New in the collection: ‘Nifty gifty’ made in Hickory

Hyalin Dish shaped like North Carolina with Spruce Pines noted.

Verso of Hylan dish shaped like North Carolina, with "Emrich's State of the Union by Hyaln" stamped on it.

From 1946 to 1997, Hyalyn Porcelain was a prominent manufacturer in Hickory — well chronicled here by the

Catawba County historian and collector Barry Huffman suggests an answer:

“Hyalyn produced a series of these small pieces, apparently thinking of a series of states, although I have seen only North Carolina, Ohio and Texas. I believe it is likely Spruce Pine commissioned the application of the city name.

“Les Moody, founder of Hyalyn, chose Hickory in part because of its location near resources he would use to achieve the clay formula he wanted. Hyalyn purchased feldspar from [the Spruce Pine area] and surely had contacts there who were familiar with the kinds of things they made. [Georgia and Michigan have also been mentioned as sources.] This sort of object probably fell in the category of ‘nifty gifties,’ so named by employees.”

More here about Spruce Pine’s remarkable geology.


New in the collection: Paddle used by Hickory principal

Wood paddle shaped like a spoon with three holes in round part.

This oak paddle was used for corporal punishment by an unnamed principal at St. Stephens Elementary School (1933-2001) in Hickory, likely in the 1960s. Seventeen inches long with three drilled holes to reduce drag and thus increase sting. Shows use.

Previous owner believed it had been crafted from schoolroom furniture made by Southern Chair of Hickory, once billed as the world’s largest manufacturer of institutional furniture but later swallowed by Drexel Heritage and subsequent buyers.