Finding aid created by: DF
Date: 30 Jun 2014
Overview of the Collection
|Title:||Robin Ptacek Collection|
|Quantity:||7 linear ft.|
|Abstract:||Collection contains research files written and compiled by Robin Ptacek as they relate to melamine and, most particularly, Melmac; bulk of the materials are advertisements, correspondences, and e-bay communications.|
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010
Robin Ptacek was an art historian, curator, community activist, researcher, and professor.
He earned an MA in Art History from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1982. His thesis was titled, "Highway culture iconography in pop art and superrealism." He eventually earned a PhD from the same school, completing his dissertation, "Bisson Freres: Two pioneers of photography" in 1989. In addition to teaching at various universities throughout his life, he also served as a curator of modern art at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. After retiring from his professional career, he became involved in community activism, primarily around senior and LGBT issues.
While he had maintained an interest in modernist and pop art throughout much of his life, his interest in researching and collecting Melmac was sparked during a vacation in Palm Springs, CA. He recalled entering a nearby thrift store to escape from a downpour of rain and, upon encountering some Melmac dinnerware designed by Russel Wright, his curiosity was immediately peaked.
He intended to have his research efforts culminate in the publication of a print or online encyclopedia of Melmac products, but passed away in 2012, before the project was completed.
The Robin Ptacek Collection consists of research papers written and compiled by Ptacek as they relate to melamine products and, most particularly, Melmac. Melmac was the trade name of a melamine product created by the American Cyanamid Co. (it was also the name and elementary material of the home planet of 1980s TV character "Alf"). The collection contains mostly advertisements (originals and copies), communications with other melamine and Melmac collectors, and documentation of e-bay items and transactions. The collection also contains the research files of melamine collector and researcher Derek Schwartz, whose papers were given to Ptacek by Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer.
Advertisements contains original and copied clippings from magazines and newspapers, and bidding/transaction documentation.
Binders consists of 20 binders of research files of Melmac molders, producers, lines, and products.
Correspondence subject files contains mostly research and notes by Schwartz, including photocopied journals and book excerpts, inventories, contacts, and correspondences.
Material is divided into the series listed above, and items have been alphabatized.
The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.
Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.
Special Collections Research Center has numerous holdings in the areas of plastics and industrial design. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.
Special Collections Research Center has made a concerted effort over the years to ensure that its manuscript and rare books holdings complement each other. As a result, many of our manuscript collections are supported by books, pamphlets, serials and other items which are cataloged in the Rare Books Collection. Please be sure to search the Classic Catalog for these related materials.
Wright, Russel, 1904-1976.
Allied Chemical Corporation.
American Cyanamid Company.
Lenox China (Firm)
Royal China Company.
Moldings (object components)
Plastics industry and trade.
Genres and Forms
Preferred citation for this material is as follows:
Robin Ptacek Collection
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
Gift of Gregory F. Ptacek, 2014.
