How to Thrift Shop for Classic American Modern Dinnerware


Shopping thrift shops, flea markets and property gross sales will be overwhelming. With the sheer quantity of stuff, how are you aware the place to begin? How do you notice gems amid all of the junk?

As an expert reseller who has been combing via thrift shops for the higher a part of 30 years, I may help. If you’re prepared to chop your procuring time in half, rating larger bargains or stroll away with brag-worthy finds you’ll be able to flip for money, learn on.

From hard-to-find home items to resale money-makers, every part featured in my “Thrift Shop Like a Pro” collection qualifies as a BOLO (“be looking out” for) merchandise. When you discover it, purchase it!

Featured discover: American Modern dinnerware by Russel Wright

Born in 1904, Russel Wright was an industrial designer and the artistic drive behind profitable strains of furnishings, dinnerware, flatware, and different family merchandise.

His work was a part of Good Design, a creative motion targeted on making well-designed items extra obtainable to on a regular basis customers.

In 1939, Steubenville Pottery of Ohio started manufacturing a Wright-designed dinnerware assortment. Dubbed “American Modern,” the cheap earthenware items have been revolutionary for his or her time. Consumers cherished the road’s sculptural varieties, good design and distinctive mixture of accent supplies like bamboo and rattan.

Originally, the road was supplied in six mix-and-match colours that included:

  • Chartreuse
  • Seafoam inexperienced (additionally known as “Seafoam blue”)
  • Bean brown
  • Coral
  • Grey
  • White

More colour choices have been added later. These included:

  • Black chutney
  • Cedar inexperienced
  • Glacier blue
  • Cantaloupe

After a 20-year run, manufacturing led to 1959, and Steubenville Pottery closed that very same 12 months.

With roughly 250 million items produced, American Modern is broadly thought-about to be the most well-liked dinnerware ever offered.

Pieces will be present in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art and, with a bit of luck, your native thrift store.

Underawesternsky /

Why purchase it?

Wright’s American Modern dinnerware is as widespread as we speak because it was a long time in the past. With its natural shapes and complicated colour palette, the gathering nonetheless feels fashionable — cutting-edge, even.

Though it might take years to amass a whole set via thrift procuring alone, I decide up miscellaneous items every time I can. Mixed with my on a regular basis white china, they add a burst of colour and elegance.

If you’re extra focused on reselling thrift retailer finds for revenue, take observe: American Modern dishes are a scorching midcentury collectible.

This lidded butter dish in chartreuse not too long ago offered for $175 on eBay, and this rattan-handled relish dish in seafoam inexperienced offered for $188. On Etsy, this seafoam inexperienced water carafe is listed for $250.

Pro tip: American Modern dinnerware ought to be washed by hand. High warmth and heavy detergents from dishwashers can harm the end and make classic items extra susceptible to chipping.

What to search for

Wright’s dinnerware stands out on thrift retailer cabinets. The biomorphic shapes and sudden colours by no means fail to seize my consideration.

Pieces will be additional recognized by an impressed maker’s mark on the underside. Look for “Russel Wright” in italicized script adopted by “MFG. BY STEUBENVILLE.”

Shopping for items to resell? Maximize your earnings by paying particular consideration to:

  • Color: Chartreuse appears to be the most well-liked colour within the resale market, adopted by seafoam inexperienced and white.
  • Form: As with most classic dinnerware, serving items are the toughest to seek out and essentially the most priceless. Look for water carafes, relish dishes, teapots and sugar bowls.
  • Condition: American Modern items chip simply, so classic examples in pristine situation have gotten rarer. Sugar bowls and teapots with intact, chip-free lids are significantly exhausting to seek out and promote for a premium.

Reissue alert: American Modern dinnerware has been reissued by Bauer Pottery of Southern California. The up to date assortment retains the unique Russel Wright brand on the underside. You can inform these items aside from classic American Modern items by searching for the phrases “By Bauer Pottery California, USA” after the emblem.

Disclosure: The info you learn right here is all the time goal. However, we typically obtain compensation whenever you click on hyperlinks inside our tales.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here