Updated date:

Collecting Vintage Melmac & Melamine Dinnerware

I am a vintage junkie , author of Melmac Central and run the Living a Vintage Life podcast.

Melmac is Colorful!

Collecting melmac is a colorful hobby! These are Russel Wright's GATX line called Meldaur

Collecting melmac is a colorful hobby! These are Russel Wright's GATX line called Meldaur

Collecting Vintage Melmac

Collecting vintage melmac can be fun and inexpensive. Putting together a set piece by piece can be a challenge and viewed as a "treasure hunt." You will often find pieces in thrift stores, at yard or garage sales, flea markets, estate sales, and online outlets like Etsy and Ebay .

Start by accident with mix and match! I started out three decades ago putting together a bunch of thrift store found pieces to assemble a pink set. I soon found out that none of my pinks matched due to the fact there were so many molders, makers, and manufacturer lines and hues available! Once you get into collecting, it can be fun and exciting!

It was then after my first glimpse of Russel Wright's Home Decorators line that I was hooked.


Melmac Collecting Can Be Colorful and Fun!

These are old color samples of Melmac (Plaskon) which is a material used to mold the melmac.

These are old color samples of Melmac (Plaskon) which is a material used to mold the melmac.

Tips for Display and Decorating Tips

As you can see, Melmac can be a gorgeous collectible. These used to line the walls of my office and put me in in a hugely creative mood. Melmac dishes inspired my every move due to the bright colors and funky designs. I strongly recommend a glass faced cabinet, as these are a real pain to dust. Also be wary of the cabinetry you use, as most melmac can be extremely heavy, especially that of the 1940's to 50's which some lines were chunkier and had more melamine. Cheaply made particle board will eventually bend and break when overloaded with melmac!

Some collectors choose to display one place setting in a set, and pack up the rest. Make sure to keep your melmac out of direct sunlight. It can damage it or fade it.

Some of the best displays I have seen are that using an old china cabinet or hutch where the owners have painted them to look bright and funky colors. You could do this by going to a local thrift, Facebook Marketplace, or used second hand store and buying a used hutch with good windows or display area. Then use a one-coverage paint like chalk paint(for a matte look) or a high coverage gloss. You will find the strongest cabinets made of Oak and of the mid century modern to the 1980's era. Wood can be painted or shabbied up and will provide a sturdy display for your dinnerware.

My Russel Wright Melmac Shelves

My old display of Russel Wright Melmac Shelves

My old display of Russel Wright Melmac Shelves

Did You Know...........

Designers of Yester Year took Pride in Making their Melmac as shown in Russel Wright's Residential (Good Design Awards at MOMA)  Many people are unaware that so much work went into a Melmac dish, and that some lines were made by famous designers!

Designers of Yester Year took Pride in Making their Melmac as shown in Russel Wright's Residential (Good Design Awards at MOMA) Many people are unaware that so much work went into a Melmac dish, and that some lines were made by famous designers!

Vintage Melmac in the Home for Use or Display

Vintage melamine dinnerware makes a nice mid century modern display in your home or colorful addition to your china cabinet. Displaying colorful combinations can add stylish appeal to home decor.

For use, these should be used at a summertime cookout or special picnic but should not be microwaved, heavily gouged with steak knives, or washed in the dishwasher. Although much vintage melmac claimed it was dishwasher safe, to prolong the life of your dishes you should hand wash when possible. Avoid using for coffee or tea or this may stain the cups. Many people with kids love melmac dishes for snack time!.

Care and Cleaning Tips

Cleaning Melmac for use or display should be done with care.

Cleaning Melmac for use or display should be done with care.

What do you like?

IraMencyMelmac

IraMencyMelmac

New or Old? Do your Homework.

Do your research before buying melmac as some new melamine dinnerware will be made to look like the old. Most are marked made in China, and this is a clue it's newer and not vintage. Restaurants, commercial institutions are still using melamine dinnerware and trays in some cases. Most schools have discontinued use.

There are some great newer makers such as Zak Designs. Furthermore you may find that some long tenured American companies like Prolon, Carlisle, and even Halsey may still manufacturing melamine in the United States or abroad having been purchased or bought out. To my knowledge, Prolon is still designing for restaurants. Most are used for restaurants, school cafeterias, and the military. Some have plants as well in Mexico, or Puerto Rico.

