I have a thing for vintage china. I own a lot of it, and use all of it. Sunny, the antiques dealer I worked for in college introduced me to a wonderful line called Salamina, designed by famed artist Rockwell Kent for Vernon Kilns. Kent designed several patterns for Vernon Kilns, including, “Our America,” “Moby Dick,” and this pattern.
Distributed in 1939, Salamina dinnerware was based on a book he wrote and illustrated by the same name about a native Inuit woman who was his housekeeper and mistress when he lived in Greenland.
The dinnerware he designed was very expensive for Vernon Kilns to produce, with the cost to buyers almost double the price for a typical set at the time. Marketing materials called the dinnerware “beautiful enough to be in a museum,” and “art for everyone.” Unfortunately, it was unaffordable to most and quickly discontinued, making it rare and collectible today. The outlines of Kent’s designs were transferred on the dinnerware, but seven colors then had to be painted on by hand. Looking at two plates side by side, it’s easy to see the differences made by the hand painting. Cool, right?
No second issues or reproductions have ever been made of this line, due largely to the fact that Vernon destroyed the stamps that were used, which seals the rarity of these wonderful pieces.
I’m a huge fan of Kent’s work, and think he sounds like someone I would have really enjoyed knowing, which adds to the appeal of collecting his work. When Kent died, The New York Times described him as “… a thoughtful, troublesome, profoundly independent, odd and kind man who made an imperishable contribution to the art of bookmaking in the United States.”
Salamina Dinnerware by Rockwell Kent….it is, indeed, museum quality, but also sturdy, and a pleasure to use. While I don’t cook, I do set a nice table!