Here is a hard to find, extremely nice pedestal-style dessert dish from the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. It would have been used in an onboard dining car to serve sherbet, pudding or another creamy dessert.
CONDITION is near mint with no damage. There are no cracks, chips, flakes or repairs. There is no age darkening spotting. If there are any surface marks they are extremely difficult to find. This would be a fantastic addition to any good railway dining item collection, especially for someone with a focus on the American West.
The pattern is "Prospector," named to honor the rugged men who searched for gold in the mountains where the railway ran. The strong blue "speed lettering" side logo with a streamlined appearance contrasts beautifully with the ivory base ware. An interesting side note is that the design came from an employee contest held in 1939. The winner was M. Laura Bramkamp, who worked in the D&RGW's purchasing department.
Despite no underside markings (common on this style of base) we can guarantee this is authentic: The D&RGW owned all rights to this individual design, and ONLY Syracuse China made it for them. Only the blue Rio Grande appears on any of the pieces. Prospector pieces were never made with any railway markings on the underside.
BACKGROUND: According to "The Official Guide to Railroad Dining Car China" (McIntyre) Prospector chinaware was ordered for use on the D&RGW's two-car train named Prospector, which operated from late 1941 until May 1942. The china was not ordered again until 1945, after the war had ended, and was then used until Amtrak took over the D&RG's passenger service. According to author McIntyre, the gravy boat is among several scarce pieces that are harder to find.The D&RGW first ordered Prospector chinaware in 1941 for use on their two-car "Prospector" name train that operated between Denver, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah, and a second train placed in service in 1950. "Prospector" china was additionally used on the Rio Grande Zephyr train until the 1970s.
COLLECTOR NOTE: ONLY 9-inch dinner plates were decorated with a silhouette of a gold miner prospector with his burro. These are exceptionally rare, ordered only once in 1941 for the two-table, food service rear car. These plates have been reproduced but reproductions are well marked.