Dave’s affection for Hall, Autumn Leaf
China began as a young boy growing up in upstate New York. The Jewel Tea man visited his home on a regular basis and his mother purchased groceries, household goods and Autumn Leaf
China, which was a premium. His family owned and operated a bar and restaurant during and after World War II, which was named “River View Inn.”
His mother bought all kinds of stuff from all types of traveling salesmen. Between “Max the Jew” who always wanted to “buy David” and his mother’s threats to give him away to the “rag man”, the Jewel Tea salesman was probably a pleasant diversion among fond memories of food.
Along with Friehoffer's horse and wagon delivering baked
goods and bread the Jewel Tea man posed
For anyone who doesn’t know what a premium is, it’s something you can purchase at a special price after purchasing a particular amount of groceries or other items. Things like that still exist today in the supermarkets we shop in. There are sets of china, pots and pans, tableware and any number of things you can still indulge in.
Then as now, if you purchased a particular amount of groceries per week, then $5.00, now perhaps $50.00, you could purchase a dinner plate, bread plate, cup and saucer and if you saved your shopping and bought larger amounts at one time, you could buy a place setting or even a starter set which might be 4 place settings.
And so it went adding serving bowls, casseroles, sugar and creamer and even ice tea pitchers. The Jewel Tea man visiting the homes made it that much more special and easier
I grew up in a slightly more urban area on Long Island, New York with A & P “grocery stores” as they were known before they were titled “Super Markets.” And then there was Bohack's, which was the best place to buy fresh cut meats. There were premiums available through both of those stores but the china was by companies such as Edwin
Knowles, and one pattern I remember very fondly, Harlequin by Homer Laughlin.
As was the case with both of our families, nine children in Dave’s and ten in mine, not much
china survived. At least enough Autumn Leaf pieces remained from his childhood for Dave to introduce the pattern to me.
One was an old chipped and worn bowl left from his mother. He always told me about his “cereal bowl” he used as a kid but the one he remembered didn’t exist.
It finally turned out to be the bowl of the drip jar, without the lid, which was probably broken at some time, that he remembered fondly as his cereal bowl.
In the early 1990’s we went to a “clean out” auction. That’s when an auctioneer starts with an unsold box lot and keeps adding to the lot so one person might end up with 25 or more boxes when the final gavel falls. The items in the massive box lot group we purchased were so dirty I set up a large bucket of soapy water and another one with
clear water outside the house, just to get the stuff clean enough to bring into the kitchen and wash it in the sink.
There were many hidden treasures but the one that struck us both was the smallest of the set of mixing bowls. When I first picked it up it was black with nothing but the shape visible. After the first wash and rinse we could see that it was absolutely mint. That led to more auctions, and more purchases and advertising to buy a piece or a collection. Now, approximately 17 years later we have a mint service for 20 and lots of serving pieces along with many hard to find pieces. In the months to come we will be re-inventorying our collection, weeding out, upgrading and taking photos to share on our website.
For those who have been bitten by the dinnerware-collecting bug, I will also share some helpful information we’ve learned over the years. From time to time we hope you’ll stop by and visit and perhaps pick up a tip or two.