The Shenango China Company (1901 to 1991) of New Castle, Pennsylvania, specialised in commercial dinnerware. Until 1936, Shenango produced only commercial china for hotels and restaurants. Soon after, the company expanded into the domestic market for Haviland and others, although it still focused on hotel and restaurant dinnerware. In 1940, Castleton China became a subsidiary of Shenango China and in 1979, Shenango became part of Anchor Hocking of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Dating Shenango china involves not only an understanding of the date codes but also the maker's marks used for different brands.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Shenango China Company date code chart
Identify the maker's mark. It is usually located on the bottom centre of a dish in an underglaze dark colour (often dark green). If a date code is present within the maker's mark, then dating the china piece will be easy. If not, it becomes more difficult as Shenango did not often change the motifs on its maker's marks.
Look for a date code on the maker's mark. Unfortunately, a date is not present on the majority of early pieces (prior to 1950), but if present, it will be a number code separated by a dash in most instances. From 1901 to 1949, reading the date code is simple. The month is represented by a number (1 through 12), then a dash, then the year of manufacture. Thus a code that reads, "6-25," means that the piece was manufactured in June 1925.
Look for a letter as part of the date code. Most Shenango china produced after 1949, has a date code that consists of a letter and number. This code is a little more complex to date and a code chart (such as provided on the Restaurant Ware Collectors Networks website) is needed to interpret the date.
Examine the maker's mark motif if no date code is present. Estimate a rough date from the design and content of the maker's mark. Unfortunately, Shenango's most popular marks, a seated Native American and a Native American portrait in a circle, have been used since 1901 and are not datable.
Look for maker's marks from Shenango affiliates. The major brand is Castleton China, which dates 1940 to 1980. The Martha Washington "States" reproduction china, with the history of the Washington china as a maker's mark dates from 1932. The Inca Ware mark dates after 1935, the Royal Sentinel mark after 1950, and the Crown Boutique mark dates after 1960.
Look for a "Haviland--Made in America" maker's mark. Shenango produced the American line of Haviland porcelain from 1936 through 1958 and used this mark.
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- "Kovels' New Dictionary of Marks, Pottery and Porcelain, 1850 to the Present;" Ralph and Terry Kovel; 1986
- Lawrence County Historical Society: History of Shenango China
- The Restaurant Ware Collectors Network: Shenango China Date Codes
- My Granny's Attic Antiques: Porcelain, Pottery, China and Dinnerware Marks & History, S-Z
- Replacements, Ltd.: Castleton History