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April 25, 2012

Dining Mad Men Style – A Guest Post On Mad Men Dinnerware

Everyone give a nice warm welcome to Deva Mirel, who was nice enough to write a guest post for us today about one of her favorite topics: Vintage Dinnerware. When Deva told me that she would love to talk about the dishware from Mad Men with all of us, I was so excited. So, without further yammering by me, here’s Deva’s excellent post!

Forget the boyfriend, I'll take the Pyrex!


For vintage fans, each episode of Mad Men offers an opportunity to gaze into the past and absorb the acute accuracy of the mise-en-scène directed by creator Matthew Weiner. For those vintage fans obsessed with housewares, the aqua snowflake Pyrex casserole presented a more memorable impression than Peggy’s boyfriend in season 4. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one watching Peggy drink coffee from a minty Jadeite mug with bated breath–afraid, in the back of my mind, that the scene would take a turn for the violent or the clumsy, sending the collectible crashing to pieces. And then there are the Dorothy Thorpe Roly Poly glasses that follow Don from his old office at Sterling Cooper to the new digs of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. These designs are iconic, recognizable, and fairly easy to locate on Etsy or identify in the wild at thrift shops.

As a student of vintage dinnerware, I also get excited over the dishes. Two china sets really stand out in the Mad Men series and, like every other set design detail, enhance the accuracy of the show.

Betty’s Everyday Dishes

Raffia: Love it or lump it?


Season 1 is the best for spotting Betty’s everyday dishes. Betty and Francine hang in the Draper kitchen, smoking cigarettes and sipping coffee and these are some of the best shots of the family’s everyday dishes. The design is Raffia (1953-1954), nearly identical to Barkwood (1953-1958). Both were manufactured by California pottery brand Metlox. Barkwood is straight up brown and cream while the Draper’s Raffia design has some green in it.

I find the selection of the Raffia design intriguing. Personally, I don’t find the pattern very appetizing. But I do see how it compliments the knotty pine kitchen and definitely has an everyday feel to it.

Metlox Barkwood on the left, Raffia (Betty Draper's pattern) on the right


The Metlox line of dinnerware was sold in department stores and became popular with brides registering. Obviously it is not a coincidence that Don and Betty married in May of 1953, the same year this china pattern was made available. This detail adds authenticity to the story line and also speaks to the middle class aspirations as well as the family’s keen design style. The Metlox dishes were American made, hand painted, and tended toward a modern design. My aunt and uncle had this Green Rooster design, put out in 1956, for their everyday dishes. Eventually, Metlox–along with many other domestic dish imprints, shut down production in the 80’s as dishes made in Japan took over the market.

Metlox Green Rooster


Trudy Campbell’s Amber Glo

Stangle Amber Glo--Pete's smart apartment surely compensates for his personality!


Undoubtedly, Trudy Campbell’s Park Avenue apartment is a beautiful example of Mid-Century style. From the color scheme to the wall art, Trudy gets it right.

Kay Hackett's Amber Glo for Stangl as envisioned by her on the left and as actually produced on the right


Trudy and Pete marry in 1960 and their china pattern, Stangl Pottery’s Amber Glo, went into production in 1954 and continued through 1978–the year Stangl closed its doors. The Amber Glo pattern came in various shades of oranges and gray, depicting a symmetrical hand painted teardrop design complimenting the color scheme of the apartment as well as the clean lines of the couple’s Danish modern decor. According to the Stangl website, the pattern was designed by Kay Hackett, and was originally conceived “as a Scandinavian-inspired turquoise, blue and yellow gas flame motif.” Unlike the Drapers, who appear to have separate dishes for formal dining, the Campbell’s singular china set reflects the modern, streamlined aesthetic of this young couple.


As a born and bred Jersey Girl, research into Trenton-based Stangl Pottery sheds some light on one of the great mysteries of my Jersey upbringing: the slogan “Trenton Makes The World Takes.” Anyone who’s visited Trenton sees that the lettering hanging off the bridge is ironic amidst the current state of the city. Yet, it can also be viewed sentimentally reminiscent of a time when American craftsmanship and manufacturing was prosperous.

Onto Season 5?

I admit, I am a late comer to the Mad Men phenomena. Yes, I am watching the series on Netflix. No, I have not seen any of season 5. I’ve read about new bright sets to go with the changing times. So, have any of you spotted vintage housewares that grabbed your collector’s eye? Are there any dinner or serveware that’s grabbed your attention?

