Vintage Texas Ware Bowls
Vintage Texas Ware bowls are melamine mixing bowls, which were very popular among American home makers through the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s. They have a distinct, speckled appearance and are considered highly collectible, particularly in the United States.
During the 1940s, new technologies made the production of plastic dinnerware possible and it subsequently became extremely popular in homes across America.
The 1930s saw the price of the raw material melamine plummet, making it a prime product for both commercial and household items.
Melamine, a thermo set plastic material, was used in many factories and in much dinnerware production by the late 1940's.
American Cyanamid was one of the leading manufacturers and distributors of melamine powder to various plastics moulders. They name-branded their version "Melmac". Melamine, and more specifically “Melmac”, was marketed by American Cyanamid as a wonder plastic.
Texas Ware bowls are made out of melamine. Known as “garbage bowls”, these speckled tubs not only serve a use in the kitchen, acting as a container for snippets and peels and eggshells, but were originally called "garbage" or "end of day" by the factory and employees themselves, possibly because they incorporated leftover pucks of melamine or spare powders that were leftover from other jobs or wouldn't be used.
Texas Ware were considered the big boy of melamine dinnerware production. Having discovered a way to manufacture their own melamine powers, costs plummeted and the business was able to capitalise on very low overheads.
Additionally, located opposite the factory was a seconds store to which they sold the factory imperfections and unsold stock. So prolific was Texas Ware's production, and so generic their product, melamine dinner ware became known as Texas Ware conversationally.
The most sought-after Texas Ware pieces are ones that were made more as an afterthought and seldom advertised: multicoloured mixing bowls - variously called spatter, splatter or speckle ware - the company made as a means of using up surplus or"reject" manufacturing materials are particularly coveted.
In order to identify an item of melamine dinnerware, turn it upside down and look closely for maker’s marks. Use a magnifying glass if necessary. Genuine Texas Ware is backstamped “TEXAS WARE” with “Plastics Manufacturing Co.” above the name and “Dallas, Texas USA” below. If the backstamp is very hard to read, place a piece of white paper on the bottom of the plastic tableware and rub the side of the pencil lead against the paper. This rubbing of the backstamp is likely to reveal complete information.
As a general rule, the name Texas Ware will be presented horizontally, with any other identifying words featured in a circular pattern around it. Some Texas Ware, especially mixing bowls, were stamped with a number such as 170 or 180 to indicate the size.
Much Texas Ware was designed in order to be easily stackable and many items of Texas Ware were sold in sets, such as a set of three mixing bowls in assorted sizes.
Learn to identify Texas Ware Melmac spatter or confetti patterns generally found in mixing bowls. These multicolor designs on white or beige backgrounds were the result of saving the bits of melamine left over at the end of a production day and using them together to inject and mold the final products. The result was a confetti-like pattern or a spatter of multicolor droplets.
Look for sets of tableware in unusual pastels colours such as gray and chartreuse, as well as brights like orange and red. A variety of patterns appear in Texas Ware, including basket-weave backgrounds with farm symbols, white backgrounds featuring flowers and delicate borders, and popular patriotic symbols like stars and stripes. Texas Ware plastic trays in solid colours or spatter patterns were often used by school and hospital cafeterias.
A Texas Ware confetti bowl sold for $5 at T & S Auction Company in December 2008.
There is a vast selection of Texas Ware on eBay. Prices generally range from $2 to $20, with exceptional pieces or large sets selling for more.
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