Correspondence subject files
|Oversize 1||American Cyanamid Co. 1946, 1950-1952, 1957, 1959, 1962|
|Oversize 1||Aztec undated|
|Oversize 1||Beetleware undated|
|Oversize 1||Boonton 1954, 1958, 1960, undated|
|Oversize 1||Branchell 1956-1957 undated|
|Oversize 1||Brookpark 1955, 1958, undated|
|Oversize 1||Fostoria 1958, 2001|
|Oversize 1||Kenro undated|
|Oversize 1||Lenoxware undated|
|Oversize 1||Lifetime 1955, 1957, 1959, undated|
|Oversize 1||Melamine Council undated|
|Oversize 1||Monsanto undated|
|Oversize 1||New England Advertising catalog 1958|
|Oversize 1||Oneida 1959, 1960, 1969|
|Oversize 1||Plakson 1956, undated|
|Oversize 1||Prolon undated|
|Oversize 1||Royal China 1958, 1962-1963|
|Oversize 1||Sears undated|
|Oversize 1||Texasware 1953-1956|
|Oversize 1||Top Value catalog 1956|
|Oversize 1||Woodbine undated|
|Oversize 1||Miscellaneous 1952-1952, undated - includes advertisements that feature melamine products in the background, and catalog excerpts that include multiple brands|
|Oversize 1||A 1998, 2007-2008, 2010 - includes research on ABC, airline usage of melamine, Adam's House, Allied Chemical Co., Apolloware, and Aztek|
|Oversize 1||Ba-Bo 1998, 2007-2008, 2010 - includes research on Bakelite, Beetleware, Bessemer, Bolta, and Boonton|
|Oversize 2||Branchell 1998-1999, 2007-2008, 2010|
|Oversize 2||Brookpark 1998-2000, 2007, 2010|
|Oversize 2||C 1948, 1998-1999, 2007-2008, 2010 - includes research on Clai-Ware, Capac, Carleton (Basdonware), Carlisle (Kenro), Cathamware, Chicago Molded Products, Cody, Colorado Ware, Coldspot, CMP (Malibu Ware), Corelle, Corning Ware, Couroc|
|Oversize 3||D-Fr 1945, 1951, 1954, 1998-2000, 2007-2008, 2010 - includes research on Daileyware, Dansk, David Douglas, John Derian, Devine Foods, Dinah Ware, Diplomat, Don Wonder Ware, DOW, Duraware, Ebonyte, Ellinger's, Endura, Envoy, Evermaid, Fiesta Flatware, Fitz and Floyd, Flintwood, Fostoria, and French Bull|
|Oversize 3||Fu-H 1948, 1954, 1956, 1997-2000, 2007-2008, 2010 - includes research on Futura, Gaydon, Gencraft, General Tire, GET, Gothamware, General Plastics Ltd., Grant Crest, Michael Graves, Hazel Pearson Handicrafts Co., Harmony House, Heller, Hemco, Hi Snack, Hollywood, Home Dynamics, and Hunter|
|Oversize 3||Halsey 1998, 2008, 2010-2011|
|Oversize 3||I -L 1954, 1957, 1998-1999, 2004, 2007-2008, 2010 - includes research on Ideal Plastics, Ikea, Imperial International, Imperial Ware, Irwin Willert Co, Jamboree, Jason Products Ltd., Jaydon, JC Penny, Jewel Tea, Karefree, Karoff, Kartell, Keller Charles, Kenro, Kingline, Kingsway, Kirk, Krenit, Krista Ware, Kusan, Kys-ite, Laguna, Lancaster Colony, Lenox, Lexington, Libbey, and Luauware|
|Oversize 4||Melmac ads and brochures 1945-1966, 1998-1999, 2007-2008, 2010-2011 - includes digitized ads and brochures from American Cyanamid Co., Plakson, Allied Chemical, Boonton, Branchell, Brookpark, Fostoria, Kenro, WorthPoint, Oneida, Texas-ware, Prolon, Watertown Ware|
|Oversize 4||Melmac logo pcs. 1998-1999, 2007-2008 - includes research on promotional Melmac items, such as those made for Barbie, McDonald's, Pacman, and Smokey the Bear|
|Oversize 4||Melmac research 1998-1999 - articles, print-outs, e-mails, and handwritten notes|
|Oversize 4||N-Pl 1998-2000, 2007-2008, 2010 - includes research on National Home Products, Nemir Industries, NFC, Nichols, Noritake, Northern Air Ware, Northern Industrial Chemical, Oneida, Peoria Plastics, Plakson, Plastics, Inc., Plastomer, and Precido|
|Oversize 5||Prolon 1998-1999, 2007-2008, 2010-2011|
