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THE VERSATILE RUSSEL WRIGHT - PART II


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Vol. 2 Issue 4



This month's newsletter will be covering the various product lines of Russel Wright with descriptions and marks. Since I have not been able to find a site that covers the various marks of Russel Wright, I have hand-drawn some of the many marks for you to use in identification. Please note that I will not be able to show all of them, as there are many!


PRODUCT LINES OF RUSSEL WRIGHT

DINNERWARE

American Modern(1939-1989) - Original colors were in Bean Brown, Chartreuse Curry, Coral, Granite Grey, Seafoam Blue, and White. Colors added later were Black Chutney, Cedar Green, Cantaloupe, Glacier Blue and Steubenville Blue. Value of Colors: Cantaloupe, Glacier Blue, Bean Brown, and White (most valuable); Chartreuse (low end); Cedar, Black Chutney and Seafoam (high end); and Coral and Gray (mid-range). A set of miniatures were made for Sears Roebuck and Company by Ideal Toy Co.

Iroquois Casual(1946) - Made by the Iroquois China Company and distributed by Garrison Products from 1946 to 1960's. Original colors were: Ice Blue, Lemon Yellow, and Sugar White. Later colors included Brick Red, Charcoal, Lettuce Green, Oyster, Nutmeg Brown, Parsley Green (later called Forest Green), Pink Sherbet, and Ripe Apricot. Aqua, and Canteloupe (most valuable); Avocado (low end); Oyster and Charcoal (high end).

Iroquois Casual(1951-1952) - Redesigned in 1959 and was produced in patterns and sold in 45-piece sets. Cookware was later added.

Knowles Esquire (1956 - 1962)- Patterns with an oriental touch. Not a popular line during production, but is becoming very collectible today. Grass is the pattern of choice. Solar and Botanica are seen less than other patterns. Antique White, Fontaine, and Mayfair are expected to becoming increasingly hard-to-find. The teapot and centerpiece are highly sought. The 16" platter is the most rare of the pieces.

    Antique White - Matte glaze is rarely found.
    Botanica - Brown
    Fontaine - Tan
    Grass - Broken stems on blue
    Mayfair - A rose decal on a high-gloss white background.
    Queen Anne's Lace - White
    Seeds - Yellow
    Solar - White
    Snow Flower - Pink

White Clover (for Harker) (1951) - Almost impossible to find in sets. Usually found as separate pieces. This is not considered a mix and match line. All colors are favored. It was made in the following colors: Golden Spice, Meadow Green, Coral Sand, and Charcoal. There was a companion clock made by General Electric in all the same colors. The shapes of some of the pieces were distinctly different. The pitcher had a locking lid to prevent spilling, the salt shaker in the salt and pepper set was taller than the pepper.

Highlight(1948) - Highlight was given its name for it being a high-styled dinnerware and the appearance of the white clay showing through at the edges and rims, giving a highlighted effect. The colors included Blueberry, Nutmeg, Pepper, Citron, Dark Green and White. Dark Green and White were introduced in 1951. There were not as many made of those two colors. White eventually became known as Snow Glaze. It was first introduced in a matte finish, but was later made in a glossier sheen. The supplier was Paden City Pottery, with the marketing expert being Justin Tharaud. An elegant dinnerware that won The 1951 Museum of Modern Art Home Furnishings Exhibit award which toured in the United States and Europe. The Merchandise Mart in Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City co-sponsored it in their Good Design 1951 Exhibit and won the Trail Blazer Award by the Home Furnishings League.

Sterling(1949) - A dinnerware line produced by Sterling China Company in 1949. Plates were available in five sizes; a service plate (11-1/2"), dinner plate (10-1/4"), luncheon plate (9"), salad plate (7-1/2"), and a bread and butter plate (6-1/4"). This line was mostly used by restaurants and hotels and is quite hard to find.

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BAUER ART POTTERY(1945)


This line came in many different shapes and sizes; vases, ashtray, mantelpiece bowl, centerpiece bowl, square flower pot, tall flower pot, centerpiece bowl with candleholder ends, long low bowl, oval vase, and bulb bowl. Usually the inside was one colored glaze while the outside was another colored glaze. White and bronze is a common color combination. Black and coral are difficult glazes to find. The Greens, Rust, Blues, and Cinnamon have not been found, but are listed as colors of glazes in the catalogues.

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GLASSWARE


Bartlett Collins (1957) - These were glasses to be placed in discount stores and were priced so low that breakage was not a great loss. Instead of replacing a glass, they were inexpensive enough that they could replace the set. Some of the designs included: Gay Nineties scenes, cowboy motifs, and bottoms-up graphics. However, there are two designs that were quite successful; "Eclipse" and "Sunburst". "Eclipse" was a polka dot motif with overlapping solid circles. "Sunburst" was a geometric pattern with rays of color in vertical shoots. Both patterns came in Yellow, Turquoise, Green, and Flamingo Pink; all combined with gold. Ice buckets and other bar-related items were also available in these patterns.

