My sister recently gave us both an early Christmas gift by passing on to me our Grandma Imel's everyday dish set and clearing several feet of kitchen cabinet space for herself. She had talked for months about wanting me to have the dishes. They are the Homer Laughlin Golden Wheat design. I was grateful for the chance to use these modest, neutral-colored pieces that remind me of Grandma. They're what my Aunt Ruby describes as porcelainware, something something closer to fine china than stoneware.
These dishes will be great for using around our house sometimes, because they're not overly delicate. Some pieces have small discolorations or chips on them, so I won't feel guilty if we do accidentally break one. And the pattern is common enough that I should be able to buy a replacement piece. They will have to be hand washed, because of their 22-karat gold rims.
It's interesting to me that although these dishes were prizes or premiums in boxes of Duz laundry detergent in the 50s, my grandmother might not have acquired them at that time. My aunt recalls that Grandma liked the pattern and started collecting it later by buying secondhand pieces. Aunt Ruby tells me that during the 80s, when she was selling antiques at flea markets, Golden Wheat was a fairly popular pattern. "I remember that pricewise they were not very expensive, but there were people who were collecting them." She suggests that Golden Wheat dishes are good for a beginning collector or for everyday use.
The bottom of most dishes reads, "Golden Wheat, made in USA, 22K gold, oven proof." I appreciate having something useful and pretty that was made in the United States a half-century ago, even if it's not a rare antique. It seems that the minimal, neutral design makes it sort of timeless.
Chances are that Aunt Ruby helped add to Grandma's collection, because this set includes 12 or more of some items. I have dinner plates, salad plates, cups and saucers, even a pretty creamer or gravey server. Because I remember eating from these at my grandmother's house, I look forward to my girls helping me set the table with them for our dinners. Thanks, Sister.