Sunday, February 27, 2011

Texas Ware - Melamine Dishes from the 50's

One thing I really enjoy about having a booth at an antiques mall is that I am learning about vintage items I might not ordinarily get for myself.  A couple of days ago, my friend Susan gave me some Texas Ware melamine (aka Melmac) dishes that had belonged to her mother.  I have seen similar dishes, but didn't really know much about them.

The set had some basic pieces - dinner plates, cups and saucers, bread and butter plates.  There were also several different serving dishes and a large 14 inch platter.

I am not planning to keep them, but I found myself really enjoying learning about them and I hope that whoever gets them has as much fun with them as I have.

The dishes had been briefly used by her daughter, Katie.  When Katie was finished with them, she carefully wrapped each dish in newspaper.  I have come to despise anything wrapped in newspaper and after yesterday, I am even more firmly against it.

Newspaper residue can be cleaned off fairly easily from glass and ceramic and china.  But melamine?  Oh, my.  I spent hours gently cleaning each dish with dish detergent and a tiny bit of baking soda, being careful not to add scratches or damage the pattern on the white dishes. I also used a very soft old green scrubby pad on the toughest spots.  Even though it sounds like drudgery, I actually enjoyed this task.  I felt like a retro period archeologist.  As each dish was cleaned up, I knew I was giving it a new lease on life and it would go on to be loved and appreciated by someone new.

Newspaper ink is very, very messy.  It occurred to me that there was no need to have wrapped plastic dishes anyway.  They aren't apt to break!  I guess, it's just ingrained in us that when packing dishes, they must be wrapped. I must say, the dishes were really nice once cleaned up!

Most of the dishes were a fun shade of pink and would look great in a retro kitchen. Some of the dishes were white with pink and blue flowers. It was very popular to use several coordinating colors and/or patterns together.  I tried to find out what this pattern was called.  I saw zillions of other patterns, but not this particular one.

Melamine was introduced in the 1930's, but didn't become popular with the public until after WWII.  Texas Ware was one of a number of brands.  It was founded in 1946 and was the largest producer from 1957 through 1996. Some collectors feel that the best examples are from the 50's and before - the melanine heyday.

Texas Ware dishes are all tapered and designed to be stackable. That was promoted in their marketing.  They are also practically unbreakable.  The were inexpensive - a three bowl set went for less than two dollars in the 1950's.  They were around 5 dollars in the 1980's.  Even now, these pieces are very inexpensive to collect.  I won't get much for them in my booth.  Who cares.  I have had fun playing with them. 

On the downside, they should not be put in the dishwasher.  They would be damaged if put in the microwave or oven. Acidic foods can cause damage.

The stamp on the back of each piece gives you a clue about when it might have been made and more. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get a lot of information about that.  I'm planning to ask Nicole, Rockin' B's queen of retro, if she has any info.

There were a good many different stamps in this set. Of note is the piece on the top left below.  It uses the term MELMAC. If you were a plastics molder, you would have to buy Melmac molding powders from Cyanamid or else you could not use the word Melmac.

The number indicates the size.  There are letters inside a circle towards the bottom.  What do those mean? I'm still trying to find out more about these backstamps.

I read that the oldest dishes have the following information in the stamp: Plastic Manufacturing Co., TEXAS-WARE, Dallas, Texas, USATexas Ware was on every piece.  PMC was on every piece, but none wrote out Plastic Manufacturing CO.  I didn't see Dallas, Texas, USA on any of the dishes.

This is an example of an older stamp -

I found a number of old ads -

Want to know more?

Moxie has an amazing collection of Texas Ware bowls in the splatter pattern.  Some people who collect Texas Ware only look for the splatter patterns (also called confetti or speckle-ware). These bowls were made with leftover bits and now they are the most popular of all.  Rachel Ray collects the old ones and sells new lookalikes.

Flickr has a whole section devoted to photos of Vintage MelMac and LustroWare.

Retro Chalet - MelMac Central has loads of info on melamine dishes.

Want to buy some?
Texasware on Etsy
Texasware on Ebay

I'm hooking up this post with the following link parties:


  1. Great post. Thanks 4 the history. I too do not like newspaper for wrapping. I remember mother having some of these but R long gone. Have a great day.

