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posted: 11/17/2012 4:00 AM

Dishes are everyday earthenware, not fine china

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By Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson

Q. My daughter inherited some dishes from her grandmother. The pattern is "May Flower" by Vernon Kilns and she has a service for eight with extra pieces such as a gravy boat, meat platter, vegetable serving bowls, coffee pot, creamer and sugar. I have tried unsuccessfully to find out the value and hope you can help.

A. The Poxon China Co. was founded in 1912, and was located on a ranch owned by George Poxon in Vernon, Calif. Initially, the firm made bathroom tiles, and few pieces of art pottery.

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Around the beginning of World War I, Poxon began manufacturing dinnerware, mainly the type of items used in hotels and restaurants. Poxon China was sold to Faye Bennison in 1931, and renamed "Vernon Kilns."

Unfortunately, the combination of the Great Depression and an earthquake that damaged part of the plant's infrastructure and destroyed much of its stock made the 1930s a difficult time for Vernon Kilns, but it survived. In the late '30s, the company hired some important American designers, including Don Blandings, Gale Turnbull and Rockwell Kent, to revamp its lines.

Royal Hickman designed the "Melinda" shaped dinnerware in 1942 and it can be found decorated with several designs, specifically "Fruitdale," "Monterey" and "May Flower." These patterns are similar with "Fruitdale" being embellished with representations of fruit and flowers while "May Flower" has only flowers.

These three patterns are comparably priced but examples of "Monterey" seem to be a few dollars cheaper in most cases. Looking at the photograph you enclosed, there are some desirable pieces including the covered vegetable, the coffee pot and the lug-handled chowder bowls.

It needs to be understood that the prices we are about to quote are retail or insurance replacement value, and they should not be construed as the prices that could be obtained if your daughter decided to sell her inheritance.

Selling almost any kind of dinnerware can be difficult and the owners of such items are often surprised at how hard it is to find a buyer and how little buyers are willing to pay. We should also point out that this particular set is everyday earthenware and not porcelain or what would be classified as fine china.

The cups and saucers are normally valued at $15 each and the dinner plates $20 each. Salad plates are much less valuable at $10 and the bread-and-butter plates are often quoted at $8 each.

We could not find a quote for the sugar bowl, but it appears that it would be in the $30-to-$35 range while the creamer sells for $18. The lug-handled chowder bowls are $28 each, while the covered vegetable is in the $120-to-$140 range. The value of the meat plate depends on the diameter. The 12-inch diameter round plate is $18 and the 13-inch is more in the $38 range. The oval platter is $50. This leaves the coffee pot, which probably retails in the $200-to-$225 range, and we found a record of one selling for $129 in May.

• Contact Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson at Treasures in Your Attic, P.O. Box 18350, Knoxville, TN 37928.

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