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Last published at August 7, 2009 at 9:31 PM

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Treasures: Plates as American as apple pie

Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson, the authors of "Price It Yourself," share their knowledge about antiques and collectibles. This week's topic is on plates marked "Crest-o-Gold."

Scripps Howard News Service

DEAR HELAINE AND JOE: These dessert plates are actually too beautiful to be used for that purpose. There are six identical plates in pristine condition, and they are marked "Crest-o-Gold," "Safin"and "Warranted 22k." We believe their origins to be European, but any information would be appreciated.

— K.G., Stuart, Fla.

DEAR K.G.: It is pleasant to think of these plates as European, but in reality, they are as American as the proverbial apple pie. They were "made" — at least partially — by Sabin Industries in McKeesport, Pa.

This company, founded by Samuel Sabin in 1946, did not manufacture china, but it decorated "blanks" (i.e., undecorated pieces of china) purchased from ceramics companies that made the actual pottery and porcelain. Sabin applied decoration to these blanks — often by using decals — and then resold them to a variety of wholesalers or retailers. It is reported that Sabin also decorated glass.

Some of Sabin's biggest customers were premium companies that provided trading stamps to retailers that offered them to shoppers as an incentive to buy and spend more money in their places of business. The customers would paste these stamps into a book and, when enough books were filled, would take them into the premium company and redeem them for desired merchandise.

We know that Sabin Industries supplied the Quality Stamp Co. of East Liverpool, Ohio, and Sabin may have supplied decorated dishes to other trading-stamp companies as well. In the mid-1960s, Sabin Industries was bought by Chase Enterprises, which had just purchased Mount Clemens Pottery in Mount Clemens, Mich. When the Sabin Industries building burned in 1979, the entire operation moved to Mount Clemens.

The use of a decal achieved the central design on the plates in today's question. The decal is a modern version of the "transfer print" that has been in use since the 18th century; it is printed on a special type of paper that may or may not be coated with plastic.

To use this decal, the area to be decorated is covered with "size," a gelatinous substance made from glue, wax or clay. Next, the paper decal is positioned on the item to be decorated and it adheres to the size. When the piece of ceramic is fired in the kiln, the paper burns away and the decoration becomes permanently incorporated into the glaze.

The particular decals seen on the plates belonging to K.G. are given a number of names, including the most popular, "George and Martha" — a reference to George and Martha Washington. They are also called "Colonial Lady and Gentleman,"and Sabin used this decal, as did a number of other decorating companies operating in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

These plates are not antiques because they are probably circa 1955, but despite their relative youth, there are collectors who are interested in this design. These six plates should be valued for insurance purposes in the $75 to $100 range.

Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of "Price It Yourself"(HarperResource). Contact them at Treasures in Your Attic, P.O. Box 27540, Knoxville, TN 37927. E-mail them at treasures@knology.net.

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