OvenServe by Homer Laughlin
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In the early 1930s, most pottery companies stared to produced kitchenware. A brief list of potteries with their special lines include: Paden City - Bak Serve, Harker - Bakerite, Cronin - Bake Oven, and Crooksville - Pantry Ware. In 1933, Homer Laughlin introduced an extensive assortment of embossed kitchenware called, "OvenServe." This line included various sizes of bowls, bakers, platters, as well as some dinnerware pieces; plates, teacups, and saucers.

On January 23, 1933, Frederick Rhead wrote in his journals about a "cooking and kitchenware program." After collecting samples of kitchenware from other companies, Rhead began making sketches of various items. By February 6th, he wrote that the drawings were "made into a folio and turned over to J.M. Wells." However. for the rest of the month the Art Department worked on the Chelsea shape for Quaker Oats and adding new items to the recently released and very successful Virginia Rose.

Rhead notes making a couple "thermo" custard cups in brown, pink, and white glazes on the last week of March. These first oven ware pieces were probably plain shapes. The first time Rhead notes any type of embossed work was on March 30, 1933. The next day representatives from Woolworth's visited HLC to veiw the various samples. After reviewing the custards, a line of kitchenware with the following items was suggested:

  • small custards
  • individual casserole
  • bakers
  • pie plates
  • large casserole
  • bowls for sauce
  • jug
  • salt and pepper
  • mixing or measuring bowl
  • 8", 7", 6" and 4" plates
  • teacup
  • St. Dennis cup and saucer
  • bowl for soup
  • 4" and 5" soup
  • 36s oatmeal
  • nappy
  • sugar/creamer
  • restaurant individual creamer
  • baked apple
  • ashtray

The twenty items listed above are as Rhead wrote them. Remember he used trade sizes so the 8", 7", 6", and 4" plates would have actual measurements close to: 10:, 9", 8", and 6".

Several trials of clays with various decorations were made to see which could withstand oven temperatures. On April 4, 1933, Rhead noted the new oven ware glaze samples were not good. More patterns specifications, and trials were conducted for the next two weeks and on the 17th, J.M. Wells approved the first nine items for the March 31st listing. It was during this time that Kaufman's became interested in the new oven ware.

More buyers expressed interest in the oven-to-table line, but only a few pieces had been modeled at the time and nothing had been released into production. It became apparent to many at HLC that their new oven ware was going ot be a success even though it wasn't anywhere near completion. On April 25, 1933, J. M. Wells advised Rhead that the Art Department was to "concentrate on oven ware." From May to August 1933, the new oven proof line was developed.

The first items created were made in two styles; plain and with the familiar floral embossing. Some of the items form the March 31st list were dropped and new pieces such as the French casseroles and shirred egg dishes were added. On June 9, 1933, Rhead noted producing several trial glazes for the cooking ware:

  • Pink - 1383
  • Light Blue - 841
  • Fawn - 1432
  • Golden Green - 1427
  • Orange - 1428
  • Turquoise Green - 1425
  • Deep Ivory - 1434
  • Melon Yellow - 1436
  • Vellum Yelow - 1432

Eventually, OvenServe was made primarily in Orange (a.k.a. pumpkin), Melon Yellow, and Ivory. The ivory glaze developed for this shape would go on to be used with Kitchen Kraft, Virginia Rose, Marigold, and others. At some point, it was decided that the Art Glazes would be used. Casseroles and under plates have been found in leaf green (right), rose, and rust with the Wells Art Glazes backstamp. Small OvenServe pieces in other solid colors were made by both HLC and Taylor, Smith & Taylor (TS&T) for Quaker Oats.

On June 9, 1933, names were being considered for the oven ware. One option was, "OvenDrive," but "OvenServe" with its one-word spelling was selected. Two days later backstamps and labels were made with the new OvenServe logo. By the end of the month, dozens of decorations were tested on OvenServe. On July 7th, Polychrome, the hand-painted treatment consisting of yellow, blue, green, and pink, was being used and variations would be considered in weeks ahead.

With the majority of OvenServe modeled and in production, the Art Department started to develop other wares, namely Craftsman/Georgian. More pieces would be revised and added to OvenServe in the next year including pie plates, casseroles, and jugs. In August 1934, three new items were modeled the (long) spoon, pie server (listed as a "cake knife" in the modeling log) and a 40-oz. teapot. In April 1935, an open sugar and creamer were made. The sugar lid was modeled in January 1936 and released in February. It was also during this time that two more teapots were modeled. Both had capacities of 16-oz, but they were listed as "low" and "tall" teapots.

