This is an extraordinary china plate from the Monon Railroad, which was formally known as the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Railway. Any kind of relic from the Monon is difficult to find, and dining car items are extraordinarily scarce.
At just under 7.5 inches across, this was a very flexible size and would have been used to serve salad or cake, or perhaps toast or a muffin under a hot cover. It carries the Circle M logo beautifully centered on the top, encircled by a single red band.
CONDITION is superb, nearly mint, with hardly any signs of use. Please see our last picture -- you must tilt it in bright light to attempt to find any surface marks at all.
The bottom marking by its maker Shenango Company is correct, according to our Restaurant China Vol.2 (Conroy), which states that Q-12 is the date code for production between January and June of 1954; and that the green Indian stamp dates from the 1950s.
BACKGROUND from Wikipedia: The Monon Railroad (reporting mark MON) operated from 1897 to 1956, almost entirely within the state of Indiana, where it was vital transportation for freight and passengers. Its formal name was the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Railway (reporting mark CIL). The railroad got the name Monon from its main routes converging in Monon, Indiana. From Monon, the mainlines reached out to Chicago, Louisville, Indianapolis, and Michigan City, Indiana. In Chicago, the Monon's passenger trains served Dearborn Station. Branches connected the Louisville mainline to Victoria, Indiana and French Lick, Indiana. The Monon was merged into the Louisville & Nashville Railroad in 1971, and much of the former Monon right of way is owned today by CSX Transportation.
A unique note about the Monon was that it served fully six colleges and universities: Purdue University, Wabash College, DePauw University, Indiana University, Butler University and St. Joseph's College. The traffic they generated was important enough to the Monon that the railroad used the schools' colors on its rolling stock. The red-and-white scheme of Wabash College (and similar to the colors of Indiana University) was used on the railroad's passenger equipment, and the black-and-gold used by both DePauw University and Purdue University adorned the railroad's diesel freight locomotives and later replaced the red and white on passenger equipment as well.
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