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St. Louis San Francisco RR "Thistle" Pattern China Toast / Hot Food Cover
Here is a very hard to find piece of rail passenger dining car china: a toast or hot food cover in the intricate "Thistle" pattern, from the St. Louis San Francisco Railroad (also known as the "Frisco Lines.") At approximately 6-1/4 inches across, it primarily would have been used atop an 8-inch salad or cake plate (see last paragraph, below).
Although it carries no RR markings, "Thistle" is documented in "Official Guide to Railroad Dining Car China" (McIntyre) as fully verified railroad china. McIntyre states that "Thistle" china is cited in Frisco company records, proving it indeed was ordered and used by the railroads. McIntyre further suggests that "Thistle," which was made by the Syracuse China Company, may even have been an "exclusive pattern," meaning that the Frisco Lines had purchased ownership rights to the design, and Syracuse would sell it to the railroad and no one else.
Author Richard Luckin in "Dining on Rails" states that 37 different pieces were used on Frisco trains, and that the Fred Harvey Cafe Car Department of Springfield, Missouri, ordered the ware. Luckin also confirms that "Thistle" pieces were never railroad marked.
CONDITION: Not quite "Near Mint." Absolutely NO cracks, chips, flakes, spider cracks, crazing or repairs. Just the slightest wear on the bottom rim where it would rub on an underplate.
USE: In the glory days when fine dining was enjoyed by railroad passengers, the unique design of these toast covers fit right into luxurious service. The hole in the top allowed the chef in the kitchen to lift the china with a finger and put it in place on the plate. Steam would escape through the hole as the waiter carried it to the passenger's table, so that the food would arrive fresh and warm with no sign of sogginess. Upon reaching the diner, the waiter would swoop the cover away with his finger.
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