THREE AVAILABLE: This stunning large dinner plate with an impressive NYC monogram is from the New York Central Railroad. The pattern name is "Mohawk," which dates from the 1930s-1940s. This dinnerware was used exclusively aboard the dining cars of the popular "Empire State Express" name train.
SIZE: Just over 10 inches across.
Mohawk dinnerware was produced in the Econo-Rim shape debuted by Syracuse China in 1935. Importantly, ONLY the large dinner plates were made in the black/pink motif. Smaller companion pieces were never made. And our plates all carry the correct bottom marking, which never included any railway reference.
Crisp, sharply-defined jet black rim decoration dramatically contrasts with the salmon pink underneath, a great deco look utilized by the railroad during a time period when Americans were embracing Art Deco styles inspired worldwide by the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs held in Paris in 1925 as a showcase for new inspiration.
CONDITION: Extremely nice with strong colors. There are light surface marks from use, and some glaze flaws on the eating surface, but there are NO cracks, chips, flakes or repairs. There are no glaze runs, but there can be light imperfections in the black monogram and/or rim bands.
BACKGROUND: The Empire State Express was one of the named passenger trains and a onetime flagship of the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad (a predecessor of the New York Central Railroad that came into existence in 1914 following the discontinuance of the NYC&HRRR). On September 14, 1891, headed by Locomotive 999*, it set a speed record, covering the 436 miles between New York City and Buffalo, New York in 7 hours and 6 minutes (including stops), averaging 61.4 miles-per-hour, with a top speed of 82 mph. After the reincarnation into the New York Central railroad, the Empire State Express service continued. It was the first passenger train with a schedule speed of over 52 mph and the first to make runs of 142.88 miles between between New York City and Albany, New York, the longest scheduled nonstop run until then.
On December 7, 1941 -- the day Pearl Harbor was bombed -- the New York Central inaugurated a new stainless-steel streamlined (Budd) train, powered by a streamlined J-3a Hudson steam locomotive. Like many long-haul passenger trains through the mid-1960s, Empire State Express trains carried Railway Post Office (R.P.O.) cars staffed by post office clerks. The R.P.O. cars were operated by the Railway Mail Service branch of the United States Post Office Department. When Amtrak took over the nation's passenger service on May 1, 1971 it consolidated trains on the New York—Albany—Buffalo corridor into the "Empire Service" in tribute. Amtrak revived the name, although not the route to match, on January 6, 1974 when it gave names to Empire Service trains.
*The key to the initial fame of the Empire State Express was the 999: a 37-foot-long, American-type 4-4-0 steam locomotive, it was built by hand in West Albany, New York specifically to haul the train. After setting speed records, the sleek 999 became a public darling, well known throughout the country. It sported 86-inch diameter driving wheels, and was the first of its kind to have brakes on the front truck. The bands, pipes, and trim were polished; the boiler, smokestack, domes, cab, and tender were given a black satin finish, and "Empire State Express" was applied to the sides of the tender in beautiful, high-gold leaf lettering.
After touring the nation and making appearances at numerous expositions including the Chicago Railroad Fair, the 999 was retired from service in May, 1952, at which time it was relegated to switching service in western New York shuttling express service milk cars. Finally, in 1962, the New York Central donated the locomotive to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, where it has been preserved and placed on display.