Sunday, August 18, 2013

Revisiting Steubenville Pottery

A while back I posted about my "holy grail" of vintage pottery:
I was hoping that someone would see my picture and help me find additional pieces or even information about this pattern.  It was made by Steubenville Pottery in Ohio.  The pottery closed in the late 1950's.  About a half dozen of these luncheon sized plates along with some round dessert plates of the same pattern were among my mother's dishes.  For some reason, I've always loved the pattern and vintage feel of the pottery and wanted to find more.  Over the years I've searched online sites, posted on pottery forums, registered with Replacements, Ltd. and come up absolutely empty.  Not only does no one else acknowledge having this pattern, but no one even can tell me a name or information about it.

So......I got it in my mind that if I would only actually travel to Steubenville, Ohio, someone up there with old ties to the factory would be able to tell me all I want to know and maybe even have a stash of this pattern.  Steubenville was sort of on the way to our destination in Michigan to pick up our grandson and I convinced the husband that it was a good stopping point for our travels and might also help me find the holy grail.

I did my online homework and made a list of antique stores and flea markets, and off we went.  Now,with great apologies to Steubenville residents, let me say, as gently as I can, that this town is in serious need of economic revitalization. I'll leave it at that.  We arrived in town about 2pm and I was concerned that we wouldn't have time to visit all five places on my list.  But, boy was I wrong.  We entered the first address into the GPS, followed the directions and ended front of a residence.  No signs.  Nothing to indicate a store.  The next two were said to be on a main street, but one turned out to be an appliance store and the other was empty.  The fourth address took us just to the edge of town where indeed there was a flea market sign......and an empty lot.  So, with little hope, we began to search for the last address.  Eureka!  It was still in business.  By now I knew that the husband was not a happy camper, so I endeavored to make this quick.  I had printed out pictures of my plate and put my contact info on the bottom, hoping to post it in some of these stores.  I walked into this last shop, showed my paper to the owner and asked him if he knew any info on this plate.

He was certainly the right guy.  His mother had been an inspector at the pottery until it closed.  But basically he said, "Don't know it. Never saw it.  Have no idea what it's called.  They made thousands of patterns and a lot never had names."  He posted my picture and then proceeded to tell me that after the pottery closed it sold wares until 1963 when some woman came and bought all the remaining pottery and moved to Toronto where she and later her son have been slowly selling it off piece by piece.  Hmmm......maybe a trip to Canada?!?  With no more stores to visit, we retired to our hotel.

We did learn that Steubenville was the birthplace of Dean Martin and once a year they have a Dean Martin festival.  They have a Franciscan University (with a great coffee shop called: Holy Grounds) and a restored Fort Steuben which you can tour.

The next morning we continued on our journey to Michigan.  Once we were on the highway we realized that we needed to stop for gas and got off at an exit promising a gas station.  Once off the highway we entered a small Ohio town with a large sign to welcome us to.....wait for it......TORONTO!  So....the lady with all the leftover Steubenville pottery didn't take it to Canada (which I thought was sort of a long way to go with a truckload of dishes).....she moved about ten miles north!!

The holy grail remains unsolved and may stay that way.  I don't think I can put my dear husband through another pottery exploration trip.



  1. I still keep an eye out for plates matching yours but I haven't found any yet.

    As I was reading your post and saw "Toronto" and your thought of it being in Canada, I was saying to myself, no, no, Nina, it's just north of Steubenville. I'm glad you found it.

    I wonder if there's a way you could find the name of the lady in Toronto who bought the pottery and contact her. (I don't have any ideas how to begin, though.)

    My grandparents grew up in Steubenville but I haven't been there since I was a child. I will probably be shocked to see how it looks now.

  2. I really hope you are able to find some more plates! It sounds like a nice trip to me? I love hunting for treasures in antique malls, and I will keep my open still for you!