Tuesday, November 9, 2010

9 November 1956 “Early American and Realizations”

earlyamericanglass I came across this advertisement for Big Top Peanut butter and thought it fun to share. As you can see it comes in a reusable glass. Such promotions as these were becoming common in the 1950’s as it would encourage you to buy their brand, as you intended to collect up the glasses. I rather liked it because it describes the Sherbets and Goblets in the ‘Early American’ design.
I have spoken of this little known movement before. While many think 1950’s was all Eames chairs and wall to wall carpeting, the movement and look towards ‘Early America’ or Colonial was happening. Though, in true 1950’s fashion, they were not trying to fool you into thinking they had actual antiques, but rather pieces inspired by the early days.
earlyamericanimage3This dining room set is an example of this. It is certainly Early American, even by the definition of the description in the magazine. Yet, the piece is obviously modern and look at the clever ‘pass through’ from the kitchen that appears to be part of the hutch. Those chairs, many people propbably recall, as they lasted well into 1970’s design.
I have been becoming increasingly partial to this mid-century movement, as my own house, which is in fact actual Early American, that is built in the American Colonial Days, is quite happy with these pieces.
earlyamericanimage5This is a great shot of a lovely hall in Colonial/Early American. Here they show the wallpaper is meant to appear antique and certainly the grandfather clock is old. Yet the little hall piece with the ivy could be Drexel Heritage. The wood floors and rag rug show that it wasn’t all orange shag carpet and plastic floors back then.
 earlyamericanimage4Though even in a more modern kitchen such as this you see the Early American influence. This wallpaper, which is quite bold and graphic, is Early American in its scene. The old wood cook stove and the vignette of the ‘early days’ becomes modern in its use of color, scale, and how it is placed on the feature wall in this bright modern kitchen.
I love that about the movement: that is didn’t take itself too seriously. I think in modern design there can be a bit too much seriousness. I mean, we are meant to live in and enjoy our homes. I like a formal/colonial style, but I will have an old bust on my mantle wearing one of my vintage hats or a strand of old shell bead necklaces that were once in a keepsake box of an old relative. I think the introduction of the personal with style and humor is really important. I think that is also important in life as well.
I think in some aspects I was beginning to lose that this past year. My realization as time went on to how our country has changed and in what way it has changed has hardened me in a way. It sort of took my humor and made me a bit dour and sad. I couldn’t really help it, as I felt almost lied to by our country from what we once had and could have made into what sad state of affairs we have got. Yet, I am one little sad voice in a sea of much more powerful voices, so I think I have sort of come from those ashes, phoenix style, ready to just be happy again.
I cannot change the world. I have only just, in the past two years, learned how to change myself for the better. So, I had better stick to that and be happy in it. Be content in my little house, puttering about my garden and messing about with my chickens. Enjoying my further research and study into the past. Sometimes we need a break from our ideas before they become so heavy we can move for them.
I hope you enjoy the Early American style. I do have a Flickr Group dedicated to trying to gather these images together if you would like a look or to join. I shall add these images to it as well.
I hope all are having a lovely day and Happy Homemaking. Now, I am off to make candy. I have promised a friend to do a craft/food fair with her this weekend and there is brittle and toffee to be made. I will share recipes and pictures after it has happened.


  1. my aunt and uncle had an entire house of Early American up until the 1990's. I love it. I know that there are folks who hate it and it is sort of the step-child of that era, but thank goodness as that means that it is still affordable!

  2. Gosh golly everything was better in the 50s even the Peanut butter came in better packaging :(

    Never been a big fan of Early American although I have a few pieces I inherited I have to do something with if I ever decide to take the pieces out of storage (can't get rid of them because of sentiment)

  3. Donna, I do not like the mid-centry modern look that seems to be shoved down our throats these days. I'm not a huge fan of Early American either, but in your lovely period home it is just what is called for. Lucky you. I must say that Early American is so much more comfortable and inviting in an interior than sleek and boring modern stuff.
    Also I agree with you about the state of our country right now. I too have been getting depressed from it all. I live in the country and since I don't watch very much TV these days, I find that just staying in my little house and getting ready for Christmas is more where I want to concentrate my energy.
    Julie in Wa

  4. That peanut butter glass/jar! What a clever, green idea. Folks of the 50s just didn't know how in vogue they really were. Hmmm... I wonder if any companies out there would ever consider trying that again?

  5. i remember when the dried beef came in little jars w/diamonds stamped in them. we saved all those for juice glasses for us kids. that way it didn't matter much if one got broken. and they were the perfect size for little hands. and, in what was probably a holdover from the 50's, we ate a lot of creamed chipped beef on toast for dinner! :)
    not a big early american fan, as i grew up w/it mixed in w/actual period antiques. but i understand your love of it. esp. for your house. i am more of an eames lover, and if i were a '50's housewife, would be mixing deco and '50s modern, as well as depression glass and things of that era. there is always a way to make it work, yes?
    have fun making candy! i am inspired to go make my own toffee. i have a really good and easy recipe...mmm.

  6. My Grandma, whose home was built in the early sisties, had a VERY Early American look to it. Yet, she had a horridly MCM chrome table and chairs. It was a weird mixture.

    Actually, I wanted to share the most audacious thing I have ever done. About two weeks ago, I drove past my Grandma's old house. We had to sell it after she passed six years ago. It devastated me, and the family, but had to be done. Well, they happened to be having a yard sale that day. So I STOPPED. I went up and located the lady who now owns my Grandma's home. She was extremely nice and allowed me to go in and see what changes they have made. It was VERY odd. Still, by talking to the woman, and seeing how happy her family is living there, it helped me put to rest my feelings about having had to sell the house.

    Then, in the garage, I spied one of the chairs to Grandma's old table and chairs. I asked the lady if she still had the whole set, but she had gotten rid of it sometime earlier. The chair was the only piece left. I offered her $20 for it. She refused and GAVE it to me. I am sitting on it now. My Grandma would sit at that table and write her lists and watch her 'stories' in the morning. I feel connected to her in a way every time I sit here. It is a hideous chair, but I would fight dragon's for it. haha

    And as far a changing the world, the entire Revolutionary war started with a few people refusing to live like the others, and it caught on, and spread. Stand for what you believe in. You are obviously not alone. And the word seems to be spreading. I firmly believe that this infantile style of living has a breaking point. The 'roaring 20's' were full of this type of attitude and behaviour as well. Things will improve.

  7. Remember, too, that those little juice glass jars that held the spreadable cheese? I do miss getting the peanut butter and other things in glass packaging. I also remember when we got cottage cheese, etc in aluminum tumblers and bowls from the milk man. ;p

  8. Lori-Great story and cherish your chair!
    That is such a green idea to have your containers be something to keep and use again. Then, no recycling or toss away! I wonder if there are any containers like this now. I mean I will save a glass container with a lid to can in, but actually presented to you for the purpose of saving and using again?

  9. I always loved Early American style. It was popular for a long time. I was sorry to see it go out of style.

    Read here about grieving June Cleaver:

  10. Love the early American look! I have a Mennonite bedroom suite, as well as a coffee table and end tables, their classic yet are solid and made in North America!

    My dining room casual set I would classify as `country`` since I have a dinette area, and my hutch to match I also have a huge wall clock that is definitely looks like it was a hundred years old.

    My parents collected antiques and that is where my love for the classics orginate from. so in my new home (built in 2002) I have 50`s chrome chairs in the kitchen, and old fashioned look in my living room.

    It works for me :)

    «Mom in Canada

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