Breakfast Goes Modernistic

Royal Rochester label on the bottom of the batter bowl. 1928.

1928 Royal-Rochester label.


Back in 1999 at an antique store in Frankfort, Kentucky, I came across a very striking electric coffee pot. Painted in an abstract design in bold colors it almost bordered on the avant-garde. I had never seen anything like before, so the $110.00 price was not much of a purchasing deterrent. To me the it exemplified the exuberance of early Art Deco design of the late 1920’s. A crazy, optimistic style that produced Roseville Futura pottery and the Chrysler Building and wouldn’t last long once the Great Depression hit in 1930. Made by Robeson Rochester under their trade name of Royal Rochester, a company well-known for the manufacturing of kitchen appliances.


Royal Rochester coffee pot in the Modernistic pattern.

Modernistic Royal Rochester coffee pot. Ceramic body made by the Fraunfelter China Company.

Once I had the coffee pot, now I wanted to add more pieces and have a complete set. This wasn’t going to be easy because other pieces weren’t turning up. A couple of years later the teapot, creamer and sugar were up for auction on Ebay. The three-piece set ending up selling for over $500.00 and way out of my price range. And once that auction ended more pieces with the same design were not coming up. And I had never come across these pieces at any flea markets or antique malls. But I did learn from that Ebay listing that this pattern’s name is “Modernistic”.

The Fraunfelter China Company of Ohio produced the ceramic pieces purchased by Royal Rochester for their various lines. “Modernistic” is only one line that used these shapes. The lusterware tan stripe and lilac stripe pieces turn up a lot more often and even though they have the same shape those designs are nowhere near as striking as “Modernistic”


“Modernistic”, like all Royal Rochester lines had a full range of pieces to make any breakfast stylish and up to date. Beside the coffee pot and sugar and creamer, a smaller sugar and creamer came with the teapot. The center piece of the line was the large coffee samovar.  Small ceramic cups in metal holders were good for both coffee or tea. A waffle set included a syrup jug, batter bowl and ladle and of course the waffle iron. Completing the line a casserole and pie plate, both came with chrome stands.


Modernistic in the 1928 Royal Rochester brochure

Royal Rochester 1928 brochure featuring Modernistic. Image from

Introduction of Royal Rochester's "Modernistic" pattern.

Advertisement for Bullock’s Department Store in Los Angeles and the introduction of Royal Rochester. November 21, 1928. Image from

The “Modernistic” pattern made its debut during the Christmas season of 1928. What we  now call Art Deco made its American debut only less than two years before. Modernistic styles proved to be popular with more well to do people living in major cities. To the average American the new style seemed as foreign as a martian. Traditional styles, like colonial revival, remained the most popular in the United States through the 1940’s. Radios or refrigerators tended to be the only moderne style pieces in the house. Because of this Royal Rochester’s “Modernistic” ended up being a huge flop. The company’s advertisements for the 1929 Christmas season no longer mentioned this bold and colorful pattern. Since it was only available for a year or less, it makes the pattern extremely rare and hard to find today.


Democrat & Chronicle advertisement 1928.

Christmas 1928, Sibley, Lindsay & Curr Company in Rochester, NY. Democrat & Chronicle advertisement, 12/14/1928. Image from


I never knew, until recently, how short a production time “Modernistic” had. This explained why it took eighteen years to find more pieces. Finally this summer in an antique mall in Wisconsin I found the large creamer, casserole in holder and pie plate. The dealer seeing a good customer told me she had more of this pattern in another mall nearby, just over the Illinois state line. There I picked up many more pieces, including the very rare waffle iron and batter bowl. Being very reasonably priced and 20% off, I took the plunge. I still need to get a few pieces, including the samovar, cups and the probably nearly impossible to find ladle. So the hunt continues!


Waffle iron, batter bowl, pie plate and casserole.

“Modernistic” waffle iron, batter bowl, pie plate and casserole in chrome holder, by Royal Rochester, 1928. Author’s collection.

Royal Rochester's "Modernistic" coffee pot and sugars and creamers.

The “Modernistic” coffee pot I purchased in 1999 with the sugars and creamers purchased in 2017. Author’s collection.


Anthony (A Freakin’, Tiquen’ Guy).

