Jewel

The first pieces of the Jewel Tea Autumn Leaf collection were made in 1933.

 

Once upon a time, American households regularly set tables and had family meals. Glass makers and china companies capitalized on this wholesome tradition by flooding the market with millions of pieces that once graced everyday tables of yore.

American Fostoria line 2056 and the Jewel Tea Company hawked their wares in a contrasting fashion: Fostoria was sold through fine department stores and Jewel Tea by the traveling salesman. Sadly, the popularity of collecting line 2056 and Jewel Tea has lessened, much like the family dinner.

Line 2056 is commonly known as “American Fostoria” and was produced continuously from 1915 until the plant closed in 1986. The geometric, cube-like pattern was unusual, revolutionary and intriguing to the housewife who desired to show the family and neighbors that she was a “future-thinking woman” setting a new course.

At one time, Fostoria was the largest glassware maker in the country and employed over a thousand people who produced more than seven million pieces in over fourteen colors. Since line 2056 was sold in a more upscale environment, it was more commonly used in upper-tier society circles.

As appraisers, we see a great deal of the clear American Fostoria pieces, such as plates, serving dishes, candy dishes and appetizer plates that all have nominal but no extraordinary value. Folks can purchase many of these items at local malls – a dinner plate is $6.98, and a water glass goes for $4.98 each.

However, the early Fostoria pieces produced in specific colors (red, peach and cobalt blue) still command a collector value. As an example, a cobalt blue footed candy dish can fetch up to $65 or more. Of course, some companies copied the design, like Indiana’s Whitehall Company, which produced avocado pieces that are mistakenly identified as American Fostoria. It takes a trained eye to pick the real from the fake.

Likewise, Jewel Tea, which featured the “Autumn Leaf” pattern manufactured by the Hall China Company from 1933 until 1976 (except for a few pieces briefly reintroduced in 1978 and stamped accordingly), was also prized tableware at one time.

The pattern first entered the home by door-to-door salesmen from the Jewel Tea Company and later as “customer premiums.” The first item was the famous teapot introduced to educate the American housewife on the proper method of brewing tea and the pot to brew it.

Other pieces followed as interest grew. Many people mistakenly identify the piece as a “Jewel Tea” pattern instead of the correct “Autumn Leaf.” The company produced over 42 million pieces.

Like Fostoria, the commonplace has even less value. Mixing bowls, serving pieces, coffee cups and saucers are found almost everywhere. The rarer pieces are still collected by a shrinking collector market that looks for the unusual. Again, it takes a trained eye to know the nuances of the historical changes, such as the purported 160 different shapes and color combinations of Hall teapots.

Collecting along with values shift with each generation’s interests and demands. Sadly, as the everyday evening meal with a set table has drifted to passing memories, the clamor to collect those memories in the tangibles of glass and china has also lessened.

– Contact Tom Helms at The123@cox.net or A-Z Appraisal & Estate Consultants; 5525 N. 12th St., Phoenix, AZ. 85014; email damshill@yahoo.com.