From July 16-18th, Homer Laughlin China collectors from all over the country and beyond converged in Pittsburgh, PA to get the dish on one of their favorite things: dishes!
The convention kicked off Thursday evening, and continued through Saturday night with a number of different collecting-inspired events throughout the days. Thursday’s activities were all about welcoming back old friends and meeting new ones, with a mixer celebrating “Four Seasons of HLC=Four Seasons of FUN!” in which collectors dressed up as their favorite season or seasonal activity and got to know each other with the help of icebreaking games (such as “Gone Dishing”) and, of course, a shared passion for HLC dinnerware. After all of the fun and games were over, it was time to turn in, as convention goers had quite a full day to look forward to.
Friday’s festivities started bright and early at 8am, with collectors meeting at the factory outlet for exclusive Shamrock and Poppy polka dot dishes, as well as factory tours. The turn out was unprecedented, with over 300 collectors coming out for deals on Fiesta, exclusive items, and an inside look at how their beloved dinnerware is made. After a quick lunch provided by Homer Laughlin, the members’ next move was the Hall China Company for a tour, and the Hall Closet for some more shopping. A quick trip to the Pottery City Antiques Mall, and the Museum of Ceramics, and it was time for convention goers to board the buses to head back up to their hotel in Pittsburgh.
However, the fun did not end there. After a full day of touring the factories and museums, it was time for the Friday night auction. With items ranging from vintage, to P86, and from Fiesta to Harlequin, this was not an auction to be missed. The highlight of the evening was the bidding for the decorated Carafe, donated by Homer Laughlin, with proceeds benefitting the Team Mojo Foundation. Bidding for this beautiful, one of a kind piece started at $1000, and with a room full of anxious HLC enthusiasts, each trying to add the perfect piece to their massive collections, it was easy to see that no one would be giving up easily. Finally, it was sold to Wally Haugen, father of Candy Haugen, for a whopping $3000!
Saturday dawned yet another full day of events, as collectors went from dealer booths, to seminars on insuring your collection and managing your inventory, to presentations on members’ personal collections (dubbed “Come Over To My House”).
However, the highlight of the afternoon was the judging of tablescapes and exhibits. In one of the conference rooms housed more Homer Laughlin dinnerware than was fathomable. The different categories of exhibits were tablescape, floral, “microzibits”, and large exhibits, with entrants bringing all of their creativity to the table for each category. These exhibits and tablescapes were not your typical place settings, by any means. Collectors went all out with their exhibitions, including backdrops, moving parts, and tons of accessories. One set up even had a working fountain attached!
The large exhibits were the real showstoppers, though. One group had compared what Fiesta purchasers paid for dishes in the 50s and 60s to what they paid for the same vintage pieces today in an exhibit called “It Cost Only What?” For example, in the 50s, one would only have to pay about $8 for a 4pc Place Setting. However, for the same vintage place setting today, collectors would have to pay upwards to $1000!
After all of Saturday’s exhibitions and seminars had ceased, it was time for the banquet dinner, award ceremony, and vintage costume contest. As always, the tables were set beautifully, with exclusive Green Stripe items, first fire Slate and Sage ornaments, exclusive Shamrock stick handled Demi Cups and Saucers and more.
After dinner, awards were given out for the best tablescapes and exhibitions, as well as for the best article in the Dish (HLCCA’s magazine for collectors), most influential member, and more. The Haugen family received another win for the weekend, with daughter Nicole’s victory in the vintage costume contest.
After one final auction, the weekend came to a close. However, board members of the HLCCA exclaimed they are already starting work on next year’s convention. With this year’s turnout, which was almost double the amount of attendees as previous years, they certainly do have a lot of work ahead of them, but we can’t wait to see what they bring to the table!
The HLCCA is not affiliated with Homer Laughlin. To learn more, please go to https://www.hlcca.org.