi-sided air-bubble stem with an hourglass shape, and a round, clear foot. The upper half of the non-optic bowl is adorned with a gold encrusted band with an ornate floral design. The Tiffin Glass Company was founded in 1888, when the A.J. Beatty & Sons Glass Factory in Steubenville, Ohio, announced that it would be moving its facilities across the state to Tiffin, Ohio. The new plant began production in 1889, and just three years later, A.J. Beatty & Sons merged into the United States Glass Company. By 1963, USGC had gone into bankruptcy, but a year later, Tiffin Art Glass was born, reviving the company's tradition of quality stemware. When Tiffin Art Glass was acquired by the Continental Can Company two years later, it was renamed the Tiffin Glass Company. Tiffin became a division of the Interpace Corporation in January 1976, and introduced the Franciscan Ware line to its manufacture of pressed glass, sandwich glass, white milk glass, and stemware. In 1979, Leonard Silver Manufacturing Company, a division of Towle Silver, purchased the glassworks. Tiffin Glass Company remained under Leonard Silver's control until closing its doors in 1983. Tiffin/Franciscan was long noted for the high quality of its crystal, and the gorgeous Minton pattern featured here is a showcase of craftsmanship and design.

Delicate scroll and floral designs accent the scallop-shaped handles of Irving sterling, first produced by Wallace Silver in 1900. Wallace Silver, established in Connecticut nearly two centuries ago, has long been recognized for excellence in tableware craftsmanship. The founder of the company, Robert Wallace, was born in 1815 into a family of silversmiths who had emigrated to New England from Scotland. Apprenticed to William Mix, a renowned Connecticut spoon maker, Wallace purchased a dilapidated grist mill after mastering his trade, and began to produce his own silver flatware in 1833. Irving is just one of many examples of Wallace Silver's high-quality work.

January 29, 2015

Organic Designs, Beautiful Effects

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Wedgwood Cream Color on Lavender is scallop-shaped, with rim, the blue (lavender) color contrasting with the elegant Wedgwood cream-colored grapevine design in bas-relief on the rim, and delicate, embossed fluting on the outside edge. (The bas-relief design was introduced in Wedgwood's "Jasperware," the unglazed porcelain featuring classical figures in bas-relief that is virtually synonymous with the company name today.) In Cream Color on Lavender the embossed rim design is called "Shell Edge," reflecting company founder Josiah Wedgwood's passion. Wedgwood (1730-1795) was fascinated with conchology, a branch of zoology that concentrates on the study and classification of mollusk shells. A regular on the beaches of England, Wedgwood often searched for rare shells to add to his collection. He used these organic shapes to fashion new designs in china and figurines for his company.

Fostoria Colony is a pressed glass design, with a concave bowl and broad swirls on the side, giving the design a wonderful feeling of motion, with a wafered stem, and round foot. For more than 100 years, Fostoria produced glassware of exceptional quality and beauty.  New technologies developed during World War II provided glassmakers with machines that could produce pressed glass of the elegance and high quality associated with traditional, hand-blown glass. Fostoria was a leader in implementing these innovations. And in contrast to the ornate designs popular during the first half of the 20th century, Fostoria's creations began to reflect "minimalist" design, with polished, smooth surfaces and sensuous curves. Colony was a very successful pattern, and was produced from 1940 to 1973.

Elegant, fluid curves are features of Reed & Barton's Eighteenth Century sterling silver. With a scroll design on the edge near the utensil, and a ribbed design that flares toward the end of the handle to a scallop-shaped tip, Eighteenth Century is a marvelous pattern that echoes the organic, curved shapes of both Wedgwood Cream Color on Lavender and Fostoria Colony. Eighteenth Century is emblematic of its maker, Reed & Barton of Taunton, MA, a company that traces its origins to a jewelry store founded by Isaac Babbitt in 1822. After changes in ownership, the company began to use the "Reed & Barton" stamp on its silver in the 1840s. The Reed & Barton Eighteenth Century sterling pattern maintains the same high quality customers have praised for nearly 200 years.

