9 Endearing Vintage Plates

Hi there–I hope you had a great weekend! Today I’m going to talk about a collectible that I do not recommend buying for resale, unless your vintage and antique market is radically different from mine here in Upstate New York. However, I do recommend that you scoop up any endearing vintage plates that you find for your own personal decorating purposes.

Every plate you see in this post cost just 25-50¢ each, with the exception of the pink, majolica one in the center, which unlike the others, I’ll be able to sell for about $10. Irresistably attractive plates are one of the collectibles that I have difficulty passing by. I do well most of the time–avoiding them like the plague–but I stumbled across this small collection at two separate sales and decided I was “allowed” to buy them for the purposes of this post, LOL.

Collection of nine vintage china plates

Vintage English Plates

Antique Wedgwood Beatrice Ironstone Brown Transferware Plate
This plate proves that we really do learn something new every day. The Wedgwood & Co. mark you see here does not refer to the famous Josiah Wedgwood pottery that produces the pale blue jasperware with white decoration that we’re all familiar with.

Founded in 1860, by Enoch Wedgwood (a distant relative of Josiah), Wedgwood & Co. was known for its earthenware production, like this ironstone plate with brown transferware design. They closed shop in 1965.

I realize that it’s all chipped up, but if you saw it in person and held it in your hands, you’d have bought it, too, I promise. The mark is a standard English registry mark used between 1868-1883. The “J” refers to 1880, the “M” refers to June, and the “16” refers to the day.

Vintage Wedgwood _Woodland_ Transferware PlateWedgwood & Co. also produced this pretty “Woodland” pattern, transferware plate; however, unlike the previous plate, it is not ironstone. The “4-64” green stamp dates it to April 1964. It’s dogwood decorated trim and slightly scalloped edge make it highly appealing.

Vintage Palissy Pottery _Sheridan_ Transferware Plate The Palissy Pottery, a newer Staffordshire company, produced transferware dishes like this one from 1946-1989. This pretty floral pattern is called “Sheridan.”

Vintage Japanese Plate

Vintage Japanese Blue Phoenix plate
Collectors refer to this flying bird transfer pattern by many names, including Blue Phoenix, Phoenix Bird, and Flying Turkey. One can find it in a a variety of different sizes and shades. The birds bear anywhere from four to seven spots on their bellies. Many different Japanese companies heavily produced it between 1900 and WWII for the American dime store market (Kovels, 2016), particularly Woolworth’s.

[Side note: I have an early childhood memory of enjoying a hamburger, fries, and coke lunch with my mom at the Woolworth’s luncheonette bar. Anyone else remember doing that? The Woolworth’s in our neck of the woods didn’t close until my college days in the early 1980’s, but I miss it still.]

I have a salt and pepper set in the Blue Phoenix pattern from my grandmother; I’ve always thought it was lovely.

Vintage Portuguese Plate

vintage pink majolica Portuguese plateBordallo Pinheiro is a Portuguese pottery founded by artist Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro in 1884. He won many international exhibition awards for his beautiful, naturalistic designs. Still in production, they are known for their outstanding collection of majolica, like this lovely, pink plate I picked up for a dollar at a garage sale recently.

Vintage American China Plates

vintage blue ridge floral plateThe “standard script stamp” that you see on this pretty plate by the Southern Potteries Incorporated (SPI), tells us that they produced it sometime between the late 1930’s and the early 1940’s. SPI began producing decal-decorated china in Tennessee in the 1920’s.

By about 1932 “Blue Ridge” had been added to the back-stamp, and the company began to produce hand-painted wares–right up until 1957 when the company shut down.  This pretty floral pattern, one of over 2000 produced by SPI, is known as  “Summer Day.”

Vintage Unmarked Handpainted Floral Plate This pretty plate, with its simple rosebud design, reminds me of Franciscan’s “Dessert Rose” pattern, which is why I placed it in the American category, even though I have no idea where it actually came from.

