Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Oneida Twin Star Flatware


I like to fall asleep “day dreaming” about uncovering great vintage finds at estate sales. Sometimes I imagine finding an entire box of pristine Pyrex bowls or perfect 1940s or 1950s dresses in my size. And of course, they are priced really cheap! A girl can dream, right?

I’ve yet to have one of these magical vintage dreams come true, until last month. Jeremy and I stopped in at an estate sale but didn’t expect to find much since it was the end of the last day of a 3 day sale. I like to stop in the kitchens at estate sales first usually to hunt down any remaining colored Pyrex. While browsing the kitchen I spotted the handle of a butter knife etched with starbursts. I immediately recognized the pattern as Oneida Twin Star flatware. My grandmother has bits and pieces of the set and I’d always dreamed of having a full set of my own.



Oneida Twin Star Serving Spoons and Fork via The Sunshine Grove
Twin Star Serving Spoons and Fork 

The butter knife was half covered by a table cloth. As I moved the table cloth for a better look I noticed that there wasn’t just one butter knife, but almost a complete flatware set. They were in a plastic utensil sorter, which I clutched to my chest as I asked Jeremy wide-eyed, “Do you know what this is?” He didn’t. Besides the fact that the set had sentimental value and that aesthetically I liked it, I didn’t really know much about it either. I set out to find the history of the Twin Star pattern and share it with you.
Oneida Twin Star Flatware via The Sunshine Grove
Twin Star teaspoon, tablespoon, butter knife and salad fork.

In 1931 General Mills began offering coupons for spoons, forks and knives inside of their flour products. Over 50 General Mills products offered the coupons in the 1950s and were redeemable for flatware table settings, pots, cookbooks from the Betty Crocker Catalogue and an Embassy or Majestic Chest to keep the flatware in. Eventually the coupons became box top points on GM boxes, but due to consumer changes the program ended in 2006 after a 75 year run.

Betty Crocker Coupons from 1965 Courtesy of Gram's Recipe Box
 
In the 1950s the Betty Crocker Catalogue began offering full table settings with the tag line “Solid Stainless by Oneida Community Silversmiths.” The modest housewife could take advantage of the Thrift Plan which offered single pieces of the flatware sets for mostly coupons while paying a small fee for the shipping and handling. For those that loved the pattern and needed to have the complete set immediately, the Speed Plan allowed for a cash purchase with a few coupons used for a discount. It does not appear that the sets offered in the Betty Crocker Catalogue were sold in stores.

Twin Star Catalogue Courtesy of Atty's Vintage


Oneida’s Twin Star flatware set offered 19 pieces which included serving flatware and a set for children. For $1.25 you could start collecting the complete set with a 3 piece table setting of fork, butter knife and spoon. A highlighted selling point was that the flatware didn’t need to be polished because it kept its luster. The butter knives had an option for a hollow handle which according to the advertisement was a luxury.


Oneida Twin Star Spoons via The Sunshine Grove
Twin Star Fruit Spoon, Iced Tea Spoon and Sugar Sppon
 
Oneida Twin Star via The Sunshine Grove
Twin Star Butter Spreader and Sea Food Fork.

I have not been able to find exact dates of production. Around the web it would seem that Twin Star was either exclusive to 1959 or was discontinued then. I found a magazine advertisement from November 1961 for “America’s most popular” Twin Star flatware set. The offer expired January 1962. The Betty Crocker Catalogue order form offering Twin Star flatware offers the products through September 1965. With a bit of browsing, Twin Star was available well beyond the 1959 date. Maybe that is actually the release date for the flatware?

My flatware set is not complete, but I’m going to keep looking now that I know vintage day dreams do come true.

17 comments:

  1. Glad to hear your vintage picking dream came true. I harbor those same dreams. I found you while searching for the booklet that showed Twin Star and the other Community patterns...my oldest sister picked Twin Star to collect, starting in 1959. My mother had the older silverplate Queen Bess, and thought we should all have everyday flatware in our "hope chests" (I was 8!!). My other sister and I picked My Rose. We all got pieces for 10 cents + the coupons and over time got complete sets. I remember counting out the values of the coupons! It was definitely not sold in stores. The Community stainless was a better quality than other Oneida sold in stores. I know it was available at least until 1965. I recently found a whole set of Twin Star at a yard sale, and my daughter loved it, so it's hers. Enjoy your hunt for more of it!