January 22, 2015

Popular Designs, Alluring Craftsmanship

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The Ming-Birds pattern is a gorgeous representation of Lenox China's exquisite artistry. This fine bone china, produced from 1917 to 1963, features gold trim and a spectacular, multicolor scroll design around the rim of the plate interspersed with scenes of two different, colorful birds. The center design showcases an exotic flowering tree and flitting butterflies. Founded in 1889 by Walter Scott Lenox in Trenton, NJ, the "Staffordshire of America" of its time, the Lenox Ceramic Pottery Company produced art-quality pieces. By 1897 examples of Lenox's work were displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.  In 1918 President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson commissioned a set of Lenox for the White House, making it the first American china to grace a U.S. president's table. The Wilson Service was designed by Frank Graham Holmes, chief designer for Lenox from 1905 to 1954, who also designed the Ming-Birds pattern featured here. During this tenure with Lenox he collected numerous awards, including the Craftsmanship Medal of the American Institute of Architects and the silver medal of the American Designers Institute. In 1928, he became the first and only American to have his porcelain designs displayed by the National Museum of Ceramics in Sevres, France. According to Lenox literature, Holmes "possessed a remarkable ability to blend contemporary style with timeless 'good taste.'"

Duncan & Miller Indian Tree is a lovely blown glass design with a concave bowl, flared top, a knobbed, multisided cut stem, and a round foot.  The intricate Indian Tree design etched on the bowl does a wonderful job of tying together the Asian-influenced Ming-Birds design and the intricate scrolling found on Lucerne sterling. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Duncan & Miller got its start in 1865, when George Duncan bought the Ripley & Company glass factory and created Duncan & Sons, a partnership between Duncan and his sons, Harry B. Duncan and James E. Duncan, and his son-in-law, Augustus H. Heisey. Later, John Ernest Miller joined the company as a designer, and, during the next 52 years, would become world renowned for his glass designs. The period from 1893 to the closing of the plant in 1955 is generally known as the Duncan-Miller period, although the partnership was not official until 1900, when the firm was incorporated as Duncan & Miller Glass Company. The handmade glass at the Duncan & Miller Glass Company was distinguished by the artistry of design, the skill of the workers, the batch formulas, and the lovely colors of their glassware. Many of the Duncan & Miller pieces required ten or more people to create each piece. Duncan & Miller ceased production in 1955, as machines and assembly lines made the production of handmade glass not profitable. Duncan & Miller glass is now highly sought by collectors.

The elegant and popular Lucerne pattern was produced by Wallace Silver for 100 years, from 1896 to 1996. Lucerne sterling features a geometric blocked design with lavish scrolling along the edge, a cameo/frame tip design, and a glossy finish. Wallace Silver, established in Connecticut nearly two centuries ago, has long been recognized for excellence in tableware craftsmanship. The founder of the company, Robert Wallace, was born in 1815 into a family of silversmiths who had immigrated to New England from Scotland. Apprenticed to William Mix, a renowned Connecticut spoon maker, Wallace purchased a dilapidated grist mill after mastering his trade, and began to produce his own silver flatware in 1833. Lucerne is just one of many examples of Wallace Silver's high-quality work.

January 06, 2015

Kirk Silver "Repousse" Tea Caddy

This gorgeous sterling silver tea caddy in the "Repousse" (Full Chased-Landscape design) pattern by Kirk Silver features a stunningly detailed landscape design, and is a beautiful example of the chased repousse style that became widely popular in 19th-century America. Repousse is an ancient form of metalworking, where artisans hammer a design into the inside surface of a piece of metal, so that the ornamentation appears in relief on the outside. Most often the design is then worked from the outside with a pointed or patterned punch. This technique, called "chasing," sharpens and defines the repousse ornamentation and enhances the three-dimensional effect of the design. Some of the best-known pieces of this type of metalwork date from antiquity.