Unmarked Markcrest Swiss Alpine Chalet Vintage PlateHere’s another unmarked plate, this one with a cool, MCM design that I couldn’t pass up. I searched google images and came up with the maker–Stetson China Company (under the Mar-Crest label)–and the pattern–Swiss Chalet.

In business for just two decades (1946-65), Stetson produced china primarily for Mar-Crest for use as grocery store premiums, including Swiss Chalet.

Vintage Unmarked Handpainted Floral Plate
Final Fabulous Plate: This wonderful plate in autumn colors is perhaps my favorite of the nine. The stylized flowers (mums?) and the scallop trim form an outstanding graphic design. However, whoever manufactured this line must not have made many because I couldn’t find it anywhere on the internet. Perhaps one of my brilliant readers has more information about it?

I hope you enjoyed taking a look at my recent vintage plate finds. Remember: Do as I say not as I do! Dishware no longer draws the attention of vintage and antique buyers.

Therefore, for most sellers, it does not pay to invest in china, with some exceptions however, like certain serving pieces and truly stunning high end pieces. And even those will not achieve the same prices that they might have a decade or more ago. But don’t hesitate to buy beautiful pieces that you fall in love with if you plan to enjoy them yourself. Happy hunting!

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Collecting Vintage Plates
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33 Comments

  1. I heartily agree and frequently buy plates with graphic designs. No, they do not sell well. But what a wonderful inexpensive item for decorating and repurposing.

  2. I have several plastic bins in my mosaic/stained glass stash. I used the plates/cups/saucers to make jewelry, business card holders, pen holders, angels, etc. I’ve also incorporated some in my mosaic pieces. I always try to save the back stamp as many artists use those as well. There may still be a market for these but in a different form – cutting them up and selling as mosaic supplies. A little more work, but they may bring a better profit.

    1. Great ideas for upcycling old, beaten up china, Tanya. Selling pieces as “art supplies” may be the way to go…

  3. Thanks for the post Diana. I love vintage dishes. It’s sad to me that they are so unappreciated by the buying public. You always amaze me with the amount of information you are able to dig up on the items you find! Do you have any reference books you recommend?

    1. You’re welcome, Elyse! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I love conducting research, so it’s easy for me. While I do have a small library of antique reference books that I love to read for fun, when I have an item I want to learn more about, I go to the internet.

      I have listed a number of sites (by antique category) that I like to use here: https://adirondackgirlatheart.com/antique-vintage-online-info-by-category. Specifically, you can find more info about English pottery on a website called The Potteries: http://www.thepotteries.org/potters/index.htm

  4. I love dishes. As a matter of fact, most women I speak to love dishes. I guess the younger ladies are the ones who prefer shopping at IKEA or Target for dishes and don’t want to buy vintage tableware. I see sets of beautiful china just sitting at estate sales. You have put together a beautiful collection of plates. I love your history lessons, too. I have a couple of newer Portugal plates, and I honestly don’t know how to tell the older ones from the newer ones. I bought a couple of pretty bread size saucers this weekend but I don’t anticipate selling them for much. But they are so beautiful and I feel like I am rescuing them from the landfill.

    1. I have to agree, Laura. I think the younger generations are leaning toward simple, sleek designs. But I do also tend to believe that things go in cycles, so someday someone will be interested in these beauties (besides us, lol). I do seem to be able to sell the Portuguess majolica pieces without a lot of trouble, but as you say, not for lots of money–just a little. We have to keep rescuing them because if we don’t who will?!!

  5. Great looking plates, Diana…and wonderful info, too! And yes, I have memories of Woolworth’s counter, too! My mother would take us there for ice cream sodas when we got a good report card!

  6. Good morning! I loved this post as I found 2 vintage items that I have. I have the same plate from Southern Potteries and I have a plate, cup and saucer in the Swiss Chalet pattern. My mother had a complete set of these Swiss Chalet dishes when we were growing up. We found some pieces that had survived when she passed away a few years ago.

