The Salem China Company was founded in 1898 in Ohio. Throughout the 20th century, until 1960, the company produced dinnerware as well as novelty items, souvenirs, flatware and crystal. In 1960, the company was involved in distribution only. By 1981, the Salem China Company was out of business. During its decades of production, the company made china and pottery for supermarkets, department stores and discount stores. The company's china was marketed under many different names.
The More Obvious Identifying Marks
Look for the words Salem or Salem China Company. If these words are included in the backmark of your piece, you can be certain of the manufacturer.
See if the piece might be marked SLM, followed by a number or T.S.C.Co. SLM is another backmark for the Salem China Company, and the number represents a pattern produced by Salem. T.S.C.Co. stands for "the Salem China Company."
Look for an identifying logo. Salem often used a laurel wreath, similar to the one used by Noritake China. Another logo resembled a plate and cup with the word "Salem" written across the plate in script.
The Less Obvious Identifying Marks
Next, see if you can identify the pattern of your Salem china. The name of the pattern, such as "Antoinette" or "Biscayne," will be written above or below the china's backmark. Often you will find other identifying information as well. For example, a pattern name may be followed by one to four stars, a two digit number and a capital letter. The stars indicate the quarter of the year when the pattern was produced. The two-digit number indicates the year and the capital letter is the first letter of the designer's last name. So Biscayne, followed by one star, 58 and S indicates that the pattern was produced in the first quarter of the year 1958, possibly by the designer Don Schreckengost.
If the pattern is not part of the backmark, it may be identified by a number instead. Look for marks like "SLM 35" or similar combinations of letters and numbers. These patterns are harder to identify, but can be traced through websites like Replacements, Ltd.
Salem China was often marketed under different names. The company produced china for supermarkets and department stores, as well as various promotions. For example, Sears marketed Salem China under the Harmony House label. Other names include Royal Ovington, Seneca China, Victory and Main Street. Many times the Salem name will also appear with these labels, making it easier to identify your piece.
Finally, if you have been unsuccessful in identifying your Salem China pattern, use your digital camera to take pictures of the piece, front and back. Then, using your computer software, you can upload the pictures to websites such as Replacements, Ltd. that can help you with identification.