Las Vegas, Nevada Monday, Apr 18 2011 

Viva Las Vegas

This stunning plate was produced by Bradley Exclusives of Japan. Japanese pottery imports had a dramatic impact on the US in the years following WWII.  There were many imports from Japan coming in from small pottery shops, like Bradley.

The great thing about this plate is that it immortalized Las Vegas the way it was back in “the day”. The hotels and casinos depicted on the plate, in stunning color I might add, are legendary. Some, like The Riviera, The Sahara, The Tropicana and The Flamingo are still busily separating folks from their money along the famous Las Vegas Strip. Others, sadly, didn’t fare so well.

The Dunes

Originally built in 1955, The Dunes had a rather humble beginning at the southernmost part of The Strip, but was easily recognizable by the 35 foot tall fiberglass sultan towering over the main entrance. In 1993, The Dunes was destroyed during a massive implosion ceremony that included fireworks, cannons and over 200,000 spectators. The Bellagio now stands on the old site.

Desert Inn

Originally known as Wilbur Clark’s Desert Inn, this venue featured nearly every major star of the last 50 years. Its famous Crystal Ballroom hosted stars too numerous to mention here, including Liberace, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Cher and Tina Turner. In 2001, the main tower of the Desert Inn was demolished and the property was reborn as Wynn Las Vegas, a megaresort and casino.

The Stardust

The Stardust opened its doors in 1958 and may have been best known for the magnificent sign that graced its exterior. The Stardust sign became a sort of unofficial emblem for Las Vegas, with its 16-foot diameter model of the Earth surrounded by neon star bursts and 3 dimensional acrylic planets in what can only be described as a panoramic view of the Solar System. The Stardust enjoyed a long, star-studded history but was demolished in 2007.

The Sands

When you think of the The Sands, you have to think of the Rat Pack. Opened in 1952, The Sands was considered “the cool” place to be in Las Vegas. Its most famous claim to fame was in 1960 when, during the filming of Ocean’s Eleven,¬†Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford performed on stage together for the first time. They would forever be known after that as the Rat Pack. Despite its hip history, the hotel was demolished in 1996 and The Venetian was built in its place.

My Las Vegas plate is one of my favorites mostly because there’s a huge amount of brightly colored kitsch contained in a very small area and I like that in a plate.

What? No noms?

My neighbor’s cat is unimpressed with the empty plate lying on my lawn.

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New Orleans 250th Anniversary Plate (1718-1968) Monday, Apr 18 2011 

New Orleans 250th Anniversary Plate

This beauty holds a special place in my heart, since I consider New Orleans to be my home. This plate was conceived by the artists at Kettlesprings Kilns of Alliance, Ohio, a company still happily designing commemorative plates today.

The plate has some beautiful detail work of various famous (or infamous) New Orleans locations. I’ve chosen a few of the most striking to highlight.

Jackson Square

Jackson Square

The centerpiece of the plate is a detail of Jackson Square Park, located in the heart of the French Quarter. A total of seven flags have flown over this square, representing five different peoples and their governments.

LaFitte's Blacksmith

LaFittes Blacksmith Shop

According to legend (and there are a few surrounding this little shop) the pirates Jean and Pierre Laffite used this little, ramshackle shop to conduct their smuggling affairs.

Old New Orleans Mint

The Old New Orleans Mint was the first mint in the U.S. to coin silver money. During the Civil War it was briefly converted into a Federal Prison.

The Cabildo

Built in 1795, the Cabildo was erected by the Spanish and was the seat of Colonial government in New Orleans. The ornate building has survived 2 fires, an attempt to have it demolished in the late 1800’s and, most recently, Hurricane Katrina. (And yes, if you look closely there is a tiny bug crawling across the front lawn of the Cabildo. That’s what I get for taking my pictures outdoors.)

Reverse side of plate

On the reverse side of the plate is additional, colorful information about each of the areas outlined on the front.

So, there we have it. The New Orleans 250th Anniversary Commemorative plate. Laissez le bon ton roulette!

Why Souvenir Plates? Sunday, Apr 17 2011 

Because they’re colorful, mementos of places frozen in time and I just find them fascinating. I have actually visited some of the places I have plates for, but the vast majority have been plucked from various thrift stores & flea markets over the course of many years. Most of my plates are the relics of other people’s memories, relegated to “junk” when their owners passed away or decided Rock City really wasn’t all that great. But I’m there, combing through the stacks of plates and crockery, hoping to find a gem hidden amongst the piles of odds and ends.

My plan here is to feature a few of my favorite plates each week and hopefully encourage some other folks to share theirs as well. I by no means consider myself to be any sort of expert on souvenir plates, just an avid fan and collector.

I suppose its only proper that I should kick this plate parade off with the famed “Behind The Frozen Window”, which is widely credited as the first limited edition collector’s plate. It was created in 1895 by the Danish company, Bing and Grondahl. Needless to say, this plate is NOT part of my personal collection but is definitely one of my favorites.

Behind The Frozen Window

In the weeks to come I’ll showcase some plates I actually do own and I hope that some of you will want to share your own favorites as well.