Unamrked OvenServe Teapot with
an unusual green glaze

Teapot with recessed lid
Courtesy Terri Puleo

The last piece of OvenServe modeled was the salad fork in June 1937. This was done during the development of the plain kitchenware line, Kitchen Kraft. The spoon was redesigned and made shorter. The new spoon, fork and pie lifter were used with both OvenServe and Kitchen Kraft.

The treatments on OvenServe vary just as they do on dinnerware lines. Solid colors, decals, edge trim, platinum stamps, and hand-painted work have all been found on OvenServe pieces. The more exotic items such as batter jugs, measuring cups, long spoon, sugar, and creamer are generally found with very simple treatments such as hand-painted embossing. Several retailers carried OvenServe with green hand-painted embossing including Woolworth's. This is one of the most common OvenServe treatments. Decals and platinum stamps are generally found on more common pieces such as pie plates and casseroles.

Almost every piece of OvenServe is marked with a backstamp. The only exceptions are the four utensils which will have no markings. Collectible versions of the small spoon, fork, and pie lifter were recently produced by China Specialties in various solid colors. Such pieces will have an embossed "C.S." on the reverse of the handles.

OvenServe was mass produced from 1933 until the late 1930s when it was overshadowed by the plain shapes of Kitchen Kraft. By this time, many of the OvenServe items had been discontinued and are very hard to find today. These key pieces are the measuring cup, long handled spoon, batter jug, sugar, and the creamer. The most common pieces are five items produced for Quaker Oats. The small baker, custard, ramekin, and small French casserole were produced by HLC and TS&T in various solid colors until the mid-1950s

See also sections on Kitchen Kraft and Georgian OvenServe.

1934 Advertisement

1935 Advertisement

Original OvenServe sticker

Pattern OS-66 (same as VR-235)

Pattern OS-94, Rose and Poppy

Pattern OS-101 (same as VR-353 and 383)

Pattern OS-90 (same as W-5923)

Pattern OS-139

Pattern OS-54

Pattern OS-62

Green hand-painted embossing

Pattern OS-71, Silver stars and red trim

Three sizes of OvenServe bakers

9-inch plate, Pattern OS-86 (same as VR-128)

Pie plate, Pattern OS-96, Windblown Poppy

10" plates in yellow and silver stamp border with red trim.

9-inch plate, Red Poppies

9-inch plate, Pattern OS-95 (same as VR-351)

Casserole with black trim, pattern OS-52

6" pudding dish and a baked apple in yellow

Custards with decals and platinum/red trim

French Casseroles, green embossing, rust glaze, and pattern OS-81 (far right)

8 ¾" mixing bowl with decal and orange trim

Polychrome 9" plate and a batter jug in ivory

plate with green embossing

Pie lifter and short spoon in yellow, fork and long spoon in turquoise, a non-standard glaze.

7 ¾" OvenServe mixing bowls - with decals and in the orange glaze

9 ¾" OvenServe mixing bowl with deco leaf decal and red trim

9 ¾" OvenServe mixing bowl with columbines, pattern OS-65 (same as VR-232)

12" OvenServe mixing bowl with hand-painted, polychrome embossing.

OvenServe 9" plates

Shirred egg and cereal bowl

l-r: OS-81, green embossing and Lecot bean pots

Deco Leaf cake lifter and spoon

Cups and saucers in orange

Ramekin and French casserole in orange

9" platter in melon yellow

Shirred egg, ramekin and custard

OvenServe creamer and open sugar

Carnival (left) and OvenServe (right) teacups

Six-inch casserole with foil label and custard

Polychrome measuring cup

Small casserole and custard in yellow

Small casserole and custard in Kraft Blue colored clay

OvenServe in the speckled (a.k.a. "Black Pepper") glaze from 1955. Most pieces from this line are not marked.

Kitchen Kraft stickers on the small OvenServe Whitestone casseroles

Marking on the medium size oval baker, but with no date code.

OvenServe casserole in the 1960s/1970s gold speck glaze.