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The purpose of a tea caddy is, of course, to store tea. Aside from water, tea is the most-consumed beverage in the world, and has been enjoyed for thousands of years. Although it's unknown how we first started drinking tea, one popular legend states that Chinese emperor and herbalist Shen Nung was the first person to drink the beverage, around 2737 BC. As the story goes, Shen Nung was boiling a pot of drinking water underneath a tea tree when some leaves from the tree blew off and fell into the pot. Shen Nung decided to drink the infused concoction, and the practice of tea drinking was officially begun. Although there's no way verify this legend, it is believed tea was at least being consumed by around 1500 BC in the Yunnan province of China (where the tea tree, Camellia sinensis, originated).

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Tea at this time was prepared by mashing and pressing the tea leaves into a brick, which was then dried and ground as needed. Much later, during the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD to 1644 AD), loose tea leaves were cured or roasted and then crumbled, boiled, and strained - the basic method still practiced today.

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Tea was not known by Europeans until the 16th century, when Portuguese missionaries in Asia witnessed the practice of tea drinking. In 1606, the Dutch were the first to import tea to Europe, where its popularity spread - although it was considered a luxury item, and mostly bought by the wealthy. Tea started appearing in English coffeehouses in the 1650s, where it was enjoyed by not only the upper class but also the middle and working classes. As English and European settlers brought tea with them to their colonies, drinking tea became a common practice around the world, eventually achieving the popularity it has today.

December 16, 2014

Stag & Holly Bowl by Fenton

Stag & Holly by Fenton is a charming glassware pattern with a playful holly leaf and deer design. Here, we're showcasing a three-toed, crimped Stag & Holly bowl in the "Marigold" carnival glass color. This pattern was first produced a century ago, in 1912, shortly after carnival glass itself was created.

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Carnival glass is a form of pressed glass that appears in a wide variety of iridescent colors. Introduced in 1901 as a more affordable version of the expensive iridescent glass produced by companies like Steuben and Tiffany & Co., carnival glass showcases a colorful sheen that comes from the application of metallic salt vapors added to the surface of the molten glass as it cools from its initial pressing. In 1907, Fenton was at the forefront of carnival glass production, and labeled their first line of iridescent glass "Iridill" (the term "carnival glass" was not used until adopted by collectors in the 1950s and '60s, since this type of glassware was sometimes given away as prizes at amusement parks and carnivals). Over the years, Fenton produced around a 150 different carnival glass patterns. The initial popularity of carnival glass began to decline in the early 1930s, but it remains highly desirable among collectors today.

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The Fenton Art Glass Company was founded in 1905 by brothers John and Frank Fenton in Martins Ferry, Ohio. The company initially focused on decorating glass blanks produced by other glass companies. But within a couple of years, the brothers had difficulty acquiring the glass blanks they needed, and decided to open their own glassware factory. The first Fenton factory opened on January 2, 1907 in Williamstown, West Virginia. Fenton quickly became known for producing a beautiful assortment of glass with striking colors and decorations. Over the next several decades, this creative edge would keep Fenton at the forefront of the glassware market.

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While many other art glass manufacturers struggled during the Great Depression, Fenton survived by producing more utilitarian glassware that could be used in the home, including mixing and serving bowls. In 1939, the company began producing its tremendously popular line of "Hobnail" milk glass; this line was later referred to by Bill Fenton as the company's "bread and butter." Following World War II, Fenton Art Glass began to grow again, and was passed down to two successive generations of the Fenton family during the second half of the 21st century. In 2007, Fenton Art Glass announced that their hot glass production would cease, but, due to a flurry of increased sales, the company remained active until turning off the fires in their glass furnaces in 2011.

