In the 1940s, Stangl Pottery of Trenton, NJ started producing a distinctive line of
hand-carved, hand-painted dinnerware. The base was a local red clay, and the
designs were based on the pottery designs of the Pennsylvania Dutch. The top
surface was covered with a thin white clay and the patterns were etched by hand. The rest is sealed in a clear glaze - you can see the distictive red clay on the back and rim edges.
After the first firing, paints and glazes were also applied by hand. The artists who decorated the plates were part of the women's workforce of the war effort, a la Rosie the Riveter. Legions of housewives with kercheives knotted on their heads like Lucy Ricardo. Each painter sat at her station with her own paints, applying colors to the pieces and initialing the backs when they were completed. Dishes of the same pattern vary widely because of the differences in the depth of the carving, the color blending of the paint and the hand of the artist.
In the close-up below, you can see the carved lines that let the red body of the pottery show through. The brushstrokes are visible - note the free form of each individual flower. In person, you can put yourself into a trance by staring at the beauty of these dishes.
There are more than 100 different patterns, and they were all meant to be for every day use. Dinnerware, giftware, lines for sportsmen and children, figurines and jewelry were also produced. They can still be found for a dollar or two at flea markets and junk shops, in antique stores and pottery shows they can be in the $8.00 to $20.00 range for the most part. Rare examples or limited production runs can be quite a bit higher. Learn more about Stangl here.
But don't go buying up the shops or driving the prices up on eBay. Leave it all for me.