Q: My grandmother sold Larkin products door to door back in the early 1920s and received a ceramic platter as a prize. It’s marked “Limoges China Co., Sebring, Ohio.” The platter will be handed down to one of my children, but I’m curious about its history. What can you tell me about the Larkin Co. and Limoges China Co.?
A: John Durant Larkin (1845-1926) founded a soap factory in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1875. The first soap it made, Sweet Home Soap, was sold by street vendors. Larkin products eventually included several types of soap, cosmetics, perfume, pharmaceuticals and other items that were sold by traveling salesmen and through mail-order catalogs. The company began offering “elegant picture cards” as premiums in every box of soap in 1881. Later, handkerchiefs, towels, watches, silver-plated flatware, lamps, furniture and other premiums were offered. Sets of dinnerware were first offered as premiums in the 1893 catalog. The company went out of business in 1967. Don’t be confused by the word “Limoges” on your platter. It isn’t Limoges china from France—although Limoges china made by a French porcelain factory was offered as a Larkin premium in the early 1900s. The Limoges China Co. of Sebring, Ohio, was in business from 1900 until 1955. The company used various trade-names for its products during those years. It advertised pieces as “American Limoges” beginning in the late 1940s to avoid a lawsuit.