Decorating your dinner table this season… on a budget

by Reyne Haines

The crisp air in the early morning, along with the light dusting of leaves in the front yard can only mean one thing.  Fall has arrived.

The pools close for the season, we pack away our sandals, shorts and tank tops.  Long sleeves and sweaters are welcomed in earth-tone colors that match the changing of the trees.

Soon we find ourselves on the hunt for holiday treasures for our loved ones.  Just before you know it, Thanksgiving will be here, then Christmas.  This year Thanksgiving dinner will be at your house.  What will you serve your Thanksgiving feast on?  As you search for that perfect dinnerware, something you bring out only for the holidays your mind ponders over endless china and glass patterns at your favorite department store.  Then you focus in on the price tag.  EEEK! You scream in horror.

The china with the gold trim will not work in the microwave and the thought of Correlle…..sigh. 

Then just as you are about to give up, you have an idea.  The Internet!  I will shop ONLINE!  Yes!!!  There are always bargains to be had there.  But where do I start? And better yet, what should I buy?  I want to get the most for the least amount of money.  What is the answer?

Depression glass, dime store glass made during the 1920’s and 30’s.  Relatively inexpensive glass made for people with lesser means, and distributed as premiums of other products.  On today’s market, this glass has a strong following, and there is something for everyone.  Hundreds of patterns, colors and pieces to choose from.  Something that has history, a story to tell.  One could only imagine the stories told around the different families who have eaten off these very plates, and drank from these same cups.  How many holiday feasts had this dinnerware been used for? 

With this being fall, you consider your color choices…. No pink, no blue, no ruby, no forest green.  Maybe crystal, perhaps amber and even yes topaz.  You find you are in luck.  The colors best suited for this time of year, happen to be the easiest, and least expensive to come by.  The patterns these colors are available in are numerous.

Some of your choices:

Crystal:  Columbia, Diana, Florentine #2, Heritage, Homespun, Iris & Herringbone, Lincoln Inn, Manhattan, Miss America, Queen Mary, Banded Rings, Rock Crystal, S-Pattern, Waffle, Windsor Diamond

Amber: Crows Foot, Diana, Madrid, Mayfair, Normandie, Patrician, Rosemary, Twisted Optic, Victory, and Sharon

Yellow/Topaz: Cameo, Florentine #1, Jubilee, Lorain, Primo, and Princess

Now you’ve found your pattern, chosen your color…the hunt is on.  Your shopping possibilities are endless.  The great thing about shopping online means you can shop morning, noon and night and never leave the house (or put on your makeup!)  Several online sites even offer personal shopper services which will notify you once they have your pattern in stock or listed for sale/bid.

Should you decide you want to know more about Depression glass, and not just eat off it, there are several books that will help you with pricing, history of the pattern (when it was made, where, for how long) and what pieces are available in that pattern.  Recommended reading for collectors is:

The Collectors Encyclopedia of Depression Glass, by Gene Florence. Gene Florence has been writing books on collection all types of depression era glass for quite some time.  His books have become the bible for dealers and collectors alike.

Another highly recommended book would be Mauzy’s Depression Glass by Barbara and Jim Mauzy.  A wonderfully illustrated and complete reference guide for the beginning or advanced collector. 

Both books can be found online or at your local bookstore.

No matter what you serve this holiday season, your guests will be awed by the beauty of your table.  Grandma’s twice baked casserole never looked so good.