This after-dinner cup and saucer set is from the New York Central Railroad. The pattern is "DeWitt Clinton," identifiable by the tiny cameo of a locomotive that pays homage to an 1831 engine with that name, surrounded by a wide, intricate band of gray and blue.
The cup is a tiny 2-1/2 inches tall. The saucer is 4-1/2 inches across, standard for demitasse pieces.
Condition is lovely with NO cracks, chips, flakes or repairs. The colors are bright and the decoration is crisp and sharp, matching wonderfully on both pieces. There are only very light, hard to see signs of use, most being around the edges of the cup well in the saucer. There are some extremely light, hard to see signs of age darkening on the outermost rims.
This set was made by Syracuse China, with a correct manufacturer mark on the saucer, which is date coded P-1, for January 1935. The small numbers almost certainly are plant production codes. The cup has no manufacturer mark but is clearly Syracuse-made because of the identical appearance of the tiny numbers. (The ONLY other maker was Buffalo China.)
"Dewitt Clinton" dinnerware frequently carries a New York Central Railroad bottom marking as well, but the little cameo is a guarantee of authenticity, because the pattern itself was made exclusively for the New York Central. According to "The Official Guide to Railroad Dining Car China" (McIntyre), DeWitt Clinton ware was used from 1925 until the early 1950s.
The Mohawk & Hudson Railroad, earliest ancestor of the New York Central, played a extremely important role in American transportation history. Its locomotive "DeWitt Clinton" was put in service in 1831, the first steam locomotive to operate in the state of New York and the fourth built for service in the United States. It was named in honor of DeWitt Clinton, the New York state governor responsible for the Erie Canal, who died in 1828.
COLLECTOR NOTE: "DeWitt Clinton" ware was reproduced in 1981 by the Mohawk & Hudson Railroad Historical Society. If the tiny number beneath the locomotive is 1831-1981, the piece is a reproduction!