  2. Thanks for the Melamine education. Very interesting! I have a botth too and my favorite iss restocking and rearranging the shelves and shopping of course. I stopped here to see if you still have your garden and porch parties but I guess you don't huh?...Christine

  3. Very informative...I remember Melmac from the 60's. See bits of it every now and then but I had not heard of Texas Ware!
    Happy Pink Saturday

  4. I love your profile. I cannot wait until the day I get to retire:-) Love the pink!!!

    Enjoy your day!!!

    Happy Pink Saturday
    Warm Wishes, CindyLew

  5. Fun to learn something new! I love the pink! Visiting from Pink Saturday.

  6. Great post. My mom had a set of Milmack with small pink roses on the dinner plates and pink serving dishes and cups (our kitchen was red). I still have one of the pink serving bowls, sure wish I had the whole set. She also had some of the splatter mixing bowls, another thing I wish I had. Always love those, but mom got rid of them I guess. Thanks for bring a smile.
    Happy PS

  7. Wonderful post! I love these dishes! I have a couple of pieces of pink Texas ware but it's hard to find. Of course my bowls are my fav's. I too have a few confetti bowls. I will have to visit Moxie! Thank you so much for joining Junkin Finds Friday and sharing such an interesting and fun post! hugs, Linda

  8. That is a fabulous collection; I love the pinks the best! Have a great weekend.

  9. Omigosh, melamine, what memories that brings back! My favorite was the turquoise that my grandmother had. About newspaper, it makes your hands dirty and before you get them clean, you've smudged all over the place.

  10. Hi Denise; thanks for the research, but mostly I love the old vintage ads so thanks for including them; don't know why but I drawn to them; reminds me of long ago; missing my mother and grandmother. Memories - keep sharing - Terri

  11. What a great post! So informative! My Mother used to have melamine dishes that were really pretty with a single stem rose on them. I had a big Texas Ware Spatter bowl that I loved but it slipped out of my hand, hit something on the counter and fell to the floor cracked in three pieces!!



  12. Hey Denise...I found you at Pink Saturday. What a great post. I swear my Mom had those dishes with the roses when I was young. I wish I could ask her...anyway, this was so interesting and it makes me want to buy some Texas Ware! I'm a new follower and a fan of your blog. Come visit me if you have time. ~Ann

  13. hi! I just found you via A La Carte. I was just telling Linda that my mom had a collection of the TexasWare mixing bowls, but I think they are long gone sad! This is a great little set that you've been given - someone will buy them, I'm sure. One thing that you may want to try when cleaning old stuff are those magic erasers - just try a little scrubbing on an inconspicuous place to make sure that it works well with the finish. Just a thought! -diane

  14. Hi, what a great post on Texas Ware. I am going to look for some at the thrift store. It is beautiful. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a sweet message. Hope to see you again. Karie

  15. Happy Pink Saturday!

    Well, this has been such an informative post.

    I really enjoyed it!

    ~ Gabriela ~

  16. Your Texas Ware post is so interesting. I just saw a confetti bowl recently but didn't know the history so I passed on it. Bummer! Now I will keep my eyes open to these treasures. I love how you incorporated the old ads too. I'm a sucker for old magazines! Thanks for sharing. I'm visiting from A La Carte and I'm your newest follower.
    ~ Lynn

  17. Happy sweet and sugary Pink Saturday...God Bless you and keep you this week...

  18. Oh, I love those old ads. Great information. I didn't know that you couldn't put these in the dishwasher. The pinks are pretty. What a big collection. You are so right about the newspaper. it's horrible! Thank you for linking to Favorite Things. laurie

  19. Found your blog from Googling Texasware. My grandfather used to work for Texasware in Dallas. My first dishes were factory seconds. I still have and use the mixing bowls, glasses and serving dishes. My favorite is a mixing bowl with a pouring spout.

  20. I read your blog after finding some trays on ebay. The reason I searched is that my parents, before moving to California, worked making Texas Ware. I can remember my Mother talking about how she would find pieces of Texas Ware and could tell if it was good quality or it had some flaw. My mother passed away just short of her 86th birthday in 2004. And worked in plastics factory durring WWII making bomb fuse casings.