Duncan Miller Imperial Flair (Flare)(1959) - Believed to have been produced for about 5 years. It had a smooth inside and a granular outside. Since it was textured to the touch on the outside, it was called "Seed". Colors found are pink and crystal. They were to be made in Yellow, Blue, Smoke, Turquoise, and Amber Brown.

Imperial Pinch(1951) - It was designed to accompany "Iroquois Casual". There are three sizes of tumblers. It is named "Pinch" because of the bottom depression. It was made in Seafoam, Verde, Smoke (a warm brown), and Canteloupe (a light amber), Chartreuse, Ruby, Pink, and Crystal.

Imperial Twist (1949) - These are footed tumblers. Included ice teas, water tumblers, juice, and old fashioned glasses. They were found in Smoke, Seafoam, Coral and Crystal.

Old Morgantown/Modern (1951) - This was a handmade glass. It included three sizes of tumblers, five stemmed items, a dessert dish, a pilsner, chilling bowl and a double old fashioned. It was made in colors to complement the American Modern line. The colors included Coral, Seafoam, Chartreuse, Smoke and Clear Crystal.

Snow Glass (1948-1953)- A crystaline glass with minute flakes of opaque white resembling snow flakes scattered randomly in the crystalline body. It was textured in feel and appearance. There were three sizes of tumblers, salad plates, saucers, fruit bowls, various lids, a 2-pint pitcher, a round vegetable bowl, shakers, and candle holders. When identifying "Snow Glass", remember there are look-alikes. One is designed by Paul A. Lobel and sold by Mary Ryan, an early Wright supporter. The line was called "Benduro" and was advertised as an American Expression in Glass. It was made in several colors, but has been called "SnowFlake". There is a "Bubble Glass", which is similar to "Snow Glass". It was designed and made by Irving Richards in 1942. It was made in Mexico and came in a 5 oz. juice glass and a 10 oz. cocktail size. Also, a small amount of Fostoria Glass was produced. It may have been a prototype of "Snow Glass" and is now part of a collection of The Huntington Museum in Huntington, West Virginia. It has a thinner body and is darker than "Snow Glass".

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SPUN ALUMINUM - 1930's

One of the most successful of Wright's lines. It was divided into three categories; stove to tableware group, informal serving accessary group, and an interior accessory group. Though the customers were told of the ease of keeping their items bright, they were easily bent and dented. Because of that, items are hard to come by in good condition for collectors. Typical items were: ice buckets, casseroles with ceramic inserts, fruit bowls, lamps, ashtrays, canister sets, bun warmers, vases, etc. Up until the time of the war, sales were doing quite well. But, the material for the items was no longer available for consumer use. After the war, the line never quite recovered.

The mark for the spun aluminum pieces was signed with the Russel Wright name in block letters. A red inked stamp is sometimes found on the wood and there were navy and white labels as well as string tags. The mark on the aluminum is sometimes hard to find and if a piece, like a lid is missing where the mark might be, a collector may not ever know who the maker is.

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PLASTIC - (1951)

Meladur was made in pink, mint green, yellow, and blue. Pieces made before the sale to General American are marked with Russel Wright's signature. Pieces after are not marked. "Residential", was another line of Melmac by Russel Wright. Original colors were: Sea Mist, Grey, and Lemon Ice, Black Velvet (black with aluminum dust) and Copper Penny (brown treated with copper dust). Later White, Light Blue and Salmon (orange red) were added. Another line, "Flair" was patterned and was produced in 1959. It had several designs: Golden Bouquet (puffs of white on golden stems), Spring Garden (blossoms of pink and blue on stems), Ming Lace (actual leaves of the Jade Orchid Tree imported from China, cleaned, tinted, and permanently molded into the body), Woodland Rose (pink roses and green leaves on eggshell background), Arabesque(swirl pattern in two tones of gold or gold and turquoise on eggshell).

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To view some of the many marks of Russel Wright items, Click Here

Marks #1 & #4 - Usually found incised but is also found in raised relief. One of two marks Sterling used on the early line. Some Sterling is not marked and some which is, the glaze filled the incised letters.

Marks #2 & #3 - One of several marks used for Russel Wright's synthetic dinnerware.

Mark #5 - Bauer items are marked, lightly incised with the signature filled in with heavy glaze. Vase bottoms can be heavily irregular.

Marks #6 & #8 - The two earliest marks for Iroquois, with #6 being the earliest and #8 next. They will be found in dark blue and brown.

Mark #7 - Found on early Century Metalcraft items.

Mark #9 - One of six Paden City/Justin Tharaud/Highlight marks.

For more information on Russel Wright:

Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center Click Here
Decorama And Here
The Houston Chronicle Here

REFERENCES:

Official Price Guide to Pottery and Porcelain - 8th Ed. - Harvey Duke
Garage Sale and Flea Market Annual - 3rd Ed.
Warman's Americana & Collectibles - 8th Ed.
Schroeder's Antiques Price Guide - 18th Ed.
Kovel's Antiques & Collectibles Price List 1991 - 23rd Ed.
The Collector's Encyclopedia of Russel Wright Designs - Ann Kerr
The Houston Chronicle - Feb. 8, 2002, 2:17PM "The power of Wright Midcentury designer's vision shapes modern home front" By Renee Kientz



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