January 28, 2010
Vintage Melamine or Melmac
Before i really started selling vintage items and doing lot of research i used to call melamine dishes, 'those lovely hard plastic dishes from the 50's'.
Then when i found some for my own kitchen and started looking around to find out what the marks on the bottom of my pieces meant, i came across the names 'Melmac' and 'Melamine' a lot. I thought it to be weird for something to have two names.
After research a bit more i quickly discovered Melmac is just one of the brands, maybe the most well known, of Melamine resin dishes. I also noticed that a lot of online melamine shop listings are being described as Melmac, when in fact they are not.
In my treasure hunts so far i came across Melmac, Mar-Crest Melmac, Boontonware, Oneida, Spaulding Ware, Prolon, OD ware, and some mysterious unmarked pieces. All Melamine, not all Melmac.
Melamine was first introduced in the 1940s, a material with a glossy finish and in a wide range of stunning colors.
During the late 1950s and 1960s melamine tableware became highly fashionable for its affordability, durability and style.
Melamine dishes are easy to use and easy to clean with no worries about breakage.
Even though its basically unbreakable and resistant to odor absorption, it is prone to scratches (that's one of the reasons melamine went out of style during the 70's).
A lot of old pieces have some usage wear to them. Even greater the joy when you find pieces that are in great condition! I have heard about fixing scratches with Plastic Polish, all though i haven't tried that myself (yet).
Final note, love your vintage melamine and care for it, don't put it in the microwave or dishwasher. There are people who do, and if it works, good for you, but i wouldn't risk or recommend it.
Melamine dishes are perfect to bring along on a picnic and very convenient for families with young children. And for us, of whatever age, with a definite love for pretty vintage housewares. A set of Melamine in your kitchen really brings out that retro feel!
(ps click the images to go to the shop listings if you want flaunt some melamine dishes in your own kitchen)