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Reference Library Update – Bel Geddes

The logo of Norman Bel Geddes

Norman Bel Geddes logo. Image from Wikipedia.


Norman Bel Geddes.

Norman Bel Geddes, circa 1925. Image from NYPL Digital Collections.

For October’s reference library update, Driving For Deco brings you a career profile of industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes (1893 – 1958).  The article appeared in the July, 1930 issue of Fortune magazine. Bel Geddes began his career as a set and stage designer working for the Metropolitan Opera. In the 1920’s shows he designed included The Miracle and Fifty Million Frenchmen. In the mid 1930’s he would design the set for Sidney Kingsley’s play Dead End.

The Miracle, 1924.

The Miracle, New York production 1924. Set by Norman Bel Geddes. Image from NYPL Digital Collections.

Dead End, 1935.

Norman Bel Geddes set for Dead End, 1935. Sidney Kingsley’s Pulitzer Prize winning play at the Belasco Theater. Image from NYPL Digital Collections.

Turning from the theatre in the late 1920’s Bel Geddes ventured into the brand new field of industrial design. He achieved new fame by redesigning many standard products. Ranging from kitchen appliances, to cars and other forms of transportation, to homes and factories, nothing was too small or too large for Bel Geddes to tackle. In 1932 he authored the book Horizons in which he outlined his theories and ideas.


1932, Horizons by Norman Bel Geddes

Horizons by Norman Bel Geddes, 1932. Image from

Today, original 1932 editions of this book are rare and can sell between $250.00 and $950.00.


Norman Bel Geddes ideas for planes, ocean liners and cars went far beyond anything of his time. He took streamlining further than any of his contemporaries. Bel Geddes liked to push limits knowing these designs would never materialize.


Airliner No. 4

Norman Bel Geddes Airliner No. 4 (1929-1932). Image from

"Whale"Ocean Liner.

“Whale” Ocean Liner designed by Norman Bel Geddes, 1932. Image from

Locomotive No. 1

Locomotive No. 1 by Norman Bel Geddes, circa 1932. Image from


Motor Car No. 9, 1932

Norman Bel Geddes Motor Car No. 9, circa 1932.


Of all the designs that Norman Bel Geddes created, three are most accessible to collectors today. The 1938 Soda King Syphon bottle, Revere’s magazine stand and the iconic “Manhattan” cocktail set are available with a good deal of cash.

Soda King White

Bel Geddes – Paxton Soda King, White. 1938

Magazine stand for Revere.

Norman Bel Geddes’ magazine stand for Revere. Image from

Manhattan Cocktail Set

The Manhattan cocktail set for Revere designed by Norman Bel Geddes. Image from the Museum of Fine Arts of Houston.


Futurama booklet

Futurama brochure, 1939. Image from

The best showcase for industrial designers in the 1930’s was the 1939 New York World’s Fair.  Bel Geddes created its most popular exhibit, General Motors, Futurama. This massive display provided a glimpse into 1960 America in a simulated coast-to-coast airplane flight. Massive highways with radio controlled cars provided access to cities with different levels for automobiles and pedestrians. There would also be plenty of green space to spend leisure time. Industrial zones would be a good distance away from residential neighborhoods. Many of the ideas that Bel Geddes designed for Futurama would come to fruition in the 1950’s and later.


General Motor's building, NY World's Fair.

Norman Bel Geddes General Motors Pavillion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Image from The New York Times.


To read the Fortune article profiling Norman Bel Geddes industrial design career, click on the cover below.


Fortune Magazine, July, 1930.

July, 1930 Fortune Magazine

 Anthony & Chris (The Freakin’, Tiquen’ Guys)

The Ones that Got Away – Art Deco Antiques we passed on.

For our 100th post, Chris thought it would be “fun” to look back on the Art Deco items we passed on and have regretted since. As he often says, “The time to buy an antique is when you see it; because it can’t be reordered.” We tend to be pretty savvy shoppers on our adventures; none-the-less, we’ve missed a few.

Part of the Roseville 1928-1929 Futura line, catalogue #393-12, better known as “Four Ball” vase, it is indeed a rare find. Regularly selling in the $1200.00 range, we found one at Antique World in Clarence, NY for $65.00 dollars. This was early on in our joint collecting. Since these pieces are unmarked Anthony wasn’t sure if it was a Futura vase. We didn’t have smart phones back then and Anthony felt we didn’t know enough about Roseville to justify spending the money. When we got home, he did some research and back we went the next day. Not to our surprise, but to our disappointment, it had been sold. We still kick ourselves over this one.

