Did you know Poland Springs water dates from the 1700s? An exceptionally legible, highly detailed top logo graces the rim of this earlier 1900s bright white china plate from Poland Springs, in Maine. Almost certainly this was used at the Poland Spring House Resort, which was at one time owned by the Maine Central Railroad.
All decoration is in dark green. It was made before 1955 by the McNicol Company and sold through distributor Morris Gordon and Son, Inc., of Boston, MA. This is good, heavy commercial restaurant ware weight china, in extremely nice with only light surface marks and only a very few spots that suggest any kind of age darkening. Absolutely NO cracks, chips, flakes, crazing or repairs. SIZE is 8-1/2 inches across.
DATE: The McNicol marking is not much help because it resembles none of the marks shown in Conroy's "Restaurant China Vol. 2." We do know that Morris Gordon & Son went out of business in 1955, so it it definitely older than that. We think it dates from the 1920s-1930s when good china would have been used for serving guests, before the facility began to suffer from the Great Depression.
The top logo, a very attractive display, identifies the Poland Spring name and coat of arms, above the Latin "Sapientia Donumdei" ("Wisdom is Given by God"). This plate would be a terrific addition to any restaurantware or commercial establishment dinnerware collection.
FURTHER BACKGROUND: We are not sure how this china was used -- almost certainly at the Poland Spring House in Maine. History about the facility is sketchy. The earliest discovery of the water's curative powers was by a farmer named Ricker, who grew a one-bucket business into a serious commercial venture, including an inn called the Mansion House, which he built in the late 1700s. Ricker's son continued the business, bottling and selling water and managing the inn. In 1870, his grandson took over the rapidly expanding venture, and built the Poland Spring House on the property near the inn, shepherding it into a massive resort capable of accommodating over 400 guests. Totally self contained in the wilds of Maine, it employed some 300 people.
During the 1800s, the Hiram Ricker & Sons Company purchased several other successful hotels included the Samoset and the Mt. Kineo House. They wisely began to heavily utilize the railroad as the primary means of bringing in guests, an opportunity realized by the Maine Central Railroad, which arranged a deal to purchase the facility from the Rickers who would remain operating and managing the resort. By the early 1900s, the MCRR had purchased all of the Ricker owned hotels, always retaining the Ricker family to operate and manage them.
Other railroads served the vicinity of Poland Spring, including the Grand Trunk, the Canadian National and the Rumford Falls Railroad. According to National Park Service information, it's possible that Poland Springs may have built its own very short-line railway, but we could find no further information about this.
The hotel continued many successful years up to and including the Roaring Twenties. However by the 1930’s and with the effects of the Great Depression, the hotel suffered very hard time and the Rickers were eventually no longer charged with the responsibility of running the hotels.
The resort remained wildly popular through the 1800s and into the first half of the twentieth century but began to lose favor following World War II. Sadly, the original Ricker family lost control of the property in the Depression during the 1930s, and Poland Springs resort went downhill from there. After numerous changes of ownership including sale by the Maine Central, the destruction by fire of both the Mansion House and the Poland Spring House, the enterprise is owned today by Nestle Waters North America, which sells its bottled water in a multitude of supermarkets and other outlets.