The Thrill of Finding Vintage Made in USA (or, It Finding You)

Two stories: Pfaltzgraff dishes and a 1960 United Furniture Corporation credenza

I love researching for Made in USA products. I love when people tell me about stuff or send me links to things. I love when I find things unexpectedly in stores.

But the one place where I’ve had the best luck is when pieces actually find me — and especially when I’ve been waiting years for just the right ones.

It’s almost like the universe bringing together two lost lovers who have been searching for their soulmates for forever. Suddenly, you meet — and you know. Here is the one you’ve been waiting for.

My first find: Pfaltzgraff dishes

In the spring of 2016, my son was home from his freshman year in college and said he needed new clothes and could we go to Savers.

Me: “What’s Savers?”

One had actually opened a few months before here in town, so off we went and man-oh-man, I was in heaven when I first spied the household items / dishes section.

While my son looked for jeans and things, I meandered up and down the aisles, looking at stuff that reminded me of my childhood. Remember the Joe Namath popcorn popper?

Suddenly, my attention was caught by something sitting on the shelf half hidden: Dishes! Six dinner plates and bowls and ten salad plates. I had been looking for dishes just like this for years — and here they were!

The blue strips caught my eye immediately!

I lifted one up and couldn’t believe it when I saw the mark: “Made in USA.”

I think they were mis-priced, because that $3.99 refers to all six plates. Major score! The entire set was less than $20.

Since then, I’ve added to the set — which is known as Wyngate Stripe — by purchasing coffee mugs, a gravy boat, and a square platter from eBay and Replacements, Ltd. My son bought me an oval serving platter and bowl.

Founded over 200 years ago, Pfaltzgraff started as a pottery shop. The Pfaltzgraff family immigrated to the United States in the early 1800s and set up a small potter’s wheel and kiln on their modest twenty-one acre homestead in York County, Pennsylvania. 

The company grew and became one of the best known designers and marketers of dinnerware, drinkware, and ceramic accessories.

All of it was made in the USA . . . until it wasn’t.

In 2005 the company became part of Lifetime Brands, Inc., which also owns iconic American brands KitchenAid® and Towle®, among others.

You can still find sets and individual pieces of these classic dishes on eBay and Replacements, Ltd. The quality is exceptional — my pattern, which technically isn’t vintage, was manufactured between 1997 and 2002, has yet to crack or chip.

I use it on a daily basis and absolutely love it. I still can’t believe it simply turned up on a shelf at Savers. It cleaned up quite nicely.

Heirloom watermelon from the farmers market – © 2021 Dianna Huff

1960s credenza by United Furniture Corporation

I knew I wanted a credenza for my living room because I could actually see one in my head. The exact one. I searched online for several years, but nothing seemed right.

At the same time, I would either drive or ride my bike past the (now defunct) Be Modern shop in Ipswich, MA. I’d see the “Open” flag out but never stopped, even though each time I passed, I’d think, “I need to visit that shop.”

In 2018, I had finished a 50-mile ride for charity and was yet again driving past the Be Modern shop. This time, I pulled over and parked. To this day, I’m not sure why — especially since I was still in my cycling clothes and covered in dry sweat and salt from my ride (yuck!!).

I walked in and looked around — oh the furniture. Mid-century heaven! The pride of place was a $7,500 desk. Mouth-watering gorgeous.

And there, tucked away in a corner, was my credenza.

United Furniture Corporation 1960 credenza on display at Be Modern – © 2021 Dianna Huff

I couldn’t believe it. I asked the shop owner the price — and was surprised at the relatively low price. “Why so low?” I asked.

It was because the credenza was made in the US vs. Denmark, she explained. Everyone wanted Danish pieces. This piece had been in the shop awhile.

I said, “I’ll take it.”

As an aside, don’t you love the piece of art displayed on it? That too, reminded me of my childhood. I don’t know the name for the technique, but the “painting” is actually sand. Love the lamps, too!

A few days later she and her husband delivered it. She also took a quick tour of my house and gave me a few design pointers — while also noticing the MCM lamp that needed restoring.

The credenza fits perfectly in my living room and is my “anchor piece” — or what I want to build the living room around. The door has a wonderful piano hinge.

The whole piece is beautiful and brings me so much joy. You can read about the lamp and its restoration.

© Dianna Huff, 2020

I did some research about the United Furniture Corporation but could only determine that it had been located in Lexington, NC, and had begun producing furniture during the 1920s. From some blog posts I’ve read, their Depression-era pieces are still available. You can also find some very nice MCM pieces on Charish.

Someone asked that I include a photo of myself. I’m not a big selfie-taker and while I have a ton of house photos, I don’t have that many of me actually doing work on the house.

However, I did come across this one I took after a young male Downy Woodpecker crashed into the slider a few years ago — right after the three-season room was removed.

He landed dazed and confused on my porch. I was able to sit with him for several minutes while he regained his senses. He did safely fly away.

A bird in the hand . . . © Dianna Huff, 2021

Behind me in the photo you can see the old slider that was original to the house. Talk about drafty!

My current energy-efficient Anderson slider (mostly made in the US) has built-in blinds, which I keep lowered to prevent bird crashes like this. The porch railings were made in the USA by Wolf Railing.


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