Assortment of Items:
  • 10" plate
  • 9" plate
  • 7" plate
  • 6" plate
  • Teacup
  • Saucer
  • Shirred Egg, small
  • Shirred Egg, large
  • Creamer
  • Open sugar
  • Covered sugar
  • French casserole, small
  • French casserole, large
  • 9" pie plate
  • 10" pie plate
  • 6" bowl
  • 8" bowl
  • 12 1/2" mixing bowl
  • 11 1/8" mixing bowl
  • 9 3/4" mixing bowl
  • 8 3/4" mixing bowl
  • 7 3/4" mixing bowl
  • 5" individual pie plate
  • Custard
  • Ramekin
  • Small oval baker
  • Medium oval baker
  • Large oval baker
  • Batter jug
  • Measuring cup
  • Individual bean pot
  • 4" covered bean pot (4" leftover)
  • 5" covered bean pot (5" leftover)
  • Baked apple
  • 13" platter
  • 11" platter
  • 9" platter
  • 6" covered casserole
  • 9" covered casserole
  • 10" covered casserole
  • Pie lifter
  • Fork
  • Small spoon
  • Large spoon

In 1934, the Royal Metal Company of Chicago, Illinois approached the Homer Laughlin China Company about producing ware to be sold in metal frames. On October 22 of the same year, the Art Department began work on creating special items based on the new OvenServe heat resistant body. By December 1st, all the new pieces were modeled and released into production. They are listed in designer Frederick Rhead's journals as:

  • Pie Plate
  • Cake Plate
  • Casserole
  • Deep Platter
  • Mixing Bowl Casserole
  • Relish Dish

It should be noted that the six items listed above are not the only pieces made for Royal Metal. They also used some embossed OvenServe casseroles and bakers with various decals for metals frames. Such pieces will have the standard OvenServe mark and the special Royal OvenServe platinum stamp. A Fiesta cake plate and mustard were developed specifically for Royal Metal. The mustard, sold through Royal Metal with the shakers as a special condiment set, became a standard Fiesta item, but the cake plate did not. A promotional casserole and pie plate set was made for Royal Metal in 1937. They have been found in red, light green, cobalt, and Harlequin yellow and blue. Special platters were also made in assorted solid color glazes of the late 1930s. See also section on Serenade for a special casserole made for Royal Metal in pastel glazes.

Royal OvenServe casserole, straight-sided

Royal OvenServe casserole, mixing bowl type

Decaled Royal OvenServe relish

Plain ivory Royal OvenServe relish

Royal OvenServe cake plate

Royal OvenServe cake plate, reverse

"Red Clover" Royal OvenServe deep platter

Decaled Royal OvenServe pie plate

Royal OvenServe pie plate in Harlequin blue

Advertisements from the late 1930s for Fiesta and palin pieces in solid colored galzes for Royal Metal

Handy Andy

The Handy Andy casserole comes in three parts; a ceramic bowl made by Homer Laughlin, a metal lid, and a metal base - both of which were made by an outside company (possibly Royal Metal.) The bowl was made in June of 1936 and would have to be adjusted for a better fit to the base. A new backstamp was made with "HANDY ANDY" added to the regular OvenServe backstamp. On the 24th of June, the bowl was approved and put into production.

About a dozen or so decals and special trim decorations have been found on Handy Andy bowls. Many times the bowl is found alone without the metal lid and base. Almost every example will be marked with the special Handy Andy backstamp. The bowl has an opening diameter of 8" and it stands 3" tall.

Handy Andy casserole, complete

Handy Andy casserole bowl

Daisy Chain

There are only two pieces made with Daisy Chain embossing - the pie plate and the covered casserole. Many popular decals such as Deco Leaf, Mexicana, and others have been found on both pieces. According to Homer Laughlin's modeling log, they were crafted in May and June of 1935 with the notation they were to be made with metal frames. Both were produced until the very early 1940s and were marked with the standard OvenServe backstamp. Once in a while a Daisy Chain casserole lid can be found on a Handy Andy base.

Daisy Chain pie plate, pattern DC-704

Daisy Chain embossing detail and mark

"Deco Leaf" Daisy Chain casserole

Daisy Chain OvenServe casserole and pie plate with treatment number DC-716. This decal originated on the Georgian shape as G-12 in 1933. It was also used on Virginia Rose as VR-246, Coronet as CO-544, embossed OvenServe as OS-127, and Eggshell Nautilus as N-1490. The decal was retired in 1941.

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