Words of late artist Frank Howell...I totally relate!

"There are few days off and no retirement from this entanglement of knowledge, passion and vision that will be molded and converted into creative expression. There are no guarantees of acceptance, understanding or reward, but...the noise inside the mind never ceases. I will paint today, tonight and for as many tomorrows as I am given..." Words of the late artist Frank Howell...

Monday, February 24, 2014

My Vintage Vitrified Railroad, Restaurant and Hotel China

 A few weeks ago, I mentioned my collection of china, and offered a sneak peak in the post, "Who Would Want This Stuff?" ... Well, today, I will share details and the history of my collection, as well as some history of this type of china.  My collection has now grown to well over 300 pieces.  It all started in 1993, in Virginia, when a friend brought me some homemade cookies at Christmas time, and they were on a wonderful heavy, oval platter with green stripes around the edges.  She was from Buffalo, New York originally, and still had family there.  She explained to me that this piece was Buffalo China, made in her old hometown, and that she picked up pieces whenever she found them.  She thought I would like it, so it was part of my gift. I fell in love with it right then and there.....I decided to get as much of it as I could find, and to actually use it for our everyday meals.  After all, it was created for use in restaurants, hotels, train dining cars and such, so it was very durable.  This worked great for us having three children in the house...I don't remember EVER having a piece break during all of the years at home with the growing children.  We still use it today, and it just feels nice to have heavy dishes to use...and, it sort of feels like we're always eating out!  

When serving oatmeal for breakfast, I love having a separate little
bowl in which to serve fruit and nuts.

Everything about them is easy...the way they look and work in any decor; they are easy to clean; you can actually put them in the oven to warm something; they are great in the microwave oven. And, I love the variety of pieces that I now have...I can always look in the cabinet and find something for every need.  I have huge oval platters all the way down to tiny ones.  I have several large serving bowls, as well as medium, small and tiny ones!  Pitchers of all sizes, butter pats, compotes dishes, covered bowls, jam servers, lunch plates with compartments (like they used at lunch counters at drug stores), cereal bowls, soup bowls, soup cups, coffee and tea cups, saucers, bread plates, lunch and dinner plates, egg cups, demitasse cups, celery servers, gravy boats (large and small), creamers, and I'm sure there's more that I'm not thinking about now.  Once you start collecting it, it becomes an obsession and you will see pieces that you didn't know existed. 

This china comes in many different patterns, as hotels and other commercial establishments created their own patterns that were uniquely theirs.  Some collectors collect only certain patterns, others focus on railroad china patterns, and so on.  Historically, I have collected anything that has green in the pattern; I now also have black, and some novelty patterns as well. Still, most of my pieces have the green stripes.  It became very hard to find this pattern (was actually many different patterns, depending on the maker) during the last fifteen or so years.  I purchased many pieces at online auctions on Ebay, and these auctions were very popular, with many bidders fighting to win the pieces.  So, it wasn't unusual for the prices to rise to a ridiculous price...sometimes, I would let it pass, other times, if it was a hard to find piece that I really wanted, I just did what I needed to do!  I should also mention that I was not particular about the maker...there were many manufacturers who made the white with green stripes. While they do vary slightly in look, it wasn't important to me.  I use it all together and it looks great.  I still come upon a piece or two, now and again, although I don't get nearly as excited over it as I once did.  I have so much of it now, that I will only purchase a piece if it is really special in some way.

There are websites dedicated to the hobby of collecting these dishes...They are also great sources for identifying the maker and age by back stamps or marks.  One such site is Restaurant Ware Collectors.  The vintage pieces were manufactured in the late 19th century and early 20th century and you can learn the history of the different manufacturers by searching the internet.

Finally, the pictures.  I've just picked some random pieces to photograph...there are too many to do all of them.

A view into the cabinet...showing the many
different sizes of plates and individual serving bowls.

Right side of cabinet...platters, serving bowls, cereal bowls,
coffee and tea cups.

Large Milk Pitcher

Variety of Creamers and Small Pitchers

Small Gravy Boat


Divided Serving Dish with Soup Cup

Egg Cups

Celery Dish, Oval Dishes and Butter Pats

Coffee Mugs and Tea Cups

Demitasse Cups and Saucers

Covered Bowl

Variety of Small Bowls

Some back stamps...

Now, it's time for me to go put the dishes to good use...it's about five o'clock on Sunday evening as I write this post.  Dinner time. 

I'll close by saying this: 
I don't even want to try to figure out how much money I've spent over the years on these pieces!
I just hope my children don't donate it to the thrift store or have a yard sale when I'm gone!
I hope you've enjoyed the little trip through my china cabinet and the education on Vitrified Restaurant/Railroad/Hotel China, and that maybe you feel inspired to go out and start your own collection!

Thanks for spending a little part of your day with me.



  1. hi. do they get hot to the touch in the microwave?

    1. Hi Tracie. We have microwaved the plates to heat up leftovers, and used the bowls for microwave cook oatmeal, and I've never had them get so hot that they could not be handled. Of course, they were made by many different manufacturers, so I'm not sure if they are made exactly the same--I suppose some could be made of slightly different materials that could get hot.