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Collecting Vintage Melmac & Melamine Dinnerware

Updated on March 24, 2019
retrochalet profile image

I am a vintage junkie with a huge love for glove molds. I have another hub pages under iramency if you have enjoyed reading this.

Melmac is Colorful!

Collecting melmac is a colorful hobby! These are Russel Wright's GATX line called Meldaur
Collecting melmac is a colorful hobby! These are Russel Wright's GATX line called Meldaur | Source

Collecting Vintage Melmac 101

Collecting vintage melmac can be fun and inexpensive. Putting together a set piece by piece can be a challenge and viewed as a "treasure hunt." Thrift stores, yard sales, garage sales, flea markets, Etsy, Ebay and online sites can prove to be good sources to assemble your set.

I started out 30 years ago putting together 10 cent pieces to assemble a pink set. I soon found out that none of my pinks matched due to the fact there were so many molders and different lines and hues available! Once you get into collecting, it can be fun and exciting!

It was then after my first glimpse of Russel Wright's

Expect to pay higher prices for designers or hard to find pieces. Start small and simple and assemble what you can for less, then pay more only for pieces to complete your set.

Vintage melamine dinnerware makes a nice modern display in your home or colorful addition to your china cabinet. Dishes can go well at a summertime cookout or special picnic but should not be microwaved.

Melmac Collecting Can Be Colorful and Fun!

These are old color samples of Melmac (Plaskon) which is a material used to mold the melmac.
These are old color samples of Melmac (Plaskon) which is a material used to mold the melmac. | Source

Colors Provide Option for Collectors

Colors Provide Option for Collectors
Colors Provide Option for Collectors

My Russel Wright Melmac Shelves

My old display of Russel Wright Melmac Shelves
My old display of Russel Wright Melmac Shelves | Source

Tips for Display of Melmac

As you can see, Melmac can be a gorgeous collectible. These used to line the walls of my office and put me in in a hugely creative mood. Melmac dishes inspired my every move due to the bright colors and funky designs.

I strongly recommend a glass faced cabinet, as these are a real pain to dust. Also be wary of the cabinetry you use, as most melmac can be extremely heavy, especially that of the 1940's to 50's which some lines were chunkier and had more melamine.

Cheaply made particle board will eventually bend and break when overloaded with melmac!

Some collectors choose to display one place setting in a set, and pack up the rest.

Keep your melmac out of direct sunlight. It can damage it or fade it.

Some of the best displays I have seen are that using an old china cabinet or hutch where the owners have painted them to look bright and funky colors. You could do this by going to a local thrift, Facebook Marketplace, or thrift store and buying a used hutch with good windows or display area. Then use a one-coverage paint like Annie Sloan chalk paint (for a matte look) or a high coverage gloss.

Did You Know...........

Designers of Yester Year took Pride in Making their Melmac as shown in Russel Wright's Residential (Good Design Awards at MOMA)  Many people are unaware that so much work went into a Melmac dish, and that some lines were made by famous designers!
Designers of Yester Year took Pride in Making their Melmac as shown in Russel Wright's Residential (Good Design Awards at MOMA) Many people are unaware that so much work went into a Melmac dish, and that some lines were made by famous designers! | Source

Care and Cleaning Tips

Cleaning Melmac for use or display should be done with care.
Cleaning Melmac for use or display should be done with care. | Source

Cleaning

Vintage melmac that appears dull has been cleaned to death or ran though the dishwasher. Clean gently with warm water and sponge. Avoid abrasive powders.

What do you like?

IraMencyMelmac
IraMencyMelmac

What is your Favorite Brand of Vintage Melmac?

See results

New or Old?

Do your research before buying melmac. New melamine dinnerware will be made in China, and this is a clue it's newer and not vintage. There are some great newer makers such as Zak Designs. Furthermore you may find that some long tenured American companies like Prolon, Carlisle, and even Halsey may still manufacturing melamine in the United States or abroad having been purchased or bought out. To my knowledge, Prolon is still designing for restaurants. Most are used for restaurants, school cafeterias, and the military. Some have plants as well in Mexico, or Puerto Rico.

In Summary

Melmac collecting can be fun and inexpensive. Flea markets, thrift shops, estate sales, Etsy and Ebay can help you build sets of your favorite kind.Sometimes finding completer pieces will be hard -- I view it like a treasure hunt--it may be difficult to complete a set, but in the process you may accumulate extras you don't need. Sell the extras to pay for those hard to find pieces!

Leave me a Message or Comments!

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    • profile image

      jane silverman 

      6 months ago

      i reallylove melmac and read your blog melmac central thank you for all the great information

    • profile image

      Joan 

      4 years ago

      I enjoyed this lens and wanted to k is if http://melmaccental.com yours? I collect texasware !

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Howdy! Just purchased a set of four beautiful red, yellow, and teal blue confetti melamine "school lunch" trays today at a flea market; the manufacturer is "King-Line". Can you tell me if this is vintage or a more modern product? They are super fun so regardless I adore them, but would like to learn what I can. Thanks for your insights! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Hi, I have a Brookpark 1520 turkey platter with the Kellogg's Corn Flakes Sunshine Taste on the outer rim and Cornelius in the center. Could you tell me some information about it especially what it is worth? I love it and am not interested in selling it. Thanks so much. I have some platters and other misc. items that I have collected over the years. Thea

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      good job

    • TTMall profile image

      TTMall 

      7 years ago

      Thank you for such an informative lens.

    • TTMall profile image

      TTMall 

      7 years ago

      Thank you for such an informative lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      Hey, are you related to this site http://retrochalet.blogspot.com ?

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      I don't have any melmac dishes, but I do like them. This is a colorful display of them.

    • rayray131 profile image

      rayray131 

      7 years ago

      Very nice lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      Love this lens! Do you also do the http://iramencydesigns.blogspot.com site? If so I got some great graphics off there and wanted to say thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      Great lens and I'm trying to remember how much of the melamine you show we had when I was a kid. I definitely remember some of it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      Wow! I remember melamine, so well, but never was a big fan, I do think this is a great Lens though!

    • retrochalet profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer 

      8 years ago from Hedgesville, WV

      @anonymous: Glad it worked! A bit time consuming but , what can you do?

    • retrochalet profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer 

      8 years ago from Hedgesville, WV

      @anonymous: LOVE THE MELMAC!

    • retrochalet profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer 

      8 years ago from Hedgesville, WV

      @Retro Loco: awesome Vicki love the vintage apron lens!

    • retrochalet profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer 

      8 years ago from Hedgesville, WV

      @anonymous: Oh my! Boontonware in the attic! Hope it turned out okay for you! That brand is fun and lots of pieces still easy to acquire

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      My father passed last Valentines day and my grandmother's Boontonware had been in his barn attic, for at least 30 years. Rats and squirrels had lived in and near the crate so I had to bleach them all. I'm overwhelmed with all this items I have to research. Thank you for your info.

    • Retro Loco profile image

      Vicki 

      8 years ago from USA

      I love the pretty colors and simplicity of Melmac dishes! I only have a few pieces, but I hope to collect more as I find them and the price is right. Great lens -- I enjoyed looking at your collection. I gave you a thumbs up and a lensroll to my Vintage Aprons lens. ~Vicki~

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      I collect melamine as well. Glad to see others are also into this hobby. I haven't made a lens on it yet though.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      Love the vintage melmac dinnerware. I did not know your trick for getting the stains out, clever.

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