This tab-handled, shallow oval bowl is from either the Santa Fe Railroad or its closely connected Fred Harvey eating house, hotel and onboard catering operation. The shape is called a "Baked Apple dish." The pattern is "California Poppy," depicting the charming, sunny yellow blooms that railway passengers and Harvey hotel or restaurant guests would be likely to see in the area.

CONDITION is lovely with no cracks, chips, flakes or repairs. The only cosmetic note is there is a pale discoloration on the side (SEE OUR LAST PICTURE). This dish is just under 6 inches long. It was made in March, 1954, according to the 3-II date code. It is correctly bottom marked Syracuse China.

"California Poppy" ware was a pattern made for both the Santa Fe and Fred Harvey by Syracuse China. Some Poppy pieces carry a Santa Fe bottom marking, identifying them as indeed having been used by the railroad company. These are more highly sought after by collectors. The majority of the dinnerware, however, was manufactured without any railroad markings; almost certainly some went to the Santa Fe, but most of it was made for Fred Harvey's enterprise.

COLLECTOR NOTE: California Poppy china was copyrighted and manufactured exclusively for for the Santa Fe and Fred Harvey, but ONLY in heavyweight, commercial dinnerware. "Thinware" -- household weight dinnerware, made in the same floral decoration but with a much lighter weight base ware -- was NOT included in Syracuse China's contract with the railroad. Syracuse made and sold this lighter weight dinnerware to any customer, and much was sold through retail store outlets. If you love the pattern, "thinware" is terrific for daily use, but it was NEVER ordered or used by the railroad and does not belong in a true railroad collection.

BACKGROUND: During the 1880s and 1890s, an enterprising man named Fred Harvey opened and operated eating houses along the route of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad in the southwest United States. As railroading expanded during the latter part of the 19th century and into the 20th, the role played by Harvey’s operations earned him a niche in history as an important contributor to American railway passenger travel.

As head of the Fred Harvey Company, his goal was to build the finest eating establishments in the industry by serving rail passengers the best possible food in the best conditions. As rail travel grew, he expanded into catering over-the-rails dining car operations aboard the Santa Fe, and then further expanded into building hotels called Harvey Houses at strategic locations along the AT&SF route. At its heyday, there were 84 Harvey Houses, all of which attracted wealthy and middle-class visitors alike, firmly establishing the company. The business continued to be operated by Harvey's sons and grandsons until 1968, when it was sold to a Hawaiian-based company.

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Time's Treasures Railroad & Country

Santa Fe - Fred Harvey Railroad China California Poppy Pattern Baked Apple Dish

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