Simpson's, a Canadian department store, partnered with Sears in 1952. Their stores were known as Simpsons-Sears until 1984 when the partnership consolidated under Sears Canada. Though access to nearly 50-year-old foreign department store catalogs is challenging, Merry Mushrooms appear around 1973, three years after their debut in the U.S.
Today, Canadian Merry Mushrooms are regularly listed on eBay and other auction sites, often with prices in Canadian dollars. At first it can be daunting to differentiate between foreign and domestic fungi, due to the strong resemblance of the embossed and decal designs. But after taking a moment to consider the differences, identification can be done with confidence.
Let’s start with a look at four Canadian ceramic pieces with embossed designs and compare them to their U.S. counterparts. Future Family Album posts will cover other ceramic pieces, including uniquely Canadian products, and cookware.
Ceramic pieces were described in the Simpson-Sears catalogs as “made in Canada” and “hand-painted and created by Canadian artisans.” The ceramic pieces differ slightly in detail and color from the pieces available in the United States.
Soup Tureens and Beverage Servers
Pictured from left to right: Canadian Soup Tureen, U.S. tureen, Canadian Beverage Server, and the U.S. version.
Salt & Pepper Shakers and Butter Dishes
Shapes and styles of ceramic items are also different. Compare the Canadian and U.S. salt and pepper shakers (right). The Canadian ones are narrower under the cap, making the base more bulbous and the caps more defined. On the right are the butter dishes, which are obviously very different. Instead of a rectangle, the Canadian covered dish is a low and round light brown lid that sits on a white plate (left). It seems that, traditionally, Canadian butter dishes are designed to hold a full pound of butter, whereas U.S. dishes are for 1 stick, or a 1/4 pound.
So, even though the embossed designs are recognizable as Merry Mushrooms, look to the color and shape of the ceramic pieces to place them on the appropriate branch of the family tree.
More on the Canadian collection here and here.
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