Phil Naud of Redford looked right at home in the Cotswald cottage at Greenfield Village recently, where he shared facts about English life during World War II with visitors dressed in full military regalia.

My daughter, a fellow collector of restaurant or diner ware, asked him about some of the vintage pieces on display, and enjoyed discussing this hot field of collecting with him, turning over various cups and bowls to look at the manufacturer’s marks underneath, both dreaming about their future finds.

But what exactly is diner ware? Also known as restaurant ware or hotel china according to, it “describes plates and bowls, cups and saucers, and smaller items such as creamers and monkey dishes made especially for use in restaurants.”

“Potteries such as Homer Laughlin, Shenango, Jackson, Wallace, Syracuse, Tepco and Buffalo are some of the best-known manufacturers of restaurant ware, which is generally heavier than dinnerware produced for the home. Some of the most collected types of restaurant ware include airbrushed pieces, western themes (wagon wheels and cowboys throwing lassoes are popular), and plates bearing an establishment’s logo.”

We caught up with Phil recently to find out more about his chosen area of collecting as part of our spotlight on collectors and their passions. More information can also be found online at the Restaurant Ware Collectors Network,

1. What do you collect and why?

I collect many things, diner ware, magazines (for research and display), 78 RPM records, old camping gear, i.e., coolers, Thermos’, gasoline stoves (I have about 20 or so). Civilian Conservation Corps items, U. S. Military uniforms and equipment. I operate a WWII field kitchen with original equipment. Why? I have a master’s degree in history and do re-enacting.

2. How did you get interested in collecting this?

I became interested in the diner ware when we bought a house built in 1947. We have made the first floor period correct for the early 1950s and the basement is made to look like a 1940s cottage.

3. Where do you shop?

I find items for the collection at antique stores, flea markets, garage sales, collector shows and very rarely, the Internet.

4. Best deal? Most you ever paid?

Best find? A working 1935 Victrola for $20 at a garage sale! I rarely pay “market” price as I feel eBay has driven up prices on many items above fair value. Most I ever paid? $50 for a booklet produced for participants in the 1936 Army maneuvers in Allegan County.

5. How do you display it?

Items have been displayed in museums, lectures, living history events and, frankly, in our house, where we use the plates with my wife’s collection of tablecloths and napkins.

6. Dream find?

Dream find would be a White Castle plate, an original mid-war K Ration and a current issue UGR Express. Most people are not aware that what we know as fast food restaurants, at least the older ones like White Castle and Kewpee (now known in Michigan except for one in Lansing, as Halo Burger) prior to the mid 1970s actually had dinnerware and silverware. White Castle was the first national fast-food place and Kewpee is the oldest in Michigan. Dave Thomas ate at the Kewpee in Kalamazoo as a kid, when he left KFC and started his own chain, he copied the Kewpee burger, the chili and the shake and made them into the hallmark of Wendy’s.

7. Do you collect anything else?

I collect just about anything under the field of Americana!

Calling all collectors

Interested in having your finds featured in an upcoming column? Send an email to with a photo featuring you with a few items you collect and why and you may be chosen for a future column. If you are chosen, we will follow up with additional questions and information. We will feature the most interesting in an occasional column.

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