In the late 1920s and early â30s, looking for more ways to increase revenue during hard times, Metlox began producing housewares that quickly grew in popularity. Prior to that time the company had focused on making large ceramic signs for theaters and other businesses.
The Introduction of Poppy Trail
The companyâs foray into the dinnerware business in the early 1930s included the Poppy Trail line. This pattern sustained as a popular seller for many years, and even today it has quite a following with collectors.
Also known as the â200 Series,â Poppy Trail pieces were produced in 15 enticing hues including old rose, sea green, delphinium blue, canary yellow, rust, turquoise and poppy orange. Of all the bright colors, poppy orange is the most common.
Poppy Trail dinnerware can also be found in the pastel colors of powder blue, petal pink, satin ivory, satin turquoise, peach, pastel yellow, and opaline green. These donât coordinate well with the brighter pieces, but make a very nice collection when displayed on their own.
Expanding the Dinnerware Lines
Evan Shaw, known for producing a line of ceramic Disney figurines also popular with collectors, purchased Metlox Pottery in 1946 and continued to expand the dinnerware lines. He bought the Vernon Kilns name and molds when the manufacturer closed in 1958 as well, according to an article originally printed in The Daze, a popular news source for glass and pottery collectors now out of print.
By the 1960s, Metlox dinnerware sales skyrocketed. And since the lines were readily available in major department stores, brides easily discovered and added them to registry lists further boosting sales.
Some of the other dinnerware lines made by this company through the years are Delphinium, California Fruit, California Rose, Painted Desert, Sculptured Daisy, and Tropicana. The company even made a black and white cow printed set of dishes called Holstein Herd right before the company closed in 1989.
Metlox Dinnerware Marks
On older Metlox dinnerware pieces the mark was incised into the pottery, rather than stamped on. Some authentic pieces originally purchased from the Metlox factory have stamped on marks which are smeared, others are stamped cleanly. The incised mark is most desirable when it comes to serious Metlox collectors.
Unmarked pieces can be found, but theyâre not as valuable as those with the older, clearly defined mark. This isnât the case with all antiques and collectibles, but marks remain important to Metlox collectors.
Metlox Beyond Dinnerware
Carl Romanelli, who designed some of the most highly sought Metlox dinnerware patterns in the late 1930s and early â40s, also sculpted bud vases and figurines to look like nudes, animals and sea life. These continue to bring good prices in the collecting community, especially the nudes.
Under Shawâs command, a freehand stoneware designer named Helen Slater later produced a line of giftware for Metlox called Poppets. These whimsical creations were made of natural earthenware and hand thrown. Special color glazes and hand carved faces gave them unique appeal. In all, 88 different Poppets were produced with the Metlox name stamped on the bottom, and each came with a special box. A clever eight-piece band set was even commissioned by the Salvation Army.
The company also produced some darling figural cookie jars and a number of ceramic figurines known as the ânostalgiaâ line. These generally featured vintage automobiles, horse drawn carriages, trolleys and other old-timey modes of transportation.
More on Metlox
To learn more about Metlox Pottery, check out the Collectorâs Encyclopedia of Metlox Potteries (Collector Books) by Carl Gibbs. This reference provides photos of a large number of Metlox pieces to aid identification and includes a value guide, too.