  21. AnonymousJuly 13, 2012

    I fell in love with my Granny's Flyte set, a service for 16 in four colors (gray, green, orange & yellow) They included matching forks knives and spoons with melamine handles...alas she had received the set in the late 50's and now only one serving bowl remains...just purchased a complete service of 8 off of Ebay,circa early 60's, includes the sugar bowl/creamer, a divided serving bowl & gravy boat.....too bad this set is pink, I might be making an offer if it wasn't lol......

  22. AnonymousJuly 29, 2012

    How can you find out the name of the pattern? I have part of a set that just says melamine ware and made in china. It has leaves and grapes on it. I can not find any like it anywhere. Or how to find the age of them. anyone know? Thanks in Advance.

  23. Bought my first Texas Ware piece at an antique co-op in my area. It is a 118 confetti bowl with green, beiges and brown, very pretty. I first thought it was ceramic but when I turned it over and saw Texas Ware I was curious. I bought it because I love the colors and now I am really interested in finding more. Your web-site is very informative and I will be looking for more pieces.

  24. I found your site after googling Texas Ware. I just bought 4 dinner plates and 4 salad plates at Goodwill. They have the older stamp on them, but I really wonder if they are old. 2 of each are red and 2 of each are turquoise or blue. I was excited they did not say made in china! I bought them for camping, but after reading your post I may have to try to save them.

  25. i have some texas ware with wheat pattern, cups & saucers,side plates and 1 platter. The best way to clean these dishes i found out thru my husbands aunt is to put them in hot water with some bleach, no scrubbing and they come out beautiful. Save the elbow grease girls.

  26. I have a set of Texas Ware dishes, plates, cups, saucers, bowls, platters. They are pastel, blue, pink and yellow. Some of the plates have been used for several years and have many knife cuts in them. I wonder if putting them in hot water and bleach would help as suggested in another post.

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  28. I have a gold mixing bowl made by Texas Ware. It is gold, in color. I was just wondering if they still made them anymore. The # on the bottom of the bowl is: 118. I've had this bowl since I 1st started up house-keeping, which was in 1972. Out of all the dishes I've had, this one piece has out-lasted them all. I would like to have more pieces, but the more I've been reading, the more I'm finding out that IN can't just order more. Am I right? Let me know, if you can. My e-mail address is: Thanks for any info you can give me.

    1. Your best bet is to look for more on Ebay and Etsy.

  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

  30. I've been searching online for information about Melamine dishes, and boy did I finally find something interesting.

    I have six saucers from Texas Ware. They're the white ones with the pink and blue flower designs like the ones you have posted. I found a 10 inch plate today (which is how I found about the name Texas Ware actually) and it's the same one in the set like the one you've posted.

    Have you found anything more on this particular set? I was thinking about listing them and see what I could get. The six saucers I have are in a set of 8 I assume. They have AA, BB, etc. on the bottom, but I'm missing EE and what I would assume to be HH (I have up to GG).

    Anyway, thank you so much for the information and would love to hear from you!

  31. Hi, My father was the last Chief Process Engineer for PMC from the mid 70's till the late 80's when he passed away. PMC was bought and closed by Suncoast Plastics in 1989 I think. One of my summer jobs was to make these Dallas Ware and Texas Ware dishes and then do the UL break testing on them. Those that didn't pass or came off the press wrong were sorted into bins by colors that looked decent together, reground, recaked and made into the confetti line of bowls and trays so nothing would be wasted. Because of the mixture of scrap used, no two bowls were exactly alike. Those bowls were literally the cheapest things PMC manufactured. I still have a confetti mixing bowl that I made at the plant on Westmorland Ave in the Oak Cliff part of Dallas. Mine is from a bin of plastic cake that had orange, red and white. I still use it at home today close to 30 years later. I had no idea they were valuable. The bowls and the trays with the drab grays and greens went to the Texas Prison System. The 2 smaller bowls that nest inside it have long ago been worn out and destroyed. Alan Michels, Lubbock, TX.

  32. thanks for clearing up a question for me, I wondered if Melmac and Texas ware were the same, I have somehow acquired a large collection, a lot of the brown and some nice colored pieces, and some of the designed pieces. not sure which ones I would like to keep and which ones to sell :-( I just received a large box at an auction for 50 cents and it has almost 100 pieces. I really love these dishes, I feel like a hoarder. But I know I have to share my treasures. Thanks



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