Times & Places

The Not-So-Modern Home: Tableware in 1920s America

Explaining that the United States had no products designed in the "modern" taste, Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover declined the French government's invitation to the United States to participate in the 1925 International Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris. Although there were a few exceptions in the field of tableware, including some of Frank Holmes's early designs for Lenox (1995.134.2.A-B, 1995.132, 1997.5), Hoover was correct as far as dishes were concerned.

Before the late 1920s very few designs in America were contemporary in spirit. During most of the interwar period, domestic manufacturers produced and importers brought in designs that were based on conservative English shapes covered with a seemingly endless variety of scroll and floral motifs (1997.217.1, 1996.154.1, 1996.154.2, 1996.154.3, 1996.154.4.a-b, 1997.203.1, 1997.203.2.A-B). The ultimate in these flower designs was Chintzware, which featured vegetation from edge to edge (1998.113). In stemware, glass cut and etched with floral sprays and architectural borders was also popular and remained so through the immediate postwar period.

Excerpt from

Charles L. Venable, Ellen P. Denker, Katherine C. Grier, Stephen G. Harrison, China and Glass in America, 1880-1980: From Tabletop to TV Tray (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2000), 349-350.