Digest>Archives> December 2002

Collecting Nautical Antiques

U. S. Coast Guard China

By Jim Claflin


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U.S. Coast Guard later pattern

Over the years we have been collecting a number of pieces of vintage Coast Guard dinnerware and have noticed a number of different patterns. Unfortunately there is no one reference on the subject that would help us to date these patterns but with research we can draw some conclusions. Such china was manufactured in the Twentieth Century for use in ships’ wardrooms and at some ‘stag’ stations. Made of heavy white institutional type china, a never ending variety of pieces can be found including six or seven different size plates and saucers, demi and regular cups, two styles of egg cups, bouillon cups, bone plates, pickle dishes, cream and sugars, gravy boats, two sizes of platters and much more. Given time one could put together a wonderful dinner service of these attractive pieces.

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U.S. Coast Guard cup early pattern

Probably the first pattern used by the newly formed Coast Guard in the 1915-1930 period was borrowed from the Revenue Cutter Service. Identical to the later Revenue Cutter Service pattern, this consisted of “USCG” intertwined, within a turquoise shield. The rim is bordered by a thin turquoise stripe bordered by two thin brown stripes.

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Jackson China backmark

By the 1940’s this pattern apparently evolved into the pattern shown below. This consisted of the same thin turquoise stripe bordered by two thin brown stripes.

However, the shield below was now replaced by the United States Coast Guard emblem in turquoise with crossed anchors surrounding the Coast Guard shield. Backmarks so far indicate that this pattern was manufactured in the 1940’s. Manufactures include Walker China, and Nathan Straus & Sons.

During this same period we also find another pattern, consisting of only United States Coast Guard emblem in blue with crossed anchors surrounding Coast Guard shield, but with no stripes on rim. We have not been able to determine yet whether this is a pattern used during a distinct time period, or rather a second pattern used in the crew mess or for some other use. Manufacturers included Jackson China and Bailey-Walker China.

A fourth pattern, the most commonly found today, was manufactured from 1939 until at least 1977. This pattern is similar to that shown in Fig. 2, but the colors have changed. Pattern includes one rust brown stripe around the perimeter bordered by two thin turquoise stripes. Below is the United States Coast Guard emblem now in rust brown, with crossed anchors surrounding Coast Guard shield. Manufacturers include Jackson China and Bailey-Walker China, H. Walket China, Walthan Straus & Sons, Homer Laughlin China, and Mayer China.

Dating most of these pieces can generally be accomplished by studying the backmarks. Companies changed their names and markings often and by referencing these markings date ranges can be determined. Sometimes date codes were also used. Combinations of letters and numbers were used to indicate date of manufacture. A good eye combined with a detailed reference on the subject can help you to decipher these codes. An excellent reference on the subject is: Conroy, Barbara J., RESTAURANT CHINA - Identification & Value Guide for Restaurant, Airline, Ship & Railroad Dinnerware. Volumes I [1998] & II [1999]. Collector Books. I am sure that many of our past or present Coast Guard readers can shed more light on this subject and we would look forward to hearing from you with your thoughts.

Finally this month we complete our listing of Edward Rowe Snow’s many titles. If you would like a complete listing please forward a self addressed stamped envelope and we will be happy to mail one to you.

Sea Disasters and Inland Catastrophies 1980

Pirates, Shipwrecks and Historic Chronicles 1981

Strolling ‘Round Boston Town

100 Boston Sites in 100 Minutes

Dramatic Tales of the Past

Following the Merrimac

Piscataqua Challenges

1630 to 1971 in Boston Bay

Bi-Centennial New England

The Vengeful Sea, London, (Redman). 1957

True Tales of Buried Treasure (Redman) 1963

Women of the Sea (Redman) 1963

Sea Mysteries and Adventures (Redman) 1964

The Fury of the Seas. London (Redman) 1965

Astounding Tales of the Sea (Redman) 1965

Mutiny and Murder (Redman) 1961

Sea Tragedies (Redman) 1961

Great Sea Rescues. London, (Redman). 1959

Tales of the Atlantic Coast (Redman) 1962

And recently re-published:

The Lighthouses of New England 2002

The Islands of Boston Harbor 2002

Next time, we will take a look some more unusual recent finds. Please continue to send in your questions on the subject or a photograph of an object that you need help dating or identifying. We will include the answer to a selected inquiry as a regular feature each month in our column.

Jim Claflin is a recognized authority on antiques of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, Life-Saving Service, Revenue Cutter Service and early Coast Guard. In addition to authoring and publishing a number of books on the subject, Jim is the owner of Kenrick A Claflin & Son Nautical Antiques. In business since 1956, he has specialized in antiques of this specialty since the early 1990’s. He may be contacted by writing to him at 1227 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602, or by calling 508-792-6627. You may also contact him by email: jclaflin@lighthouseantiques.net or visit his web site at www.lighthouseantiques.net.

This story appeared in the December 2002 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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