Everett woman’s collection of corn ware is a harvest of whimsy

  • By Sarah Jackson Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, November 23, 2011 9:27pm
  • LifeEverett

Margie Betker of Everett has always had a thing for dishes.

When she was a little girl, she would visit downtown Everett’s department stores with her mother and stand in awe looking at all the different colors and styles.

“I didn’t care about toys,” Betker said. “I’ve just always been fascinated with all kinds of dishes.”

Throughout her 84 years, she’s collected numerous sets, including Queen’s Yuletide hand-painted fine bone china from England, service for 12.

Betker’s favorite ceramics, however, by far, are her Shawnee corn dishes.

When her grandson, Todd Davenport, remodeled her kitchen recently, he put in a special glass kitchen cabinet door just to display them.

Shawnee corn dishes, also known as corn ware, were one of the best-selling lines from Shawnee Pottery, a Zanesville, Ohio, company established in the late 1930s.

Betker inherited a few pieces of corn ware in the 1990s. Immediately, she started looking for more.

She found them in antiques shops in Snohomish, Arlington and Chehalis, on Whidbey Island and even in St. Regis, Mont.

She remembers when corn ware sets were originally for sale in dime stores for far less than they cost today.

Her teapot — modeled, like all Shawnee corn dishes, after an ear of slightly peeled corn — cost $95. Her six plates were $45 each, and they’re worth more now.

Betker delights in the many whimsical pieces she’s acquired over the years, including various sizes of salt and pepper shakers, an elaborately topped casserole, and relish trays that are the perfect size for rolling cobs of corn in melted butter.

Her 30 pieces of corn ware come from a Shawnee collection known as King Corn or Corn King dishware.

According to “The Collectors Guide to Shawnee Pottery,” the line actually started out with a white and green color scheme in the early 1940s.

In 1946, Shawnee changed the glaze colors to yellow and green and gave the line a King Corn moniker. In 1954, a darker green replaced the light and gave the line yet another new name, Queen Corn.

Betker much prefers the lighter King Corn line, but she bought one Queen relish tray, just for reference.

Shawnee produced a variety of pottery popular with collectors today, including cookie jars and pitchers shaped like dogs, cats, chickens, children, smiling pigs and winking owls.

Though Betker’s dishes are sturdy, all made in the USA, Betker doesn’t use them every day.

Her collection eventually will go her to her 10-year-old great-granddaughter, Ali. For now, Betker’s still interested in finding a few more elusive pieces.

“I’ve never seen the platter,” she said.

Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037, sjackson@heraldnet.com.

Resources

“The Collector’s Guide to Shawnee Pottery” by Janice and Duane Vanderbilt

“Shawnee Pottery: An Identification and Value Guide” by Jim and Bev Mangus

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