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    1. I figured I wasn't the only one with vintage dreams! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with the Oneida flatware - it sounds like you and your sisters were well prepared for the future.

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  2. I'm a little teeny weeny bit on the jealous side here, I love them, especially the spoons. Well done and lucky you :)

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    1. Thanks Chantal! Wondering if these were available in the UK?

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  3. I grew up with Twin Star, and inherited Mom's set. After my son and stepsons grew up with it, I gradually had no more forks. Well, ok, I had one. Laugh if you want but but that's life for you. I did find some knives in the thrift store once, but apparently missed the rest of the set. I stalked eBay and got some forks and thought I was done when I saw an auction for a mint condition set. They are so shiny, they look brand new and unused. I've reached twin star heaven.
    And we haven't even told them about the fruit spoons with the serrated tips that allow you to eat grapefruit straight away without the need for loosening the sections with a grapefruit knife.

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  4. This is so lovely. After being told that "young people don't like that stuff" by my in-laws, I am so charged to see you youngsters (I'm really not old, but...) loving this.
    WHAT is that plate? I gotta have that.
    We've got a few pieces of twinstar and we cherrrish! THANX!

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    1. I think my grandmother finds it humorous and maybe a bit ironic that I am in love with the things she grew up with. Send your in-laws in my blogs direction so we can prove them wrong :)

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  5. OMG what is that plate? LOVE IT!

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    1. The plate is Stetson Nest Stone and the pattern is called Diamond Carousel. I love this pattern and have been collecting pieces here and there but it is hard to find. Good luck!

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  6. I was married in 1966, and the previous year B. Crocker offered place settings for something like $1.95 with a coupon found in ladies magazines. Since it was one coupon per household, all my mom's friends and neighbors helped me in collecting my sets of Twin Star and My Rose. I added all the extra pieces with the BC coupons found on cereal, cake mixes, flour, etc. My mom got the Chatelaine pattern I'm thinking a bit later, not sure. I'm still using Twin Star every meal. The My Rose is put away, and I have chosen Louisiana, a more traditional pattern "for company." Oneida offered sample teaspoons back in the 60's and 70's for I'm thinking 25 cents each, a limit of 4 each coupon, also found in ladies magazines. I filled an antique spooner with sample spoons that still sits on my kitchen counter and used constantly. I have always wished I could add to those sample spoons, which has made interesting conversation for friends who stop by for tea. Thanks for reminiscing.

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    1. What wonderful memories! I love that collecting the set was a group effort with your friends and family. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  7. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! Thank you so much for sharing your story! I found the beginnings of my Twin Star set in the basement of an estate sale in an old cardboard box, all for $5.00. At the time I didn't know the name or when it was from but I love Vintage, 1950's, red wooden handled kitchen tools, water dippers and rolling pins...so I scooped it up. For the last 8 years I have sifted through every dusty old box at garage sales, estate sales and second hand stores. I only buy things I can use everyday and this fit right in. I've been wondering for a long time and I have tried to look up the information myself and tonight I found you and your story with the history! Thank you for sharing, it means so much to me!

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    1. I'm so happy my Twin Star post helped you! You found your set for such a steal. I love sifting through dusty boxes at sales - that's where the best vintage finds are found. Thank you for sharing your story!

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  8. I grew up with Twin Star in the 50's and 60's. I just started collecting it a couple of years ago. When my mom passed away, I saw she had been using the remnants of her Twin Star as "cooking forks" etc. and setting the table with a newer set that my sister and I had started her on. I asked for the Twin Star, and then discovered my niece also liked it. I send her a few pieces for birthdays and when I pass on she'll get my collection. It's truly timeless!

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    1. I love how your family is passing on your Twin Star from generation to generation. That is amazing.

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  9. A couple of days ago I found two of the jelly spoons while thrifting (which I wrote about on my Wordpress blog, "Things from Thing Stores"). I really didn't know anything about vintage flatware, but they were adorable, and I poked around online when I got home. Your post was immensely helpful and entertaining, and I've linked to it in my post.
    Do you happen to know the etiquette for jelly spoons?
    Love your blog, and thanks for sharing so generously.

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    1. I'm glad my post was able to help you fill in the gaps about Twin Star. I can't pass up pieces from this collection when I see them at thrift stores either.
      Off the top of my head, I can't tell you about jelly spoon etiquette, but I will take a look in some of my vintage etiquette books and let you know!

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Thanks for stopping by and chatting!