|Oversize 5||R 1998-1999, 2007-2008, 2010-2011 - includes research on Raffiaware, Rainbow Plastics, Reed Prentice, Regaline, Reinecke, Riviera Ware, Rosti, Royal China, and Rubbermaid|
|Oversize 5||S 1998-1999, 2010 - includes research on Sakura, Sellex, Serv-rite, SiLite, Space Age Products, Spaudling Dinnerware, Stetson, Stotter, Strawweave, StyleHouse, Styson, Syscoware|
|Oversize 5||Texasware (PMC) 1998-1999, 2004, 2007-2008, 2010|
|Oversize 5||V-W 1998-1999, 2010 - includes research on Vacron Ware, Warwick, Watertown (Lifetime), Waverly, Westinghouse, Windsor, and Russel Wright|
|Oversize 6||Wright, Russel 1998-1999, 2007-2008|
|Oversize 6||Miscellaneous 2010 - includes notes and articles on designers, makers, materials and processes, and other categories|
|Correspondence subject files|
|Oversize 6||Allied Chemical Co. 1957, 1959-1961, 1963, 1965-1966, 1990|
|Oversize 6||American Cyanamid Co. 1960, 1990, undated|
|Oversize 6||Apollo Ware 1990|
|Oversize 6||Bakelite 2002|
|Oversize 6||Bidding 1998, 2001 - contains e-mails about bidding on e-bay|
|Oversize 6||Book preparation 1990-1991 - contains outline and other preparatory materials for Shultz's book project on collectible melamine dinnerware|
|Box 1||Boonton 1972, 1990 (2 folders)|
|Box 1||Branchell 1957, 1989, 1999|
|Box 1||Brookpark 1959, 1990, undated|
|Box 1||Contacts 1990 - list of contacts for Schultz's melamine dinnerware project|
|Box 1||Design history 1991, undated|
|Box 1||Fostoria 1959, 1989-1990|
|Box 1||Fugleman, Marv 1989-1990|
|Box 1||Good Housekeeping 1957 - several pages (including the cover page) of the Good Housekeeping Christmas issue|
|Box 1||Inventory 1990, 1992|
|Box 1||Jorgenson, Jay 2000 - photography|
|Box 1||Kenro 1990|
|Box 1||Lenoxware 1962, 1967, 1990|
|Box 1||Lines 1955, 1957, 1990 - list of melamine product lines from North American companies and some photocopied advertisements|
|Box 1||Lucent 1956, 1958, 1990|
|Box 1||Manitoga 1990 - map to and newsletter for Manitoga, the estate of Russel Wright|
|Box 1||Melamine: general 1989-1990, 1997 - includes a copy of Antinque Trader weekly from Feb 1997|
|Box 2||NHMA 1990 - National Housewares Manufacturers Association|
|Box 2||Oneida 1959, 1962, 1990|
|Box 2||Plastics 1945, 1989, 2002, undated - includes photocopies of "The Watertown book of plastics" and a "Plastics Newsfront" (newsletter of American Cyanamid Co.)|
|Box 2||Plastics dinnerware articles 1955, 1989, 1993-1994, 1996, undated - clippings from The New York Times, Boomer, Better Homes & Gardens, an issue of Antinque Week, and The American Design Adventure|
|Box 2||Pricing lists undated|
|Box 2||Production/logistics 1989-1992 - information and correspondence about publication for Schultz's book|
|Box 2||Prolon 1962, 1990|
|Box 2||Questions 1988-1999|
|Box 2||RW IdealWare 1990|
|Box 2||Smithsonian 1990|
|Box 2||Society of Plastics Industry 1990|
|Box 2||Stern, Bill 1990, 1999, undated|
|Box 2||Texasware 1962, 1970, 1990, undated|
|Box 2||Thayer, Robert 1989|
|Box 2||Timelines and genealogy 1990, 1994|
|Box 2||To call 1990|
|Box 2||US Navy 1990|
|Box 2||Watertown 1947 - photocopied clippings from House Beautiful|
|Box 2||Westinghouse 1990|
|Box 2||Miscellaneous 1947-1948, 1950-1951, 1954, 1956, 1962-1964, 1986, 1989, 1998, undated - includes photocopied advertisements, library request forms, magazine and newspaper clippings, "The dawn of a new age: Russel Wright Melmac" 2 folders|
|Oversize 6||Miscellaneous 1948, 1950, 2005, 2010, undated - one binder including e-mails and research files|