Manufacturer: Syracuse China
Pattern name: Harvey 4300 Series
Pattern name among railroad china collectors: El Tovar
User: Fred Harvey
Date of plate: 1947
Notes: This stock pattern with its blue flowers and acanthus swirls is found on page 26 of an underglaze Syracuse China pattern book and is called Harvey 4300, with an accompanying list of possible color variations for the pattern. Each color would have had its own number, based on Harvey 4300.
In "The Official Guide to Railroad Dining Car China," Doug McIntyre shows this pattern in blue and refers to it as El Tovar. He writes that it "was reportedly used at El Tovar," the hotel on the rim of the Grand Canyon that is a former Harvey House and that opened in 1905.
According to the Wikipedia, El Tovar was "operated by the Fred Harvey Company in conjunction with the Santa Fe Railway" and sits "at the northern terminus of the Grand Canyon Railway, which was formerly a branch of the Santa Fe." It is still open today (2013).
The addition of the Syracuse pattern sheet dated 1906 with the Harvey pattern name is more confirmation of McIntyre's identification of this pattern as having been used at El Tovar or another Harvey-owned venue.
About Fred Harvey
Fred Harvey was well known in the last quarter of the 19th century and during the 20th century for his railroad eating houses, many of which went by the name Harvey House. The restaurants – said to be the first chain – provided prompt service and high-quality food for incoming rail passengers. Eventually Harvey provided dining car and hotel service as well.
From the wikipedia: "Fred Harvey, a fastidious innkeeper, set high standards for efficiency and cleanliness in his establishments, personally inspecting them as often as possible. It was said that nothing escaped his notice, and he was even known to completely overturn a poorly-set table."
"It has been suggested that the Harvey Houses originated the 'blue-plate special,' a daily low-priced complete meal served on a blue-patterned china plate; an 1892 Harvey menu mentions them, some thirty years before the term became widespread. In addition to the Santa Fe, the Harvey Company operated dining facilities for the Gulf Coast and Santa Fe Railway, the Kansas Pacific Railway, the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, and the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis."
Harvey died in 1901, but his Fred Harvey Company continued to 1968 under the management of his sons and grandson, when it was sold to Amfac Inc.
For more info:
Fred Harvey – Harvey Paisley by Bauscher Brothers
Fred Harvey – Webster by Syracuse China
Fred Harvey – Encanto by Syracuse China
Fred Harvey – Denmark by Syracuse China
Berkeley by Syracuse China
Catalog page contributed by Larry Paul
Photo contributed by Susan Phillips