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 Sévres, 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.
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