A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens has inspired a great many other creative endeavours, including films such as It’s A Wonderful Life, one of our must-watch films every holiday season.
These creative pursuits apparently extend to tableware, I was excited to discover. Shenango, primarily a manufacturer of restaurant ware, produced this series of twelve plates between
1952 to 1963 for advertising purposes – one plate per year.
Update: I have now received the remaining four plates and discovered that Shenango started producing them in 1949, not 1952. The first three plates were produced in 1949, 1951 and 1954. I can only guess that they weren’t sure at first how popular they were going to be so the first three came out slowly, and they are marked as the first, second and third plates. The remaining plates all say “one of a series”, with the exception of 1963, which says “last of a series”.
With a few false starts on eBay (nothing quite like what I went through cobbling together the Gibson Girl plates, mind you), I managed to lay my hands on eight of them before we left Cape Cod and returned to Canada last month. To my delight, Replacements tracked down the remaining four (
1952, 1953,1949, 1951, 1954 and 1957) and they await us upon our return to the Cape. Stay tuned! I’ll do another post next year with the full monty. Update: I’ve now got all twelve and have included the remaining four in the gallery below.
Here are the fronts and backs of all twelve. I really enjoy the full descriptions in cursive on the back of each plate.
The next challenge was styling the plates. They’re green and black, as you can see. And it’s a distinct shade of green – hard to match exactly, but would be good to contrast with other colours, or incorporate with a plaid. Maybe next time. For this go round, I elected to the table arrangement in shades of green so as not to detract from the plates.
I started out with cedar boughs, ivy, green apples and pears, but it still looked a bit dull, as you can see above. I consulted Mary Plumstead, my cohort in tableware crime, and she suggested layering in some gold leaves to add depth. Bingo. Dried Annabelle hydrangea and votive candles provided another layer of interest and the arrangement was complete.
Here it is with the candles lit.
Needless to say, this is NOT a table setting one can leave out casually for the cats to destroy (hydrangea everywhere – shudder). It did survive overnight, however and I was able to get pictures both in the daytime and the evening.
I wish all my readers a wonderful weekend!
I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.
There is so much to like here, and I enjoyed every little bit of it.
Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for visiting 🙂
I do my Christmas dinner table with the Shenango Christmas Dickens plates. I’m missing 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954. Some day I’ll have the complete set. Would love to see photos of the missing pieces so I could see what scenes Shenango put on them
Hi Pam. I just updated the post with the remaining four plates, both front and back. I was interested to discover when I saw the actual plates that the series started in 1949 with the first plate. The second was issued in 1951 and the third in 1954. So it didn’t become an annual issue until 1954. I can only guess that they didn’t know at first how popular the series would prove to be? Anyway – enjoy! And good luck finding your remaining plates. I managed to track them all down between e-Bay and Replacements.com
Just beautiful and heart warming. I only need one to add to my collection, 1954.
I went on a hunt to find these after my husbands mother passed away in November 2016. He was telling me about when he was a little boy how his mom would always serve Christmas dinner on plates, each plate had a scene from A Christmas Carol and he and his sisters would fight over one plate that had a ghost on it. A search on ebay quickly lead to me building up my collection but this 1954 one has me challenged.
His face lit up Christmas morning when Marleys ghost was opened and the remainder to follow. Sure enough that day, there was no fighting who was eating of which plate, my teenagers were entertained just by watching dads face.
Thank you for sharing, your table is beautiful
What a lovely story! That was a wonderful thing you did for your husband! I’ll bet he was thrilled. And a great memory for your own teenagers.
You might try asking Replacements to track 1954 down for you, if you haven’t gone that route already. Sometimes it takes them a while, but they have sources us mere mortals don’t have.
Thanks so much for visiting.
Update, I have been checking eBay and replacements daily but yesterday after a long day at work I decided to check in the evening. Low and behold 7 minutes prior someone had listed the 1954 plate, I purchased it without even reading the description, I am so excited to get this last one. Thank you again for sharing your beautiful masterpiece with us
That’s fabulous news, Cheryl! I’m so excited for you. I know that feeling when you finally track down the last of a series!! Excellent work. I can’t wait to see how you set the table with all the plates. Please share 🙂 Thanks so much for letting me know.
I am looking for the first three plates in the Scrooge Christmas series. I found two but they do not have any writing on the back, only a single number. Do you know anything about the plates with no writing on the back.
I’m sorry, I don’t know what might be up with the ones with no writing. It seemed from the reseaech I did that the first few years of production were in fits and starts, and wonder if they had a second run after the first plate proved more popular than they anticipated? Perhaps through a different supplier?
Thank you. I called a Museum that has a large collection of Shenango and the staff said plates without writing on back were seconds and given to the employees.
I have a large collection of these Shenango A Christmas Carol plates. I have multiples of 6 different years, so let me know if you need 1951, 58, 60, 61, 62, or 63.
I need 1951. Thank you! Please send a picture of front and back. How much are you asking for it.
Janet–are you still interested in selling 1951 plate?
Helen–are the first three plates a little different shape from the others–flatter?
Hi Mary Anne. I find the plates the same shape, particularly in terms of flatness. I think I know what you mean; when manufactured over a period of time some sets have more of a curved shape on some plates. I didn’t find that to be the case here.
Thank you. I got the 1949 plate on eBay recently and was a little disappointed in that the plate was flatter than the others.
Oh rats! Im sorry you’re disappointed. ☹️ I’m getting th sense that the early years were a bit hit and miss for the manufacturer. Does it make a big difference in the overall presentation, Mary Anne?
It does make a difference in presentation. Because of the flatness, it measure about 1/4 in larger in diameter than the other plates and is lighter. I guess I will look for another one. Unfortunately, this one cannot be returned. Let me know if you learn of any 49, 51, or 54 plates for sale. Thanks!
That is so weird. And annoying. I’m sorry, Mary Anne. Better luck next time. I’ve got a couple of different versions of some vintage dinner plates, that differ by half an inch or so. I always think it’s super obvious, but later when I look at the photos, you can’t even see a difference.
This is so cool Helen! My husband would love these too, as he’s a serious Christmas Carol fan. I love the table you set with them, and especially the photos of the backs, and the history. Your centerpiece didn’t hurt either! Gorgeous!
Thanks, Barb! It didn’t really register with me until I set this table that It’s a Wonderful Life is really another version of A Christmas Carol. It’s such a timeless tale, isn’t it? Appreciate what you have and don’t underestimate your impact on others.
I am still looking for 51 and 54 if anyone has one to sell.
Mary Anne, there is a 1951 on eBay right now.
Thank you, Helen. I got it! I swear I just checked eBay for it last week.
Now just 1954!
That’s fabulous, Mary Anne!
You may know this, but just in case: you can save a search on eBay and it will alert you if anything comes up. I tend to go broader on the search criteria, as people call patterns different things. Maybe “Shenango Christmas Carol Scrooge” might do it. You’ll probably end up catching a lot of stuff you don’t want (Shenango had a 12 Days of Christmas series, too), but better safe than sorry.