    1. What fun! It makes learning so enjoyable when some of what we own reflected in the blog post (or book or whatever). The Swiss Chalet pattern was new-to-me; I love that 60-70 years later it looks like it could have come from Target with its beautiful colors and snazzy design.

  7. Another great article! I confess I can’t pass up a pretty plate but I haven’t done much with any of them and there is quite a pile now. I once saw a craft where the person layered different plates with different borders and made flowers out of them (glass plates too) Then they somehow attach a stake and put them in the garden to decorate. I have kept mine to “someday” do some mosaics with them. Many people are making necklaces out of them by breaking them and then they put some sort of silver around them by soldering, add a piece to make them pendants. then I guess there is normal displaying on the wall if you have the wall space! That’s why the appeal of butter pats is strong….you can have your beautiful china plates in miniature!

    1. Thanks Elaine, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post 🙂 I’ve seen the flowers you’re talking about and they are darling, aren’t they? Using old plates for mosaics is another great idea. I have some chipped plates saved for that exact purpose–someday!

  8. The dish market has totally fallen off, I remember going to auctions years ago when these would have fetched a good amount. Recently, my daughter and I were at a antique shop and saw many full or almost full sets of place settings going for less than 25.00. Serving bowls included.. So now we are on the lookout for a pretty set for her. I picked up eight mismatched small plates in colors that matched my kitchen to use as dessert plates. I know times have changed but I still enjoy a pretty place setting. Maybe it will come back again.

    1. I agree with you 100%, Allison. I just sold a full set of Southern Potteries “Apple” to a local reader for $25 after it sat in my booth for two years. The dishware market is just dead, dead, dead!

  9. I love dishes, kind of obsessively. I have different transferware sets that I use whenever the mood strikes. I do buy dishes, mostly for myself though. I am happy to have read this post to see some background information on some of the companies that produced the pretty plates and other dishes I have found. Interesting and informative, as always! Thanks Diana!

    1. Thanks for dropping by, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the post 🙂 I think as long as we continue to buy what we like for our own use, we’re good–and who knows, maybe they’ll gain in value and our kids or grandkids will be rich some day, LOL.

  10. Great Post Diana. I think the pink rosebud plate—if smaller size is a from a California pottery. My mom had these when i was very young as kitchen dishes, might have been Grandmother’s castoffs. The Dinner plates had larger open roses on them. I remember cereal bowl or fruit bowls, too with the buds. So see if you can find another larger piece that might have the maker’s marks. Great Finds…I’d have snatched up most of them. The Southern Potteries—are hard to track down as they were from a consortium of potteries that hand-painted their designs, apparently at whim…lol. Great piece though!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Sandi! Thanks so much for the insight on the rosebud pattern. I’ll have to keep my eye out for a dinner plate. As for the Southern Potteries ID, the website I referenced had loads and loads of patterns. I was amazed-

  11. Another great post Diana. Here in New Zealand there is not a lot of interest in old dinnerware. My husband and I have rescued many a box of crockery in estate sales. We mainly buy blue willow which we use every day, but recently I purchased two boxes of red transferware. I am sure our food tastes better, for having been presented on beautiful plates. I repurpose items that are too chipped for eating from, such as bowls and cups as soap dishes or as plant saucers. T hank you for giving a little history on your plates, I have several of the blue and white Wedgwood plates, and now I can identify the date on them. Many of the pictures on transferware such as Wedgwood one, are inspired by artists like John Constable.Thanks again, and happy plate gathering.

    1. You made me smile, Annette, talking about food tasting better on beautiful dishes–I agree! I purchased a large amount of red transferware when we lived in England but cannot seem to locate it. Someday it will be an exciting discovery for me, LOL. Thanks for the info on Wedgwood designs and for adding to our knowledge base!

