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Friday, February 17, 2012

Mayer China Company

Mayer China Company was founded in 1881 in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, by Joseph and Ernst Mayer, two brothers whose father had been a potter in England. Information about the company is sketchy, but from what I’ve been able to gather, in its heyday Mayer China was one of the major producers of restaurant ware.

Their china could be found gracing the table of diners, railroad dining cars, country clubs and some of the finest restaurants and hotels in the United States. Some of their clients included the La Fonda Del Sol, a Manhattan restaurant designed by Alexander Girard, California's popular Honker restaurant, Miami's Pig and Sax spare rib restaurant, Dayton, Ohio's Wympee's hamburger restaurant, New York's Vanderbilt Hotel, the White Castle hamburger chain, the Clover Club in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Marando's in Milan, Illinois, US Steel and the NS Savannah, the first nuclear powered cargo-passenger ship.  In addition to their restaurant ware, it appears that they also produced a retail line.

The factory was purchased by Shenango in 1964. It was then taken over by Walker in 1980 and bought by Syracuse in 1984, where china continued to be manufactured until the company moved their production out of the United States in 2009.

If you have any Mayer china, you can easily date it by looking at the last two numbers on the back. For example, if the number is 451, it is a 1951 design. (Update 10/3/2012: Several people have reported having pieces with no numbers. Apparently the souces I used for this post were incorrect about how easy it is to date your Mayer china!) Two very helpful sites for identifying this china is the Restaurant Ware Collectors Network and Little Spoon's Virtual Museum of Restaurant Ware and Restaurant China.

From restaurant-ware.com and restaurantwarecollectors.com


La Fonda Del Sol, 1960
restaurantwarecollectors.com

Pig and Sax, 1957
restaurantwarecollectors.com

Wympee's, 1954
restaurantwarecollectors.com

Vanderbilt Hotel, 1940s-1960s
restaurantwarecollectors.com

White Castle, 1951
restaurantwarecollectors.com

US Steel, 1951
restaurantwarecollectors.com

N. S. Savannah, 1962
restaurantwarecollectors.com

The Honker, 1959
restaurantwarecollectors.com

Clover Club, 1962
restaurantwarecollectors.com
Marando's, c. 1950
marandosrestaurant.com

36 comments:

  1. If only the restaurant here has such fun china still - i love the clover one :o) Scarlett x

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    1. I think the clover one is my favorite too! It looks so typically mid-century.

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  2. Oh how cool! Thanks for sharing the restaurant ware. While traveling through NC we stopped at Replacements, Ltd. They have a fab china museum and had a large display of restuarant ware. Oh, the western theme Shenango!

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    1. I have a set of Paul McCobb restaurantware that I love! I'm going to Replacements, Ltd. one of these days, just to say I've seen the place I've ordered so much from!!!

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  3. Great background information. I found some amazing atomic style Mayer China a while back and it sold quickly, I'm kind of sad I let it go. Love the La Fonda del Sol stuf!

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    1. It's really hard to let some things go, isn't it? There are several pieces we've sold that I'm still sad about.

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  4. Mayer China is quite great!
    When I come across old resteraunt ware in thrifts (Which is not often unfortunatly. I am always drawn to it and want to buy it up. *lol*
    The clover club sounds like a lovely place!
    I adore the fat boy & pig and sax mugs.

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    1. I can just picture the diners and restaurants by looking at their china. I bet those were some fun places!

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  5. I have a very small collection of very small restaurantware because I just know people got them because somebody SWIPED them. It just makes me giggle to think of grandma slipping a tiny creamer or sugar bowl into her purse. LOVE these.

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    1. I hadn't thought about granny filching the china. That makes me love this stuff all the more.

      You may be too young to remember these...but I always loved those tiny clear glass individual creamers that were about 2" tall and 1" in diameter. I wish I had one of those.

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  6. I have one piece of Mayer - an awesome platter with one of my favorite atomic designs that I have come across yet. Best part - the lady selling it wanted 75 cents for it!