Another one we kick ourselves for was a set of six Chase chrome 1930’s canapé trays. Designed so that you could hold the plate and drink with one hand, this is a relatively hard to find item. Found at the Asbury Methodist Church Flea Market in Rochester, NY, they were in excellent condition and priced at about $40.00.  We just purchased a cobalt mirror picture frame and didn’t want to spend more money that day. Dumb mistake!

Although not entirely sure, Chris believes he passed on 4 circa 1930 Crown Ducal cocktail plates at the local Goodwill. Currently selling at about $75.00 per plate, the Goodwill price was $2.99 per plate.

On a trip to Bay City Antique Center, Bay City, Michigan, we passed on an art deco copper and chrome hostess stand priced at only $125.00. Buried, dusty and obviously overlooked for some time, we debated on this for quite a while. It boiled down to what do we do with it. Reason ruled but we still think about this one.


We failed to pick up a Westinghouse Columaire grandfather clock / radio at the Old Mill Antique Mall, West Columbia, South Carolina. Designed in 1930 by Raymond Loewy, it was part of the Westinghouse Company’s 1931 catalog. In decent, working condition, they can go for $900.00 or more. This one, working, was priced at around $600.00

If you follow us regularly you know that Anthony has an extensive collection of vintage Fiesta. In 1948, Homer Laughlin’s Pottery Company produced a juice pitcher in celadon green as part of a promotional set to introduce their new Jubilee line. Extremely rare, we have seen this only twice. The first time was at Heart of Ohio Antique Mall in near mint condition and Anthony passed because of the asking price. The second – can’t remember where – but Chris remembers that we passed on it because of a condition issue (hairline crack).

Lest you feel bad for us, we have passed on some things and not regretted it.

On a whirlwind trip in 2008, we visited every family member in the east and 11 states in a 10-day period.  At Smiley’s Antique Mall, Micanopy, FL, Anthony passed on a Kodak Beau Brownie No. 2A for $165.00. Later the same day, we saw another one at a different store for $125.00.  Anthony passed again joking he wanted to find one for $25.00.


Still the same trip, a sign for Schoolhouse Antiques (a popular name for schools repurposed into malls) found us driving for deco. We were exploring the different rooms when Anthony let out a gasp.  In his hands, a Kodak Beau Brownie No. 2A for $22.00!

Beau Brownie No. 2A

The Kodak Beau Brownie No. 2A (1930 – 1933). Designed by Walter Dorwin Teague.


Anthony found a set of glasses at the Vietnam Vets Thrift Store (now, sadly closed) in Rochester, NY. Six in all, he wasn’t sure what they were but had a gut feeling they were good. Chris was not impressed and thought they were strange looking glasses from the 1970’s.  As 2 were chipped (very small rim chips), Anthony bought the 4 in mint condition for $1.99 each. Ironically, Chris thought he remembered seeing something like them before and thought the pattern was called Rumba.

A little research that night found they were part of Consolidated Glass’ Ruba Rombic line. (Rumba, Ruba – Chris was close!)  This glassware is so rare that minor damage does not affect the value.  As Vietnam Vets was closed the next day, Sunday, Anthony had to wait until Monday at lunchtime to get the other two. Luckily, they were still there. They are currently valued at approximately $250 per glass.

We have since added to the collection but paying premium prices.

Ruba Rombic glassware

Consolidated Glass Company’s Ruba Rombic (1928 – 1932). Designed by Reuben Haley.

We have learned from our past mistakes. Now with more years of collecting experience under our belts, and smart phones, we often do not let great Art Deco antiques get away from us.

Chris & Anthony (The Freakin’, Tiquen’ Guys)

Driving for Deco, Freakin’ ‘tiquen 2017 Part 2, Heading Home

Our next day was a whirlwind of sightseeing before heading back east.

The day started with Mount Rushmore. Essentially, you only pay for parking. The plaza and grounds are a self-directed tour and although crowded, the concourse is designed to handle the mass of people. We never felt closed in. Souvenirs are reasonable priced and Chris picked up a cap for less than $15. There is a museum in the lower level and a theater showing a short film about the design and construction of the monument.