  12. Another of your great informative posts; thank you. I am slowly collecting a few blue and white dinner plates to replace baskets on my kitchen cabinet overhead soffit to change things up. I, too, love china, and although I often buy sugarers and creamers, I limit a lot of my purchases to Homer Laughlin as they mix and match well to sell. Recently got a deal on more of my Federal Bouquet and Lattice (aka Normandie) marigold glass Depression dishes; I still smile thinking about it! I wish I had room for all the colors of transferware; another interest!

    1. You’ll have to share some photos of your blue and white dinner plates once you’ve replaced all your baskets, Kathy. I bet it’ll look great!!

  13. I, too, am a plate addict, Diana! The two I really love from your collection in this post are the blue Wedgewood woodland plate and the peachy-pink one made in Portugal. I think I have one of the Japanese bird plates—somewhere! I am trying to collect a selection of the Old Britain Castles ironstone transferware by Johnson Bros.
    I only want the salad plate size in the pink color and it’s a trick finding them where they aren’t priced too high for my budget. It’s fun looking, though.

    Also, I have a very few pieces of the Franciscan Desert Rose pattern. The first ones I bought way back when I worked my first job at a department store. I worked on the “mezzanine” in the book department and I had to go through the china department to get to the books! That was back in the —-late ’60’s?? I wasn’t too long out of high school having graduated in ’62. Oh, my lord that was EONS ago! ANYWAY…I always look for the original pieces as they differ a bit from pieces made at some time later but I don’t know exactly when.

    Why do you think that china and sets of dishes, etc. don’t sell well anymore? Is it because we are a much more casual society now and don’t value “dining” in the way we used to? Does no one set a beautiful table anymore? I know my daughter who’s in her 30’s isn’t very interested in nice dishes. Maybe the appreciation of them will come around again after a while. Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy my collections and probably add to them, too! (Within reason, of course!) Hope you allow yourself to do the same!

    1. Who knows why the older pretty dishes don’t sell well…..I love them as most of you do.

      It’s a good thought you put forth above of us being a more casual society now and not valuing dining in the way we used to. So many families are split up and have moved away to different areas of the country and probably rarely get together for special occasions….kind of sad I agree.

      In decorating magazines I always enjoy the creative way that people display or use their vintage china. You can find pieces that are very reasonable (good for the buyer but sad for the seller LOL)

      I say keep on buying what your heart loves!!!

    2. I LOVE Old British Castles, Naomi and wish you luck in your efforts to build up a collection of the salad plates. My sweet mother in law gave me her set of Dessert Rose that she received as a wedding gift and never used. It’s perfect for small lady luncheons and baby showers.

      I think you hit the nail on the head as far as why dinner ware has gone out of favor. I think, too, that people are drawn to more modern designs that can be easily purchased at Target and Pottery Barn. For now I guess we should be happy that we can feed our passion so cheaply and hope that our grandchildren someday develop an interest!

  14. I wholeheartedly agree, Diana! Do what makes you happy, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. it’s good for your heart!

  15. Oops, I should have said Elaine! My apologies. So often I am leaving a comment addressed to Diana, I guess I wasn’t paying attention! Thanks for your comment, anyway, Elaine.

  16. I too have a hard time passing by pretty plates. One sells every once in a while and I do have a plate wall in my dining room that a lot of my Grandmothers plates are displayed on. So if I can’t resist and the price is right, I go for it. Yours are all so pretty!

    1. Thanks AnnMarie 🙂 Creating a gallery wall with beautiful old plates is a great way of putting them to good use, and when they’re family heirlooms, that makes them all the more special.

  17. What a great post. I loved the pink plate in the collage, but going through the individual pictures that Swiss Chalet one stood out. A memory is tickling the back of my mind. I am sure my Mom had some plates with this pattern when I was young. They probably all broke at some point, as I don’t remember having a lot of plates, just a few, maybe before she got the white Corelle. Anyway, as much as I’m not drawn to blue, how neat it would be to have one of those plates to hang on the wall. 🙂

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