I love finding the stories behind vintage items. This past May, I was visiting a West Virginia museum and saw some china dishes displayed. The museum tag stated that the dishes were from the Wheeling Decorating Company. Hhmm? I'd never heard of this West Virginia company. As a West Virginia gal who loves china, I knew I needed to find out some more information.
When I needed another sugar bowl for our church's tea, I purchased from an Etsy seller an affordable Wheeling Decorating Co. piece.
Here is one of many logo markings that Wheeling Decorating Co. used.
The Company existed from 1900-1962. They were a glass and china decorating company -- which means that they did not manufacture the glass or the china that has their logo. WDC's purpose was to decorate the glass and china bought from other factories with etchings, painting, and gold enamel work. The Company purchased "blanks" from about 300 different manufacturers including Fenton (WV), Tiffin (OH), and Heisey (OH).
Decorated glass from WDC is not marked. Pieces that have been identified as WDC's work owe their possible identification to a lucky thrifter. A local man happened to be walking by the then permanently closed WDC while workers were clearing the building. As the man walked through the clean-up, he noticed a design book ready to be placed in the trash. He saved the design book from the trash can, and later gave it to a West Virginia museum. Only from this design book can any WDC pieces be verified today. Collectors believe only about 1/3 of WDC's patterns have been identified since the design book only covers part of WDC's 69 year existence.
I happened upon this WDC compote bowl at my favorite thrift store.
It's in rather poor condition.
This pattern was named "Fingered Swirls, Arrows, and Flowers" or "D-2a." It is one of a few confusing WDC patterns. Several decorating companies used "versions" of this pattern. A collector would need an identification guide for verification because the patterns are excruciatingly close.
Many Etsy and Ebay sellers don't realize the enamel pattern is the clue to a glass piece 's maker or decorator. Don't miss potential buyers. If you are a seller, be sure to include a close-up of the enamel pattern. You may not know the manufacturer or the decorator, but your buyer might!
My sugar bowl features the "Doves, Roses, and Daisies" (D-11) pattern. I thought I had found some salt and pepper shakers that matched my sugar bowl. After closer inspection, I noticed the shakers didn't have any doves in the enamel work.
So pretty, but not from the WDC. My shakers are most likely from the Pickard China Company (Chicago). This pattern is called "Rose and Daisy" which came after WDC's. The shakers are so small they cannot carry the usual logo mark.
Here's another example of the "Rose and Daisy" pattern on this
extremely small plate with a Pickard logo on the back.
The interesting information I learned concerning the Wheeling Decorating Company came from a beautifully detailed guide called Wheeling Decorating Co.: Identification & Value Guide by James L. Webster. Webster used interviews with former WDC employees, the rescued design book, and available archived print resources to write this informative history.
Collector Books Press, 2003
Here are a couple of Etsy sellers who currently have WDC
items for sale. With their permission, I'm using their photo's and links.
(A possible WDC piece,
but would ask seller for a close-up of the enamel pattern)
This gorgeous set is really stunning.
I wish I had more photographs to show you.
The decorated china pictured in the guide book is absolutely wonderful.
I'm going to be watching for more
Wheeling Decorating Co. items.