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Early this morning, I shopped at a local flea market with my sister and mother. We left with quite a haul, including this stack of ten lunch dishes by the famed MCM dinnerware designer Ernestine Virden Cannon. If you have read Faedra for a while, you know I get as excited about the stories behind objects as I do about the objects themselves. A little research about the mark on these dishes, “Ernestine Salerno Italy,” unearthed an interesting story indeed.
Ernestine Virden Cannon was the partner of the architect and tile designer Matteo D’Agostino, and she lived with him in Italy during World War II. Cannon’s painting skills and D’Agostino’s involvement in Italy’s ceramics industry were an excellent match.
While living in Italy, Cannon created jobs in ceramics manufacturing to assist with developing the local economy for those struggling in the aftermath of the war. The Ernestine ceramic company was founded in 1946 or 1947 and specialized in what we now recognize as mid-century modern tableware. To elevate her work, Cannon engaged the services of a German chemical engineer, Horst Simonis, in the early 1950s. With his help, Cannon improved her optimistic designs with durable and attractive glazes. Cannon changed the ceramics industry by developing gorgeous new colors, a fact that will not surprise you after you explore her colorful work. Furthermore, she pioneered the removal of asbestos from the manufacturing process.
In 1949, Cannon gained acclaim in the United States after a Pittsburgh trade show displayed her work. As a result of her rave reception, Cannon received the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award, an award given to distinguish important contributors to the fashion industry, including designers, manufacturers, and celebrities.
The stack of ten plates I purchased are in shockingly pristine condition – no utensil or wear marks! Judging by the availability of Cannon’s work on platforms such as eBay and Etsy, it seems that sets of dishes such as mine are a rare find. On my internet travels, I have yet to locate another set of ten matching Ernestine dishes. And these colors! If you want to purchase this set, I listed the set for sale on eBay.
While the prospect of buying an entire matching set of dishes by this coveted artist is undoubtedly enticing, I also love the idea of mixing and matching all the gorgeous floral patterns by this artist. If a groovy mismatched set of dishes is more your style, I have collected some individual pieces in some of my favorite Ernestine patterns. You can shop the dishes below by clicking on the links in the picture captions.
Do you love the Ernestine designs as much as I do? Or do you have a different set of dishes that make you smile? Tell me about it in the comment section below!
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