The sale of items from the legendary late collector set new participation records for a Sotheby’s UK auction.
Background and Description
In the 1950s Duz Detergent began a promotional campaign which involved including a piece of 22K gold-trimmed Golden Wheat dinnerware in each box of laundry soap. They began this promotion to gain sales over Tide detergent.
Each month an additional plate, bowl or serving piece was added to boxes of Duz, to entice customers to buy the soap in order to acquire the dinnerware. Duz detergent gained immense popularity for offering this promotion.
The dishes were made by the Homer-Laughlin Company, one of the largest pottery companies in the United States from the 1920s to the present day, who produced the Golden Wheat dishes between 1949 and 1966.
The range of pieces included platters, luncheon plates, salad plates, bread and butter plates, soup bowls, berry bowls, vegetable bowls, cups and saucers, sugars and creamers, salt and pepper shakers, gravy boats, cake stands and more. There were also matching juice glasses and tumblers.
In appearance, Golden Wheat dinnerware is rimmed in 22k gold bands with decoration picturing spears of wheat bending in the wind.
The pieces given away in boxes of Duz include a stamp on the bottom which reads: ‘Golden Wheat. Made in USA, 22k Gold, Oven Proof’, with two little wheat sheaves either side. It does not state the maker.
Collecting Golden Wheat dishes
Many people collect Golden Wheat dishes as a matter of nostalgia, having grown up with their parents or grandparents acquiring and using this dinnerware. Due to the fact that there are so many various different pieces of Golden Wheat china, it can be an adventurous and fun collecting project to acquire a ‘complete’ or at least full dinnerware service set.
However, it is difficult to know what constitutes a ‘complete set’, as this dinnerware was produced between 1949 and 1966, and not all Homer-Laughlin pieces of Golden Wheat were included in Duz boxes. For example, someone may have adequate pieces for a six person table setting, but lack the gravy jug or salt and pepper shakers. The more pieces one has, and the more diverse the selection, the more valuable a collection of Golden Wheat dinnerware is.
Pieces can be found on auction websites such as eBay, and in antique stores, flea markets, car boot sales etc. In some lucky cases, Golden Wheat dishes may be handed down through the family. These pieces are not overly delicate, obviously having been transported in boxes of soap. However, they were designed before the widespread domestic use of dishwashers, and must be hand-washed due to their gold rims.
Occasionally you see these pieces offered still in the unopened boxes that they were housed inside within the boxes of Duz. These boxes read: “What a delight to find a piece of truly lovely dinnerware inside each package. Nothing to write for… no stamps or boxtops to save! Just buy new Premium Duz Detergent - your dinnerware is right inside! … We hope you enjoy collecting and using complete place settings of this "guest-quality" dinnerware”. Rarer still are unopened boxes of Duz soap containing pieces of Golden Wheat dinnerware.
There were copycat Golden Wheat items of china in very similar styles produced by several other companies, such as Edwin M. Knowles China Company, Fire King, Harmony House, Taylor Smith Taylor and Lenox. However, these are not the Golden Wheat dishes originally packaged with Duz detergent. These others will generally have their own maker’s mark on the bottom rather than the ‘Golden Wheat’ stamp that reads: ‘Golden Wheat. Made in USA, 22k Gold, Oven Proof’, with two little wheat sheaves either side. They also vary slightly in design from the Homer-Laughlin Golden Wheat dishes, the wheat spears in a slightly different style, and for example the Knowles china with the golden ring set further in around the plate, rather than on the rim. Other companies may also not have genuine 22k-gold on their products.
Single pieces sell on eBay for $3 for the small items like saucers, up to $45 for the larger pieces such as coffee pots and cake stands. Often they are sold as a collection of several pieces, prices ranging from $10-$300 dependant on how many pieces are being sold together and the condition they are in. It is rare to see ‘complete sets’ offered as it is difficult to know exactly what constitutes a complete set.
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