This rare china platter is from the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway, which existed between 1896 and 1918.
It is dated 1909, and likely would have been used aboard the GR&I's all-Pullman train named the "Northern Limited," which operated with dining cars between Grand Rapids and Mackinac Island in Michigan. With the railroad having been built initially for hauling lumber south from Great Lakes region forests and only turning to passenger service in the 1880s with just a few restaurant cars, GR&I dining car memorabilia is extremely scarce.
The pattern name is Fishing Line-Blue, which is given a 4 out of 5 rating by both railroad china "bible" authors McIntyre and Luckin. It was made by Bauscher Brothers of Weiden, Germany, for marketing through their New York City office. In addition to the stamped mark, there is an impressed oval mark.
SIZE is 12.75 inches long and 8 inches wide. The top rim edge is over 1 inch tall.
CONDITION: It displays beautifully, in extremely good for such an old piece, with NO cracks or repairs and colorful decoration. There are light surface marks from utensils that are nearly impossible to see unless you tilt it in bright light. There are some pale, age darkening spots around the rim edge that are hard to see. On the underside, there is a no-show chip on the bottom rim and a chip on one end of the support in the center. Neither shows at all for display.
Our major concern is that while the blue color is strong and colorful, the logo transfer shows some rubbing from surface wear. Please see our close-up pictures.
BACKGROUND - Originally formed in early January, 1854, the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad at its height provided passenger and freight railroad services between Cincinnati, Ohio and the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan, USA. Following a reorganization, it emerged as the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway in 1896. The GR&I was initially built to haul timber south from the northern forests, but began to turn to the passenger and tourist business in the 1880s, when it first began to call itself The Fishing Line. In 1886 the Grand Rapids & Indiana joined with the Michigan Central Railroad, which had built its own line into Mackinaw City in 1881 and the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company to form the Mackinac Island Hotel Company. This new company built the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, which opened in 1887 and was a huge factor increasing the GR&I's passenger business. By 1907, the GR&I was operating four passenger trains daily north to and from Mackinaw City, but the fares were insufficient to support the operation and ridership declined. The Grand Rapids & Indiana was bought by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1918.