Property of the City of New York

14 Dec

Every once in a while, we come across a really unique, funky vintage item that just screams “awesome!”

On our last treasure hunting adventure, we stumbled upon this set of coffee mugs, which, at first glance, look pretty darn plain. But you can’t judge a book by its cover! One peek at the backstamp and we were sold – “Property of the City of New York”.

And so the research began…

The Wellsville China company, located in Wellsville, Ohio, operated from 1902 to 1969. The company was founded upon the purchase of the former Pioneer Pottery, and in 1959, Wellsville became Sterling China, before closing altogether in 1969.

During operation, Wellsville China made its name known for the production of restaurant ware throughout the country. From local diners to national franchises like Denny’s, Wellsville produced sets and patterns for many exclusive eateries. Everything from typical restaurants to nightclubs, fraternities, municipalities, and even Disneyland!

This particular set of mugs is so unique because of the stamp indicating “Property of the City of New York.” I’ve spent hours on the hunt for information on this backstamp and the search for similar pieces, and I can comfortably say that this is indeed quite a rare find. I’ve seen only one other piece of Wellsville China with these markings online.

Unlike typical diner or hotel restaurant ware marked with just a name, these mugs are marked as “property of” – which means that these were technically owned by the municipality and used at some sort of city facility.

Although there is no clear or definite answer as to exactly where they were originally used, it is absolutely possible to believe they may have come from an NYC police station, fire department, administration building cafeteria, or City Hall. Perhaps a city hospital or penal institution? The “Tombs” or Riker’s Island? Maybe!

But regardless of exactly where they began life, these mugs are definitely an interesting piece of history, and certainly a conversation piece as well! Simple and modest in all-white design and style. Very thick and solid stoneware for heavy-duty, nicely insulating purposes.

Mugs are completely white all the way around, not marked with any sort of pattern. Perfect for a rare, unique piece of history in your vintage or minimalist style kitchen, or perhaps as a gift for the nostalgic New Yorker in your life!

See more unique treasures in our collection at One Rusty Nail!


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