Scan­di­na­vian Home Goods

Atomic Ranch - - Contents - By Stephanie Agnes-crockett

From Quist­gaard pep­per mills to Scan­dia vases to Cather­ine­holm enam­el­ware, Scan­di­na­vian-de­signed wares from the mid­cen­tury still em­body a seam­less blend of form and func­tion.

Aes­thet­ics meet u tility when a fresh in­flu ence hits the mid­cen­tury scene.


Skinny or stout, wide or wonky, Jens Quist­gaard pep­per mills come in a va­ri­ety of shapes. In fact, when a col­lec­tion stands to­gether, they may look more like an army of chess pieces than a use­ful kitchen im­ple­ment.

Af­ter see­ing Dan­ish sculp­tor Jens Quist­gaard’s Fjord cut­lery on dis­play at the Dan­ish Mu­seum of Art and De­sign, busi­ness­man Ted Nieren­berg and his wife Martha sought him out—and so be­gan the Dansk Com­pany in 1954. As the chief de­signer of the Amer­i­can-based flat­ware and cook­ware com­pany, Quist­gaard’s mod­ern take on house­hold items spread across the United States, Europe and Ja­pan. Peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ated Quist­gaard’s work be­cause kitchens were tran­si­tion­ing to more open lay­outs—which meant that uten­sils and cook­ing ware were more likely to be dis­played as house­hold trea­sures. Be­ing a sculp­tor and an ar­ti­san, Quist­gaard de­vel­oped prod­ucts that were both at­trac­tive and use­ful.

Quist­gaard pep­per mills were made from ei­ther bam­boo or teak wood. Teak is a more ex­pen­sive wood than most, but its dura­bil­ity and rotre­sis­tant na­ture en­sures longevity—a good sign for col­lec­tors. To­day, Dansk has reis­sued the pep­per mill with only a mi­nor de­vi­a­tion from the orig­i­nal model. The new pep­per mills are con­structed from aca­cia, and can be pur­chased for $40 to $50 on Ama­zon.

You can also find vin­tage Quist­gaard mills through an­tiq­ui­ties auc­tion sites as well as ebay and Etsy—with some start­ing as low as $15 and prices rang­ing into the thou­sands, de­pend­ing on the con­di­tion and size of the col­lec­tion. Pieces like the Quist­gaard mill are durable, and are be­com­ing more valu­able as they be­come more rare. Be­cause of their stun­ning de­signs, these teak pep­per mills as­sim­i­late into the mod­ern din­ing room and the vin­tage kitchen alike. Whether you col­lect them for a per­sonal trove, or just keep one or two on hand for grind­ing, Quist­gaard pep­per mills are a go-to mid­cen­tury col­lectible.


If you’re look­ing for the “real Mccoy” of mid­cen­tury col­lectibles, look no fur­ther than Mccoy Scan­dia vases, which amassed pop­u­lar­ity in the 1970s. The Scan­dia vase is known for its per­fo­rated sur­face, dot­ted with small holes like in­verted bub­bles, or with pin­wheel shapes.

The vase’s cre­ator, Nelson Mccoy San­i­tary and Stoneware Com­pany, first got its start in 1910, as an off­spring of the orig­i­nal Mccoy Pot­tery Com­pany from 1848. It was a fa­ther-son en­deavor be­tween J.W. and Nelson Mccoy, and fo­cused on min­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing stone. Un­like other prod­ucts from the same com­pany, Scan­dia vases took a mod­ern turn, de­vi­at­ing from the tra­di­tional stoneware the com­pany of­fered. The vases took their name “Scan­dia” and in­spi­ra­tion from an artis­tic move­ment af­ter Scan­di­na­vian style, bor­row­ing Dan­ish de­sign el­e­ments. These vases were pro­duced in five col­ors, in­clud­ing the de­lec­ta­ble “av­o­cado green” and “bisque” shades.

In ad­di­tion to func­tion­ing as mod­ern art, the Scan­dia line fea­tures func­tional, util­i­tar­ian de­signs. So, you can leave them empty as a col­or­ful ex­hibit, or freshen up those vin­tage hold­ers with flower ar­range­ments or pot­ted plants.

To ver­ify that your Mccoy is the real deal, look for the maker’s mark. For this line and era of the com­pany’s his­tory, the mark will likely be one of the com­pany’s later stamps—a num­ber, the com­pany name, stacked LCC (for the Lan­caster Colony Cor­po­ra­tion, who pur­chased Mccoy in 1974) and “USA.” Mccoy signatures are not in­cred­i­bly con­sis­tent, so a sim­ple num­ber and “USA” are also likely. To fur­ther au­then­ti­cate your piece, check out the di­men­sions of the vase in ques­tion and do your re­search to com­pare your mea­sure­ments to the di­men­sions of pre­vi­ously ver­i­fied Mccoys. If the num­bers check out, so should your vase.

Pur­chase your own Scan­dia vase through the auc­tion site at mc­coy­pot­, with prices start­ing at $90, or try look­ing on Etsy for an ar­ray of se­lec­tions.


Fe­male Nor­weigan de­signer, Grete Prytz Kit­telsen de­vel­oped in­ter­na­tional ac­claim at the 1954 Tri­en­nale ex­hi­bi­tion in Mi­lan, and pro­ceeded to style enam­el­ware items for Cathrineholm in Nor­way. When her de­signs met Arne Clausen’ lo­tus leaf pat­tern in the early 1960’s, the now iconic mid­cen­tury kitchen­ware was born.

Though founded in 1829, the com­pany did not en­joy ex­trav­a­gant suc­cess un­til the 1960s, thanks largely to Kit­telsen’s con­tri­bu­tions and the release of her de­signs with Clausen’s col­or­ful lo­tus pat­tern. Kit­telsen’s wares also fea­tured a pleas­ant stripe pat­tern, but these did not gar­ner nearly as much pop­u­lar­ity. Ini­tially man­u­fac­tured as brightly col­ored kitchen­ware, Kit­telsen’s line grad­u­ally ex­panded to in­clude more muted tones as the 1970s ap­proached. Un­for­tu­nately, Cathrineholm closed in 1971, and half a cen­tury later, the prod­ucts are col­lectibles.

“Enam­el­ware” is a gen­eral term used to de­scribe any kitchen item that has been glossed with enamel. Be­cause Cathrineholm was a steel com­pany, Cathrineholm prod­ucts tend to be enam­el­cov­ered steel. Unglazed kitchen items are much more sus­cep­ti­ble to break­ing, but enamel keeps the dish in­tact. It may chip over time, but it’s much heartier than or­di­nary kitchen­ware. This hearti­ness makes it rel­a­tively easy to find Cathrineholm pieces in good con­di­tion.

Aside from your lo­cal vin­tage shops, Cathrineholm kitchen­ware don­ning the col­or­ful lo­tus leaf de­sign can be pur­chased on ebay, Etsy, or, with an in­cred­i­bly wide price range. If you are pur­chas­ing an en­tire set or if your cabi­net space doesn’t al­low for col­lect­ing bowls, casse­role dishes, pots and pans, a piece of art­work might be just the trick. Clausen’s lo­tus de­sign is so iconic that the kitchen­ware has be­come the sub­ject of art­work and can be found in mod­ern prints.

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