So many beautiful Wheeling products are now collectible. Wheeling Decorating wares are among these items.
Wheeling Decorating enjoys a following of enthusiasts who seek examples of this highly productive Wheeling firm that operated until 1962. The company decorated blanks made by some of the biggest names in glass and china at the time, including Cambridge, Central Glass, Fenton, Fostoria, Hall, Heisey, Homer Laughlin, Imperial and Lenox.
Known frequently by the initials WDCO, the company started out in North Wheeling at 700 Market St. It was a busy, thriving business.
Because of the generosity of James and Marsha Webster, the Mansion Museum’s collection of Wheeling Decorating Co. items now numbers more than 1,100, making it the most comprehensive collection held in a public institution. James Webster is the author of “Wheeling Decorating Co. Identification and Value Guide.”
Fancy designs that look like lace, etched birds and pheasants, gold-trimmed and colored flowers and urns, are all hallmarks of the WDCO look. Decorating both glass blanks, such as candlesticks and candy jars, and porcelain blanks, including plates and wall pockets, the company supplied Americans with decorative ware for their homes.
WDCO created many pictorial church and souvenir items, too, including school mugs, state plates and historical ashtrays, featuring scenes of famous places. Attention to detail is evident in the workmanship. The wide variety of items available makes WDCO especially fun to collect.
One of my favorite looks in WDCO wares is the fancy gold-painted serving pieces and china that are so elegant. Covered in 22-karat gold with a design of birds and flowers embossed in the china, it is lovely to view and enjoy!
Enthusiasts who want to become experts in this pretty collectible should be sure to purchase a copy of "Wheeling Decorating Co. Identification & Value Guide," a Collectors Books paperback, that came out in May 30, 2003. It is now available online.
This book is an incredible resource and the author (James L. Webster) did his homework to create a practical price guide. He approaches the subject as a storyteller, researcher, curator and glassware dealer. Because many WDCO pieces aren't marked, the 550 photos are helpful, too!
Oglebay Institute opened a special WDCO exhibition about six weeks ago in the Mansion Museum, a perfect spot to visit over the summer months. History buffs can learn more about this prolific Wheeling firm and discover the joy of collecting.
The detailed exhibit explores the history, artistry and impact of the one of the most prolific independent decorating companies which operated from 1900 to 1962, according to the museum. Pieces include glassware, pottery and china from the most comprehensive collection held in a public institution - and it's right in your own backyard!
The exhibit runs through October in the Sauder Gallery of the Mansion Museum, located in Oglebay Park. The 1846 Mansion Museum includes 13 period rooms and the Wymer General Store and Sinclair Pharmacy collections, so it's easy to find something fascinating for everyone. You may reach the mansion at 304-242-7272.
For comments or suggestions on local treasures to be featured in Antique of the Week, Maureen Zambito can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing in care of this newspaper.