The Mystery of the Oval Glass Bread Plate

For themselves, they decided to buy a present together, something they could both use and enjoy. After much studying of Montgomery Ward’s catalogue, they chose to get a set of glassware. They needed it for the table and 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.”

When the box came from Chicago a few days before Christmas and was unpacked, they were both delighted with their present.

~Laura Ingalls Wilder, in The First Four Years

As a collector of things that Laura owned and loved, I was interested in finding this particular set of glassware. In searching through an 1885 Montgomery Ward catalog, I found this advertisement:

Crossed Disk Glassware Set from the 1885 Montgomery Ward catalog

Crossed Disk Glassware Set from the 1885 Montgomery Ward catalog

The first thing I noticed in the ad is the difference in the pictured bread plate and the bread plate on display in the museum at Rocky Ridge Farm. If you look carefully, you will see that they are not identical.

The one in the ad has deeper sides and appears bowl-like. Also, the lettering wraps around in a circular fashion, as opposed to the lettering going from left to right on both top and bottom of the plate, as the one at Rocky Ridge does. I have seen this bread plate before, and own several. The plate is definitely deeper than the one we all attribute to Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Look at the photos below. To me, the first one more closely resembles the Montgomery Ward ad; the second image is like the one on display at Rocky Ridge.

Several reasons for the discrepancy come to mind:

1. Montgomery Ward substituted the different bread plate in the shipment.

2. The original bread plate was broken and Laura replaced it with the one now on display.

3. The different appearance is perhaps due to shading in the artwork.

What do you think?

Posted in LIW-Related Items, Mansfield, Research, The First Four Years Tagged with:
16 comments on “The Mystery of the Oval Glass Bread Plate
  1. Elliemae says:

    Interesting indeed!

    To me, the second photo (the one on the right) most resembles the bread plate in the catalog. Look at the size of the lettering, and how it is closer to the edge of the plate. Also note the direction of the wheat sheaves in relation to “our daily bread”. The wheat sheaves in the first photo face the opposite direction of those in the catalog and the other plate.

  2. You’re right Elliemae, the photos were reversed in the article. Good eye. We will get them correected.

  3. Laura says:

    I have one like the one on the right, which was advertised and I bought it because it was supposed to be a part of the same set Laura had. I’ve thought since I got it that it was not the right one because it was different than the one on display. I’d like to think that Laura originally had this kind and the one on display is something she had replaced it with :). I’ll still be looking for one like the one at Rocky Ridge though, simply because I have to have that one too 😉

  4. Connie says:

    I, too, have an oval glass bread plate like the one pictured on the right. I found it years ago at an antique shop, thinking it looked like the one in “The First Four Years”, but not for sure until I got home and opened my book to check. Over the years I have seen a few more while antiquing, but they never have been like the one pictured on the MW catalog page. Maybe you’re right, Cheryl, that the catalog drawing may have been one kind and the plate the Wilders received was the one with larger lettering. Who knows….I am just happy to have one to remind me of Laura and Almanzo, bread in The Long Winter, and God’s goodness in providing for our needs.

  5. Laura says:

    I actually have the second plate that you showed in the picture. Not the Montomeryward one. I know this is also the same one that is on display in the Museum. I was recently discussing with my husband the possibility of selling this plate if you are interested in it at all I would love to be able to sell it to another fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder just like I am. I also have an autographed picture of the Little House on the Prarie cast. If you are interested in collecting these things feel free to contact me and I will see what I can do to help you out with your collection since I am starting to sell off the small collection that I have started.


    • Patrick says:

      Hi Laura,
      I ran across your comment while searching for a plate like the one you have. I’d like to buy one for my wife for Christmas. She’s a big fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and reads the series at least once per year. We’re both from Minnesota, and grew up not too far from Walnut Grove. We’ve visited De Smet, and are headed to Rocky Ridge later this year.

      Anyway, you mentioned in your comment that you were thinking of selling the plate. If you still have it available, I might be interested in buying it. Price of course, is the factor. Know that the plate would be going to another LIW fan, and would find a good home for many, many years.