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    1. I just went back and looked at the picture of your beautiful platter with the fantastic atomic design. It's the piece that inspired me to research Mayer.

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  7. I was given a Mayer China pitcher. It is plain white and marking on bottom is "Mayer China. EST. 1881" so what would the date be for it being made??

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    1. That was the year the company was established. Your piece could have been made up through 1964, when Mayer China was purchased by Shenango.

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    2. Is there any way to find out an exact year for it? There is no there words on it other than that? I have a pic of it if that would help.. Thanks Robin

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  8. The sentence up top says "If you have any Mayer china, you can easily date it by looking at the last two numbers on the back." There are no numbers on it so how do I date it?

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    1. I'm not sure why a company that normally marked its pieces would put out unmarked pieces, but I guess that's what makes identifying mid-century design so much like solving a mystery. I'm a Russel Wright collector and don't own any Mayer, so there are lots of people who know waaaaay more about it than I do.

      My suggestion is to go to the two links I provided in the same paragraph and see if you find pictures of your pitcher. Maybe you can find a date that way. If that fails, I'd suggest going to modish.net and joining. It's free, and there's bound to be someone on that site who can tell you what you want to know. Michael Pratt at that site is a real expert on the subject of china and pottery. You can probably share a photo on any of those three sites, and someone can help you.

      Good luck identifying it!

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    2. Okay thanks will give it a shot and see if I can find out.

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    3. I have what I think is a covered sugar bowl and the bottom of it says "Clover Pattern Under Glaze Warranted J & E Mayer" - no numbers
      Michele

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    4. Does it just have a clover pattern, or is it like the Clover Club design shown above?

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  9. Well went to modish.net and joined and asked this Michael Pratt about my pitcher his response was "Our community is all about modern design".. So I unsubscribed and am still searching..

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    1. Apparently your piece is from the early years of the company and a site that deals with antiques might be more helpful.

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  10. I have several cream colored cups with a blue and gold band around the top and what looks like a University style logo with the letters U and C inter locking. Can anyone tell me what U C represents. It says on the bottom Beaver Falls China. Thanks

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    1. I'd start by making a list of all the universities that start with C and then Google them till I find the logo.

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  11. My Mom used to work here in the 70's . She still has some of the coffee mugs :)

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  12. My Father was thier Director of Design from '64 until moving to New Castle in late 80's I still use his most comercial popular "Sculptura" design from 78' Others have been copying that basic form still see it in mag photos today. He was the best, you can add Disney, Hilton, Greenbreir,Flamingo, goes on and on all over the country...

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  13. Great hearing from family members of former Mayer employees! I wish they hadn't been signed on as Unknown and Anonymous and had allowed us to contact them so we could ask more questions.

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  14. I have a Mayer plate #261 from the Franciscan Restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. I guess I can presume it is older than 1964 when the company was sold. There is a dessert plate currently on E-bay that has a Syracuse trademark. So can I also presume that the pattern was in manufacture for a while after the buyout.

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    1. I know very little about Mayer, except for the research I did for this post. I would suggest going to the two sites that I used when as source material for the post and seeing if you can contact a collector.

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    2. One post is restricted to members and the other site is how I found you. I have connected with the second via email. http://www.restaurant-ware.com/mayer/mayer004.jpg Here is a picture from her site.showing the design..

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  15. Hi: I have a Mayer dinner plate and wonder if anyone knows what the PBH emblem on the plate stands for?
    Many thanks....

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  16. I worked there one summer where I collected a couple of seconds from the line that they made for Disney World and Disneyland restaurants with the Disney logos on them.

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  17. I bought Mayer China dessert plates "hand painted especially for the Manger Hotels". they have what appears to be an English Rider on horseback, jumping a fence. Gave them to my niece and would love to have more but can't find anything about them.

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    1. They manufactured china for countless businesses. I doubt that anyone has a complete list or knows about all of them. I haven't seen any like the ones you gave to your niece. I'd be interested in finding out more about them too. Maybe a reader can help.

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