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April 1, 2013

Collection Reflections: Supermarket dinnerware

Once free, promotional dishes are now valued by collectors

(Continued)

Fill up your tank at the gas station and you were likely to come away with a brown Marcrest cup and saucer in the Daisy and Dot pattern, the same pattern as the plates the A&P was giving away with every purchase of groceries.

When your set was nearly complete, you could go to the local 5&10 Store and buy the bigger serving pièces, like the beanpot, the coffee carafe or the cookie jar, for as little as $1.95 to $2.50. Some grocery stores — like Krogers — even mailed coupons to their customers for a free, three-piece table setting valued at $1.50.

“There is a story about how I acquired my good set of dishes, and it makes them so sentimental to me,” said Becky Pelletier (my mother) of Fayette, Maine.

“It was 1958, and we had just gotten married, and we didn’t have a thing for the kitchen. At the time, Ferland’s Corner Store was giving away beautiful floral dishes with each purchase, so every week Aunt Ida, Aunt Marion and Grammie Pelletier shopped at Ferland’s whenever they needed groceries. Eventually the three of them got me the entire set.

“They were white and turquoise and trimmed in silver, and they had a magnolia in the center, and I just loved them.”

Those Magnolia dishes, which my Mom used only for special occasions, were made by the Lifetime China Co. (a division of Homer Laughlin) in 1957. Because they were discontinued after only one year of production, it is a challenge to find replacement pieces, so she keep them safely tucked away.

Someday I will inherit the dinnerware set, and it will remind me of those wonderful Christmas and Easter dinners in the good old days. Eventually they will find their way to my daughter and granddaughter, along with the story that makes them more valuable than money.

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