  6. PHYLLIS EMIGH says:

    I have a question, how can you tell if you have the genuine artifact? I have a “LAURA INGALS SHEAF OF WHEAT ” Give us this day our daily bread plate. How do I know if it is authentic?

    • Sarah Uthoff says:

      Montgomery Ward was rather slapdash about filling orders. They would often picture and list things for sale they hadn’t actually bought yet. Substitutions were common. Both the curved and flat versions of the bread plate pictured above exist in the world and it’s my personal bet that they both were sent out by Montgomery Ward at different times and to different people, but records were never kept to tell us that for sure. Unlike fine china or glassware, this was never meant to be an artifact any more than the dishes you use every day in your cupboard is so they don’t really have any markings. It’s a mass produced item out of cheap glass and the only real market for them is Laura Ingalls Wilder fans so I’ve never heard of anybody reproducing them. If you have a bread plate that matches the one in the photo or the one on display at Mansfield, I think you can safely consider it a genuine artifact. Watch the pattern though because “Give Us This Day…” with some sort of wheat design is very common and you will find endless variations out of lots of different materials.
      NOTE: This kind of glass is known as Early American Pattern Glass aka EAPG by glassware collectors and is in general not very well thought of and almost never marked. There are subsequently arguments, disagreements, and different spellings over pattern names etc. They aren’t easy to find, but if you set up a search on Ebay and keep checking back, enough were produced that they come up on a regular basis.

    • Joan says:

      I left one identical to the museum piece at a garage sale yesterday because it had a tiny chip on the edge. They were asking $1 for it. I think I’m going to be sick. UGH!!!

  7. B Lingle says:

    What is the current value of the oval glass bread plate.

    • Kay says:

      As Sarah above says, the only value of the plate is how much a L.I. Wilder fan is willing to pay for it.

  8. EAPG says:

    I have this piece among my 13,028 pieces of EAPG. Re Sarah Uthoff’s comment “NOTE: This kind of glass is known as Early American Pattern Glass aka EAPG by glassware collectors and is in general not very well thought of and almost never marked”, I’ve been an EAPG full-time professional dealer for over 55 years and decades ago made my fortune selling it, so I do not agree with Sarah. The manufacturer and year is known, I have a copy of the original catalog illustration, but do charge a fee via PayPal for info.

  9. Jeri says:

    If the plate on the left got broken then how could Laura replace it with the 2nd one and everyone not knows the difference

  10. I agree with most of the comments above. Exceptions are: A) I know that a similar plate has been reproduced. B) Chips devalue these bread plates. C) Early American Pattern Glass is not thought highly of.
    A) – the flat, flat bread plates that are really heavy or colored are reproductions. I know the difference because we are one of the largest EAPG sellers in the world & I’ve lifted thousands and thousands of pieces of early glass…and frankly who cares. It is something that the Little House Family loved and used and the prayer motto is a reflection of their Faith.
    B) If you want perfect glass, historical glass is not for you. Go buy something perfect at Walmart. This glass was used by our fore-mothers who made due without running water or electricity and virtually every piece of EAPG before the late 1890s traveled to its first owner, at least part way, by horse. I’ve seen dozens of these plates and never seen a perfect one..
    C) I wish you could see a few of the incredible comments I get from my thousands of customers raving about their joy at finding a matched piece of the dishes their great, great Grandmother used and loved. There is a wide variety of tastes in dishes and memorabilia. The ‘taste’ for this EAPG (Pressed glass made in America between about 1850 & 1910) may not be up there with some pricy collections, but those who revere their Family History LOVE it. And by the way, about 85% of our customers for EAPG are men…. all of whom, I suspect, loved their grandmothers. 🙂
    We have a story about the Little House on our web site – and the web address reflects my inability to spell the word “prairie” until my daughter-in-law checked the site after I’d launched it, so it is:
    We have also learned the pattern bought from Montgomery Ward. We have a few pieces in stock & I’ll add their photos to the web site soon.
    God Bless us all as we reach back into the Past for some memorabilia of the simple, God-Fearing Life in America.

  11. Elaine Montgomery says:

    I have a dark green bread plate that looks just like these. It has a satin glass feel.

    Can you tell me anything about this….