“Give us this day our daily bread”
McKee and Brothers plain glassware in “The City” pattern, purchases by Laura and Almanzo Wilder for their first Christmas together.
“…There was such a pretty set advertised, a sugar bowl, spoon-holder, butter dish, six sauce dishes, and a large oval-shaped bread plate. On the bread plate raised in the glass were heads of wheat and some lettering which read “Give us this day our daily bread.” – The First Four Years
One of the most popular Little House “collectibles” of Laura Ingalls Wilder fans is pieces in the same glassware pattern as those purchased by the Wilders for their first Christmas together, especially the “oval glass bread plate” with the words “Give us this day our daily bread” around its rim.
In The First Four Years, readers were first introduced to the set, which included not only the plate, but other pieces. The bread plate did survive the 1889 fire destroying the Wilder’s tree claim house; it’s on display at the Laura Ingalls Wilder / Rose Wilder Lane Home and Museum in Mansfield, Missouri. While studying the glassware, researcher Richard Fisher noticed two of the sauce dishes on display separately in the museum and identified them as part of the Christmas glassware, so these have been moved to be near the Wilders’ plate.
Almanzo and Laura’s glassware was made by the factory of McKee and Brothers Glassworks, located in Pittsburgh, run by Thomas McKee and brothers Frederick and James. They made all sorts of glassware, including window glass, telegraph insulators, and pressed glass dinnerware. According to researcher Gilbert Beeson, their “City” set of plain (meaning largely undecorated) glassware was pictured in a catalog of 1882, although it was introduced the previous year. Many pieces had two squared handles with a circular medallion at the corner; the pattern is sometimes listed as “crossed discs/disks” today. The top edge of open pieces was scalloped. McKee was in business until 1899.
Either the Wilders bought open stock pieces and only the ones they wanted, or they bought a set with many more pieces and Laura only mentioned a few of them in The First Four Years. Other pieces made in the pattern were large and small covered compotes, pitcher, celery dish, pickle dish, egg cups, one-handled mugs, and three sizes of footed compote dishes. The spooner was also available with an etched design on it.
CROSSED DISKS. This creamer is attractive in its conservative plainness, for good design needs no surface enhancement; the quality is better than the average, it is fairly heavy and thick, clear and bright, with no sharp margins, and with a fair resonance. It was made for everyday use.
The body is of equal width almost to the base of the bowl, where it curves in sharply to the plain circular stem and out again to form the well-domed base. There is a narrow band above and another below the waist, the usual means of stepping down curves, and the base is undecorated above or below. — Minnie Elizabeth Kamm, The Kamm-Wood Encyclopedia of Antique Pattern Glass (Watkins Glen, New York: Century House, 1961), 169.
[Note: the Kamm book contains a sketch of a Crossed Disks creamer; the photograph shown here is mine.]
OVAL GLASS BREAD PLATE. In at least one early catalog picture, the bread plate illustrated is different from the one on display at Rocky Ridge Farm. The Wilders’ bread plate is identical to the one shown in the picture here; the rim is flat, the letters have stippling inside the outline of each letter, and the head of the wheat sheaf faces to the left when the words are in a position to be read. Some plates were printed with smooth glass between the letter outlines, so it you want to buy a plate exactly like Laura’s, look for that stippling!
glass table set (FFY)
spoon-holder, see spooner
oval glass bread plate