Deva Mirel is a fan of No Pattern Required as well as the owner/curator of Fresh Pastry Stand, an Etsy shop specializing in creating mod-tastic pastry stands from reclaimed vintage estate dishes.

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10 Responses to Dining Mad Men Style – A Guest Post On Mad Men Dinnerware

  1. Andrea Reply

    April 25, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Awesome post! I love love vintage glassware, and collect it myself. As for season 5, I think the piece I recall noticing the most is that Joan has a Corningware coffee carafe in the blue cornflower pattern. Until then, I hadn’t realized it dated that far back! I think Corning must have produced it nearly forever – I remember it still being popular in the 80s!

    • Deva @ Fresh Pastry Stand Reply

      April 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm

      Thanks, Andrea. I had fun writing it!

      Just finished season 4 today. I wonder if the carafe you are talking about is the percolator? They are very collectible but have been recalled for causing injuries.

      I love the Cornflower print and collect it myself. Pretty common, but oh the memories!

      • Andrea Reply

        April 26, 2012 at 12:14 am

        I bet it was the percolator, now that I think about it. I might have to fire up the DVR and take a look! There’s something to be said for collecting a common pattern (I collect the spring blossom corelle) – it’s easier to find pieces!

  2. Sara In AZ Reply

    April 25, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Really great post Deva! It’s so cool to learn about the actual names and the manufacturers of the different patterns of dinnerware they used on Mad Men.

    Gosh I cannot say I have noticed any dinnerware yet on the new season of Mad Men, but my eye is probably not as good as yours is either! Trudy did have a dinner party recently though so I’ll have to go back and watch and see if she used the same Amber Glo plates.

    ps – Your pastry stands are totally adorable! 🙂

    • Deva @ Fresh Pastry Stand Reply

      April 25, 2012 at 6:57 pm

      Thanks for the pastry stand love, Sara!

      I feel so ridiculous that I don’t have access to season 5 yet, but even if I were to befriend someone with TV reception, it wouldn’t be right to not start from the beginning. Hopefully the No Pattern Required crew will give us all glimpses along the way!

  3. deena Reply

    April 25, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    I always smile when I see the green rooster.

    My mother’s everyday pattern was Metlox California Provincial (the green rooster).
    I have her cookie jar, which has a neat wooden lid; a tea pot & lid; and a set of 8 plates. I can’t see it without remembering it in our mint green kitchen growing up.

    I don’t really care for Rafia or Barkwood; but there is a similar-yet-different pattern – Stetson RCA Whirlpool. The same dry-brush swaths of color, but in a circle, with a few sharp lines on the edges of each piece.

  4. Baranna Reply

    February 27, 2013 at 12:19 am

    First things first: Thanks for the fabulous, highly informative article. I was thrilled when I found it, as mid-century kitchen and dining items are a passion of mine. Your article made me worry, however, that I’d been informed wrongly on the matter of Betty Draper’s everyday dishes. I was under the impression that The dishes were Vernoware in Tam-o-Shanter pattern. I’ll have to go back and rewatch season 1, but are you sure it’s the Metlock Raffia? I’ll have to redo my collection if you’re right! Yikes! Also, do you have any idea what Betty’s china pattern is? I’d love to start collecting that. Thanks for the great info, and thanks for sharing the mid-century modern love.

  5. jana Reply

    May 16, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Lovely article, Deva! The china that caught my eye was Betty’s “Bamboo” pattern. (light blue, with white bamboo to one side, which was in evidence when Betty and Don were still married) My family had this pattern and I just gave the remaining pieces to my nephew, hipster in the making.

    I also noticed (in Pete and Trudy’s apt)what I thought was another Stangl pattern, but the camera never came in tight on it. I think it might have been the thistle pattern. I also believe there was a pitcher by Vernon Kilns in the same scene.

    It’s wonderful, the attention to detail in this series. Ostensibly, you might think it means little. But the totality of it means *everything*. It informs the actors, it informs the audience. Lovely, lovely show. Sorry to see it go.

  6. Maggie Reply

    July 28, 2015 at 9:17 am

    Hi All: At the end of Mad Men Season 5, Episode 4, when Joan breaks up with her husband, her table is set with a terrific blue set of dinnerware. I can almost remember the name of it but if anyone can help me out, would be great. Nice to see how many other people are noticing and appreciating all these props that are so beautifully recreated in these new shows!

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