After walking the path around the base of the mountain, it was lunchtime. We expected to be gouged and surprised that the food court offers a good variety of choices at more than reasonable prices. Our pot roast lunch, with  two sides and a drink was less than $7.00 each and delicious. .

A bit of a drive through, and just outside the park, is the Crazy Horse Monument.

Chris was here as a child and it hadn’t been started yet. This is not part of the National Park Service and is funded through private donations. The entrance fee is per person (three or more is a flat fee) and there is a charge to take their char-a-bunk to the base of the mountain. If you are interested to learn about Native American culture, they have an extensive museum. It is a work in progress and when complete, the grounds are destined to include a college campus open to anyone but offering a free education to Native Americans.

Tours to the work site at the top are available during the week.

There are actually two antique stores between Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse. Of course, we stopped at each. Interesting but no purchases made.

Heading east, we made a quick stop at Wall Drug. (For those familiar with Pedro’s South of the Border on the east coast, Wall Drug is the equivalent tourist destination. Lots of souvenir shops and eateries.)

Soon we headed out to the Badlands of South Dakota. Not knowing what to expect, Anthony thought we’d drive straight through the nineteen or so miles along the northern ridge, take a few pictures and be on our way.

There is a fee to enter and the park clearly states that you can go off the designated path but are not responsible for injury or death. “Beware Rattlesnakes!” signs are posted at several points throughout the park. The roads are very well maintained, wide enough for campers to easily pass and designed with plenty of pull overs / pull offs to safely get out of the car and take in the sights. For the adventurous, camp grounds are available and there is a bison reserve further south in the heart of the park.

Over four hours later, we exited with hundreds of beautiful photos and great memories of a natural wonder.

The Badlands of South Dakota.

Yellow mounds in the Badlands.

Sunset in the Badlands.

Leaving the Badlands at sunset. It took us over four hours to drive the 19 miles through the national park.

In all, a beautiful, hot, sunny, hot, long, hot, day. Our goal was to stay overnight at Al’s Oasis, a series of stores, restaurants, hotels and antique mall (Old West Trading Post) right off the highway. As all the hotels were booked, we ended up at the very nice and comfortable AmericInn a few towns over.

Bright and early, we hit the Old West Trading Post. We entered with low expectations of western gear and country goods. While they did carry those items, the majority was a vast mix of items of different eras and styles. They also had quite a bit of deco items and more than reasonable prices. We were tempted to buy more than we did. It is also much larger than it appears. Definitely a place to stop if you’re in the area.

Old West Trading Post Purchases

Another day of driving and we ended up at Antiques Minnesota, Burnsville, Minnesota. Purpose built as an antique mall in the late ‘80’s it is well designed with a good mix of merchandise with over 350 dealers. There were several items of interest and we purchased a repousse deco trinket box. The ladies on the counter were very friendly and told us about antique stores in Stillwater.

Chris at Antiques Minnesota, Inc.

Chris ready to do some hunting at Antiques Minnesota, Inc., just outside of Minneapolis.

Art Deco trinket box.

Metal Art Deco trinket box.

Following the advice from the staff at Antiques Minnesota, we drove to the Midtown Antique Mall in Stillwater. A large three-story building located in the heart of the city, it is well stocked and offers a plethora of merchandise at fair prices. We picked up two Fortune Magazines to add to Anthony’s growing collection and a lady’s travel case.

Stillwater, Minnesota and the Midtown Antique Mall.

The wonderful Midtown Antique Mall in Stillwater, Minnesota.

A traveling case.

A vintage traveling case.

In true Driving For Deco style an impromptu stop brought us to the Hixton Antique Mall, Hixton, Wisconsin. As it was late, the store was already closed but seemed to have promise. As there are four other malls close by, we decided to stay the night.

The next morning we arrived just as the mall opened. The layout is a bit odd as it is a converted school. There are some “hidden” rooms, nooks and crannies that begged to be explored. It is easy to get turned around here and we needed to do some back tracking to be sure we covered everything.  Many items at fair prices, Chris picked up a cute deco terrier statue, a Kensington casserole, and a deco-style polar bear statue. There were several other items we contemplated but ultimately passed on them. In all, a great find and well worth the stop.

