My name is Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer and I've been collecting Russel Wright Melmac and Melamine for almost three decades. I launched my website, Melmac Central and in only a few years, it had almost a quarter of a million hits. The stories people wrote me about their collections or having melmac and melamine in their memories touched home for me. So for my site's quarter of a million anniversary, I decided to work on this site, and launch this free resource for people who love plastics as much as I do.
These links have been published all over the web, by melmac lovers like you and I. The problem is, finding them has been a mess. If they are buried in Google searches one may never come across them, but guess what? A melmac junkie like me knows where they are hidden.
Lots of folks out there who love melmac and melamine or plastics, have done a lot of research on the history of their favorite plastics companies. Most die hard melmac collectors are true to one line. Finding information can be time consuming unless you can research old ephermea, books, magazines and literature, which now appear to be our greatest resources.
In 1991 I was going to school and had my own apartment. I couldn't afford but flea market china and this was how my melmac collection started. I ate my grilled cheese of the pretties pink Melmac plates obtained for a quarter!
In the late 90's I had the opportunity to meet Dennis Teepe, a fellow plastics collector who then lived in Baltimore and whose basement looked like the plastics housewares department of Macy's circa 1950. He had lots of plastic toys and Branchell. He was working on a website to give others free information on Branchell and moved away to Providence, Rhode Island. Dennis is solely responsible for getting my collection of Russel Wright to outstanding proportions. Once I met Dennis I began trading my other melmac for Russel Wright lines, and possibly have the largest collection in the world. I also began researching it by talking to leads, buying old plastics books, magazines, and going to Syracuse. He was my first plastics friend.
Later I had the opportunity to meet Derek Schultz, a media designer who lived in Silver Spring, whilst in New Jersey had compiled extensive notes on Boonton and Boontonware. Derek's intentions were to write a book on Melmac, called the A to Z Melmac Encyclopedia. Derek passed away suddently, and his wife was kind enough to donate me his 200,000 piece comprehensive melmac collection to me. I've got it in storage as time hasn't allowed me the time to organize it. Derek had good research notes, of which I sent some of his notes to Robin Ptacek, another West Coast researcher who had spent his life loving all plastics from A to Z.
Robin and I struck up conversations via email and corresponded for a span that lasted almost a decade. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to meet him, we were on separate coasts. His love for all things plastic was eloquent and well researched. He originally wanted to write a book with comprehensive chapters on each manufacturer, and that's why I sent him Derek's materials. A book like that could have quite possibly take a lifetime to research and categorize. Ironically Dennis and Robin had met. In a tragic turn of events Robin would soon pass, and the research materials never sent back to me The hopes of Robin or Derek writing a melmac book had gone numb.
Also during this time, I have been pen pals with fellow researcher and book author Christopher McPherson, whose website Plastic Living is a huge resource for airline ware, Dura Company ware and Watertown. His great love for plastics remains unseen. In my opinion, Christopher is a very thorough researcher and likes to verify sources a few times before putting them into print. He is an expert on Watertown and will argue that Watertown was first to the table with consumer melmac. On that note, he may be right.
The truth is, I can count the people on one hand that care enough to set the record straight on plastics information and misinformation. I often find an article Christopher had beat me to, and it shows his comment pointing out their inaccuracies. Again, that's what I mean.
When you turn over a melmac dish you often wonder what that maker means, who they were and how valuable your items are.
My hopes here is to point you in the right direction of finding out a little bit of information on your favorite company. In my opinion, if the information is readily available on the web, why not have it all in one place?