December 05, 2014

Stylish Holiday Tableware, Eye-Catching Design

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Lenox Holiday (Dimension) is classic cream-colored porcelain featuring a design of vibrant green holly sprigs and iridescent red berries with wide gold trim. Number two on the list of the twenty best-selling holiday patterns at Replacements, Ltd., Holiday (Dimension) offers a wide range of place setting, serving, and accessory pieces. It's one of the most festive and versatile patterns in our inventory. Lenox China is a great American success story. It was founded in 1889 by Walter Scott Lenox as "The Lenox Ceramic Pottery Company." By 1897, examples of the company's work were displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. In 1918, President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson commissioned a set of Lenox for the White House, making it the first American china to grace a U.S. president's table.

The stunning Star Blossom Gold glassware pattern by Gorham Crystal features an elegant shape with a multisided stem, gold trim, and eye-catching polished cut design. Gorham, originally known for its high-quality sterling silver, was founded in 1831 on Steeple Street in Providence, RI. Over the 180 years the company has been in business, it has produced a multitude of silver patterns, most notably, Chantilly, a household name, and the best-selling flatware pattern ever produced. In recent years, Gorham has moved into other tableware areas, including the production of exquisite crystal, like Star Blossom Gold, and high-quality china.

Art Deco silverplate flatware by Ricci Argentieri features a glossy finish and a bold, streamlined shape. With its sleek design, Art Deco serves as an ideal complement to Holiday (Dimension) china and Star Blossom Gold crystal. The defining characteristics of Art Deco were the use of asymmetry, arcs, sharp lines, and geometric shapes. The influence of Art Deco is readily exhibited in this stylish flatware pattern, in the form of the repeating lines that form the beveled design for each piece. Ricci Argentieri was founded more than 170 years ago in Alessandria, a small town near Milan, Italy. According to Ricci company literature, "Ricci is dedicated to producing is sterling silver, silverplate, goldplate and stainless collections with exceptional quality and beauty. For the past five generations, Ricci has been in the vanguard in the research and development of new designs. Ricci combines classic tradition and flawless contemporary styling to produce the most exquisitely designed flatware available."

November 04, 2014

Exquisite Autumnal Tableware

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Spode Woodland Stream is a gorgeous multi-motif pattern that includes magnificently depicted illustrations of various fish in underwater scenes. A vivid, warm palette of autumn colors is used to create lifelike images of perch, roach, rudd, salmon, tench, and trout (the featured Woodland Stream dinner plate here showcases two beautiful trout). Perfectly balanced with layers of scrolls and geometric latticework, the floral border of each Woodland Stream piece is a unique trim design that was borrowed from an earlier Spode pattern, originally produced in 1828! Spode founder Josiah Spode opened the doors of his porcelain factory in 1780. Under his guidance, the factory introduced two important breakthroughs in the development of English ceramics. Using bone ash, Spode was the first English china maker to achieve higher firing temperatures, resulting in impressively detailed, longer-lasting china. The company's second important achievement was perfecting "underglaze" decorating. Intricate designs could be applied to china that would last for years without chipping, scratching, or fading, at prices affordable to England's burgeoning middle class.

Featuring a sparkling variety of brilliant cuts, a multisided stem, and a starburst cut on a round foot, Brookside crystal by Waterford is a stunning pattern. Waterford Crystal dates back to the Flint Glass Works, founded in 1783 on the quay in the port town of Waterford when George and William Penrose opened the Flint Glass Works. In 1788, Waterford produced a glassware service as a gift to her Majesty, Charlotte Sophia, wife to King George III. The King and Queen were so charmed by the crystal service that they ordered the set to be displayed at Cheltenham castle.

Although the name Waterford is most often associated with dazzling crystal - whether the items are glassware, Christmas ornaments, or gift items - the company is also known for high-quality flatware. Powerscourt (Stainless) is glossy, high-quality 18/10 stainless steel flatware (18/10 represents the ratio of chromium and nickel used in the stainless steel, which adds luster and durability), with an elegant, geometric design on the edge and a fan/plume design at the tip. With its eye-catching design, Powerscourt is an especially fine accompaniment to Woodland Stream china and Brookside crystal. Today, Waterford's stemware, china, and flatware can be found on tables throughout the world.