Places Online to Buy Melmac

  • Etsy Melmac Search (all melmac offerings)
    Etsy averages 900-1000 melmac items at any given time. Use this link for a quick search.
  • Vintage Melmac on Ebay
    This search eliminates "new" melamine nd only searches for vintage melmac on Ebay, though you may want to try other searches as well such as melmac idnnerware, melmac dishes, etc.

Melmac, What's it Worth?

Finding pieces at first can be inexpensive. Expect to pay higher prices for full sets, sets that are unused, designer signed pieces, or hard to find pieces. Start small and simple and assemble what you can for less, then pay more only for pieces to complete your set.


Melmac Informational Sites

In Summary

Melmac collecting can be fun and inexpensive. Flea markets, thrift shops, estate sales, Etsy and Ebay can help you build sets of your favorite kind.Sometimes finding completer pieces will be hard -- I view it like a treasure hunt--it may be difficult to complete a set, but in the process you may accumulate extras you don't need. Sell the extras to pay for those hard to find pieces!

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2010 Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer

Leave me a Message or Comments!

jane silverman on March 24, 2019:

i reallylove melmac and read your blog melmac central thank you for all the great information

Joan on November 26, 2014:

I enjoyed this lens and wanted to k is if http://melmaccental.com yours? I collect texasware !

anonymous on July 07, 2013:

Howdy! Just purchased a set of four beautiful red, yellow, and teal blue confetti melamine "school lunch" trays today at a flea market; the manufacturer is "King-Line". Can you tell me if this is vintage or a more modern product? They are super fun so regardless I adore them, but would like to learn what I can. Thanks for your insights! :)

anonymous on January 01, 2013:

Hi, I have a Brookpark 1520 turkey platter with the Kellogg's Corn Flakes Sunshine Taste on the outer rim and Cornelius in the center. Could you tell me some information about it especially what it is worth? I love it and am not interested in selling it. Thanks so much. I have some platters and other misc. items that I have collected over the years. Thea

anonymous on November 28, 2012:

good job

TTMall on March 19, 2012:

Thank you for such an informative lens.

TTMall on March 19, 2012:

Thank you for such an informative lens.

anonymous on March 05, 2012:

Hey, are you related to this site http://retrochalet.blogspot.com ?

anonymous on February 29, 2012:

I don't have any melmac dishes, but I do like them. This is a colorful display of them.

rayray131 on February 19, 2012:

Very nice lens.

anonymous on December 25, 2011:

Love this lens! Do you also do the http://iramencydesigns.blogspot.com site? If so I got some great graphics off there and wanted to say thanks.

anonymous on December 17, 2011:

Great lens and I'm trying to remember how much of the melamine you show we had when I was a kid. I definitely remember some of it.

anonymous on August 16, 2011:

Wow! I remember melamine, so well, but never was a big fan, I do think this is a great Lens though!

Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer (author) from Hedgesville, WV on May 30, 2011:

@anonymous: Glad it worked! A bit time consuming but , what can you do?

Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer (author) from Hedgesville, WV on May 30, 2011:

@anonymous: LOVE THE MELMAC!

Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer (author) from Hedgesville, WV on May 30, 2011:

@Retro Loco: awesome Vicki love the vintage apron lens!

Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer (author) from Hedgesville, WV on May 30, 2011:

@anonymous: Oh my! Boontonware in the attic! Hope it turned out okay for you! That brand is fun and lots of pieces still easy to acquire

anonymous on February 13, 2011:

My father passed last Valentines day and my grandmother's Boontonware had been in his barn attic, for at least 30 years. Rats and squirrels had lived in and near the crate so I had to bleach them all. I'm overwhelmed with all this items I have to research. Thank you for your info.

Vicki from USA on February 07, 2011:

I love the pretty colors and simplicity of Melmac dishes! I only have a few pieces, but I hope to collect more as I find them and the price is right. Great lens -- I enjoyed looking at your collection. I gave you a thumbs up and a lensroll to my Vintage Aprons lens. ~Vicki~

anonymous on February 01, 2011:

I collect melamine as well. Glad to see others are also into this hobby. I haven't made a lens on it yet though.

anonymous on January 26, 2011:

Love the vintage melmac dinnerware. I did not know your trick for getting the stains out, clever.

Related Articles