The Chase, Brass and Copper Company was in the business of making brass and copper pipes, nails and toilet bowl floats, Revere and Alcoa both were in the business of cookware (pots and pans). In the early 1930’s as the depression deepened to its lowest point, Chase decided to expand its sales base and go into the giftware business. Giftware that spanned the gamut from smoking items to cocktail shakers, electric buffet servers and lamps. Made of chrome and copper, their giftware line was such a success that Revere and Alcoa followed a few years later with their own lines. Revere, like Chase made their items of chrome, brass and copper. Alcoa, an aluminum company had developed a new, special type of aluminum for their giftwares; they christened the new line Kensington, after the town the company was in, New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Introduced in the fall of 1934 the Kensington line was modern with classic accents, usually in brass. All the items were created by industrial designer Lurelle Guild. Here is the Stratford comport and Thistle dish, both of which were among the first items when Kensington hit the market in October of 1934.
If you go to antique shows, antique malls or stores one often comes across giftwares made by Chase. Chase collectibles command pretty high prices, with items made by Revere not that far behind. But pieces of Kensington can often be bought for a fraction of the cost of Chase and Revere. The irony of this is, in the 1930’s Kensington was the most expensive of the giftware lines. I think that most people who sell Kensington at flea markets, thrift stores and antiques stores believe these are mid-century items and do not realize their 1930’s deco pedigree. Plus the fact that it is aluminum, a big selling point 80 years ago, is seen a cheap alternative to the chrome and copper of Chase and Revere. Here are some close up details of a few of the pieces in my collection –
Other Kensington items from my collection, all bought for less than $15.00 – –
So the next time you are at a flea market looking for a genuine deco piece, don’t pass up these shiny and very affordable items.
Anthony & Chris
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