October 21, 2014

Artistic Autumnal Patterns, Splendid Design

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The October pattern by Franciscan was produced from 1977 to 1984. This hand-painted pattern features arrangements of fall leaves in subdued earth tones, making October an autumnal version of Franciscan's other bold, brightly colored hand-painted designs. The October pattern comprises nearly thirty different piece types, including salt & pepper shakers, a teapot, and even a thimble! When California-based Franciscan tableware premiered in 1934, it was practically an overnight success. The glamour of the emerging film industry and the state's climate seemed exotic to Midwesterners and those living on the East Coast. The "Golden State" became a very popular tourist destination. And Franciscan's bright-colored, less expensive "earthenware" grew in popularity as American consumers began to recover from the Great Depression. The company's now-legendary line of hand-painted, raised-pattern designs includes Desert Rose, Apple, Fresh Fruit, and Ivy.

Fostoria Jamestown-Amber is amber, pressed glass with a concave, squarish bowl that features swirling, spiral panels on the side. The twist stem echoes the shapes of the panels on the bowl, and the foot is round. Even with its square shape, the curves in this pattern are organic and graceful. Founded in Fostoria, OH, in 1887, the Fostoria company relocated to Moundsville, WV, shortly thereafter, because of that region's abundant natural resources. Jamestown-Amber was one of four colors in the Jamestown pattern to be released in 1958 - green, amber, blue, and clear - additions to a line of popular colored-glass stemware introduced by Fostoria in the 1920s. After meeting decades of stiff foreign competition with classic designs and innovative glass-making methods, Fostoria operations were shut down by its parent company, Lancaster Colony, in 1983. Fostoria glass is highly sought-after by collectors today.

Oneida Will O' Wisp is a stylish stainless pattern that features a chic, understated design and a glossy finish. Oneida, Ltd. grew out of the original Oneida Community founded in upstate New York by John Humphrey Noyes in 1848. This Christian communal society was based upon the principles of individual self-perfection and shared property. Many products were manufactured by the Oneida Community, including animal traps, silk, chains, and, eventually, some of the world's most recognizable, high-quality, and beautifully designed flatware. During World War I and World War II, Oneida began producing many products for the U.S. military, including ammunition clips, combat knives, surgical instruments, and silverware for the Army and Navy. When stainless steel was introduced to the market in the early twentieth century, it failed to make an immediate impression on the flatware industry. Oneida, however, decided to shift its focus from sterling to stainless flatware production. Strong research and development greatly improved the quality of stainless steel as a dinnerware material, facilitating Oneida's success in the stainless flatware market. Today, Oneida, Ltd. is one of the world's largest marketers of stainless steel flatware, positioned to continue being a leader in the tableware industry for generations to come.

September 30, 2014

Impeccable Artistry, Eye-Catching Designs

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Hutschenreuther Blue Onion is rimmed, scallop-shaped white china featuring an intricate floral design rendered in a stunning blue color. The "Blue Onion" (or "Zwiebelmuster") pattern first appeared on tableware in Meissen, Germany around 1735. This popular motif likely derives from a similar Chinese pattern (the "onions" in the design are believed to be permutations of the pomegranates, peaches, and plums featured in the original design). The first privately owned porcelain factory in Bavaria, Hutschenreuther was founded in 1814 by Carolus Magnus Hutschenreuther. To enhance the quality of his product, Carolus solicited artists, craftsmen, and sculptors from across the European continent. Primarily focusing on quality and design, Hutschenreuther grew into a competitive firm that produced dinnerware services ideal for fine dining. In addition to Blue Onion, Hutschenreuther produced many other famous patterns throughout the first half of the twenty-first century, including Racine, Richelieu, and Maple Leaf.