Hixton Antique Mall.

Hixton Antique Mall. Hixton, Wisconsin

Deco terrier

Art Deco ceramic terrier picked up at the Hixton Antique Mall, Hixton, Wisconsin.

A few blocks away was Village Peddler. Not a lot of what we collect but we did pick up a couple of Harlequin saucers.

Still a few more blocks away and we arrived at Cobblestone Cottage. A strange mix of new decorator items in a well-appointed entrance and then a bare-bones warehouse style mall to the side. The only purchase was some delicious fudge to curb our appetite.

Down the road a bit and we arrived at Millers Antiques and Auction Company. It seemed geared more toward mid-century, and automotive collectibles.  We were tempted by an unusual etched glass accent lamp and a beautiful deco glass frame with a picture of Clark Gable but there were no bargains here. We left empty-handed.

Across the street was another store that just opened.  A former dinner club, they have wine tasting available for shoppers.  We don’t know if that is such a good mix. Please don’t drink and antique!

Back on the road we made it to original destination, Antique Mall of Tomah. A bright, clean, well laid out store with a variety of merchandise and fair prices. The staff was professional but unlike Antiques Minnesota, they lacked in a sense of humor. Anthony picked up a Eveready electric candle and Chris picked up a small lacquered deco box.



Another day down and long hours of driving, we were ready to pack it in for the night. Bright and early we were off again to visit an old friend.

Midland Arts & Antiques is a multi-level mall housed in an old factory and with little ventilation. Many of the dealers have thoughtfully provided fans to keep things comfortable. Prices are all over the place but we always manage to pick up a few things. This time, we walked away with two  Westinghouse leftover containers, a Kent sugar bowl and a colorful deco cardboard candy box.

Midland Antique Mall

Midland Art and Antique Mall in Indianapolis. Image from Google.

A not-so-easy drive across Indianapolis brought us to the Main Attraction Antique Mall. Medium sized with a friendly staff,  it is bright and attractively laid out with reasonably priced items. Unfortunately, there was nothing of interest for us and we walked away empty-handed.

Main Attraction Antique Mall

Main Attraction Antique Mall, Indianapolis, Indiana. Image from Facebook.

Another old friend, Exit 76 Antique Mall, was our next stop. This is a large mall and although we discussed many items we walked out with just a Harlequin saucer.  While checking out, the salesman asked where Chris was from. Ends up that the salesman once lived in the same area in New Jersey. It’s a small world.

Exit 76 Antique Mall

Exit 76 Antique Mall, Edinburgh, Indiana.

Next stop, Webbs, or rather, what was once Webbs. This store is under new management and now called Centerville Antique Mall. Large and on the rustic side, with lots of glassware and “smalls” at reasonable prices. Anthony purchased a couple of vintage Vanity Fair magazines and a deco painted humidor.

Off to Dayton, Ohio and the Antiques Village.  Our haul? Two bound volumes of 1948 Fortune Magazine (each with three magazines) for the price less than one would normally sell and a hard-to-find Kensington humidor. This is another large mall so be sure to have your walking shoes on. It was about this time our energy started to wane.

Antiques Village, Dayton.

Antiques Village in Dayton, Ohio. Image from Yelp.

Kensington Aluminum Humidor

Mid-1930s aluminum humidor designed by Lurelle Guild for Kensington. Image from 1st Dibs.

Our next adventure, the Ohio Valley Antique Mall just north of Cincinnati. This store has some of the best hours for shopping convenience, 9-9. We did well here taking home a 1937 Philco Bullet radio, Silex Lido coffeepot, one 1932 bound Fortune volume (six issue),  two 1940 bound Fortune volumes (three issues each) and two 1942 bound Fortune volume (three issues each).

Ohio Valley Antique Mall

Ohio Valley Antique Mall, just north of Cincinnati.

Though our plan was to hit The Heart of Ohio Antique Mall the next day, we decided to call it quits and head home. This was great trip filled with many memories of sightseeing and antiques as we went driving for deco.

Packing the car and heading home.

Calling it quits! Chris packing a very full car after being on the road for 12 days.


Chris & Anthony (The Freakin’, Tiquen’ Guys)