With vertical, thumbprint, and crisscross cuts that show clear against the brilliant cobalt blue of the bowl, a multi-sided stem, and round foot with starburst cuts, Clarendon-Cobalt crystal by Waterford is an exquisite pattern. With its elaborate, eye-catching design, Clarendon-Cobalt is an especially fine accompaniment to Blue Onion china and American Victorian flatware. Waterford Crystal dates back to the Flint Glass Works, founded in 1783 on the quay in the port town of Waterford when George and William Penrose opened the Flint Glass Works. In 1788, Waterford produced a glassware service as a gift to her Majesty, Charlotte Sophia, wife to King George III. The King and Queen were so charmed by the crystal service that they ordered the set to be displayed at Cheltenham castle. Today "Waterford" is synonymous with fine crystal, and is found in households around the world.

Introduced in 1941, Lunt Silver American Victorian is scallop-shaped sterling with magnificent scroll and floral designs. Lunt was founded as the A. F. Towle & Son Mfg. Co. in 1880 in Newburyport, MA. Towle and his son left the company and built a new factory in Newburyport under the name A.F. Towle & Son Company. After moving to Greenfield, MA, in 1890, the firm went into automobile manufacturing and produced one of the first "horseless carriages" in America. Lack of financing caused the endeavor to fail, and George C. Lunt, who had been apprenticed to Towle, established Rogers, Lunt & Bowlen Company in 1902. Since 1935, the company has used the trade name Lunt Silversmiths. The company's Embassy Scroll pattern has been selected by the U.S. government as the official tableware for all U.S. consulates and embassies.

September 18, 2014

Outstanding American Artistry

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Cloisonne Peony-Black by Fitz & Floyd features gold trim, a white center, and a black rim adorned with a colorful peony design motif that spills over the verge. The graceful elegance of Cloisonne Peony-Black is a wonderful complement to the charming Empire-Gold Trim crystal and Cameo sterling patterns featured this week. Since 1960, Fitz & Floyd has earned a reputation for producing high-quality china and collectibles. Their distinctive products have graced the tables of some of the world's greatest homes. In 1983, Nancy Reagan requested that Fitz & Floyd provide a dinner service for the West Wing of the White House. In 1991, Fitz & Floyd was commissioned to create a tea service commemorating Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Texas. Over the years, Fitz & Floyd's unique designs have become highly sought after.

Mikasa Crystal Empire-Gold Trim is a beautiful blown glass design featuring a concave bowl that curves in at the top, resting atop a multi-sided, knobbed stem and a round foot. In the early 1930s, Mikasa was established as an international trading company based in Secaucus, New Jersey. The company, while wholly American, looked to Japan for inspiration. Named in honor of Prince Mikasa, the youngest brother of Emperor Hirohito, Mikasa soon established itself as one of the most recognized Japanese brand names in the West. Importing merchandise produced by a network of over 150 manufacturers worldwide, the company itself never attempted to make any of the dinnerware it sold. Rather, the Mikasa branded items were imported from Japan, Ireland, England, France, and Germany. Business exploded in the 1950s, and tableware became the staple business for Mikasa. Customer requests were pouring in from all parts of the country, and department stores including Bloomingdale's and Macy's could not keep enough stock to meet demand. Consumers found Mikasa ceramics to be very strong, versatile, and stylish. By the beginning of the 1960s, Mikasa had established a reputation as "the pioneer of American casual." Today, Mikasa continues to leverage the momentum it has built over the decades since its inception.

Reed & Barton's Cameo is a gorgeous sterling pattern that features a scroll edge, a framed cameo tip, floral design accents, and a glossy finish. The Cameo sterling pattern was produced by Reed & Barton for close to 50 years, from 1959 to 2009. This elegant patternis emblematic of its maker, Reed & Barton of Taunton, MA, a company that traces its origins to a jewelry store founded by Isaac Babbitt in 1822. After changes in ownership, the company began to use the "Reed & Barton" stamp on its silver in the 1840s. One of the company's best-known patterns is Francis I. Introduced by Reed & Barton in 1907, Francis I quickly became a favorite of nobility and presidents (no less than four U.S. presidents dined with Francis I - Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Gerald Ford). Now well into its second century of operation, Reed & Barton is a leader in finely crafted sterling silver and stainless steel.