Q & A with Harry Rinker: Belmont Metal Products Dual White Enamel Washtubs

A reader is asking about this dual white enamel washtub setup. The tubs and are mounted on a metal frame and has a metal tag that reads: BELMONT METAL PRODUCTS, INC. / YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO.

QUESTION: I have a dual (double) washtub setup. The tubs have a white enamel finish and are mounted on a metal frame. There is a metal tag that reads: BELMONT METAL PRODUCTS, INC. / YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO.” I was wondering what my dual wash tub setup is worth.

– JT, via e-mail

ANSWER: After failing to find any information about Belmont Metal Products of Youngstown, Ohio, in an Internet search, I called the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County (305 Wick Avenue, Youngstown, OH 44503.) Within a few days, Librarian Sara Churchill of the Information Services Department e-mailed me more than 15 pages of documentation relating to the Porcelain Home Laundry Equipment Company, Belmont Metal Products’ predecessor, Belmont Metal Products, and the individuals involved in the companies.

Author’s Aside #1: As “Rinker on Collectibles” readers know, I am a huge fan of reference (information) librarians. These individuals are trained researches who often have access to local history collections in their reference area. I do not use reference librarians often enough.

Author’s Aside #2: I am providing a detailed history of Belmont Metal Products and its founders as a courtesy to future researchers. All information on the Internet has to start somewhere. Since my columns appear on multiple Internet sites, chances are a future researcher looking for information on Belmont Metal Products will find this reference on the first page of the URL listings.

City directories are an excellent source for tracking the origin and longevity of a business. Ms. Churchill conducted a search of Youngstown city directories for “Belmont Metal Products Co., Porcelain Home Laundry Equipment Co., Joseph Italiano, Anthony Mirto, and Thomas Reevely. The 1937-38 Youngstown City Directory contained a listing for “Reevely, Thomas P. – laundry tubs.” The 1939 Youngstown City Directory referenced “Porcelain Laundry Equipment Company / Reevely, Thomas P. & Mirto, Anthony P.” Belmont Metal Products Co., Inc. appears for the first time in the 1949 Youngstown City Directory and lists “A. P. Mirto, pres./treas; Joseph Italiano, v. pres; Wm Reali, sec.; laundry tub mfrs.” The last listing for Belmont Metal Products was in the “Enameled –Iron and Metal Sanitary Ware and Other Plumbers’ Supplies” in a 1954 Ohio manufacturer’s directory.

The Feb. 12, 1936 Youngstown Telegram contained Al Noderer’s article entitled “Whoa! Laundry Tub Maker Tells Lone Salesman As Orders Climb.” The article describes a business started by T. E. Reeveley to manufacture inexpensive movable porcelain laundry tub units. At the time of the article, the company was six months behind in orders. Reevley secured enamel washing machine tubs that failed to pass inspection from local washing machine manufacturers, plugged the holes in the bottom, mounted two of the tubs on a rack with free-moving castors, and sold them as laundry tubs. The product was branded “Rolls Rite.” Reeveley began production in October 1934 utilizing a small building located at 61 Saranac Avenue. The Porcelain Laundry Tub Co. was incorporated shortly thereafter. The firm eventually leased the Liberty School building located on Belmont Avenue.

The April 27, 1943 Youngstown Vindicator contains Thomas E. Reeveley’s obituary. The company had ceased operations. The production of new washing machines was curtailed because of war production. As a result, Reeveley could no longer purchase the rejected or obsolete tubs he needed to stay in business.

Author’s Aside #3: The city directories list the company as the Porcelain Home Laundry Equipment Company. Newspaper accounts use Porcelain Laundry Tub Company. Such confusion is common when doing historical research. There is no question that both are the same company.

The Dec. 8, 1946 Youngstown Vindicator contains an article entitled “Laundry Tub Assembly Plant Back on Job Under New Name.” Joseph Italiano and Anthony P. Mirto reorganized the company and named it Belmont Metal Products. A new concrete block plant, measuring 75 feet by 35 feet, was built on Belmont Avenue. A new addition was added within a year.

On Thursday, Feb. 22, 1947, fire resulting from a short circuit in an exhaust fan destroyed the Belmont Products Company’s plant located at 3825 Belmont Avenue. The loss was approximately $60,000. The company rebuilt and remained in business until the mid-1950s.

Your Belmont Metal Products dual (double) laundry tub setup was made between 1947 and 1954. When I received your initial e-mail inquiry, my first reaction was: how much of a secondary market could there be for double wash tubs? An eBay search revealed the market is much bigger than I expected. Asking prices ranged from $40 to a high of $175. Although most of the listings were for galvanized tub sets, there were a few porcelain sets listed. As always, my advice is to think conservatively. Your double laundry tub setup is worth around $50.

Ever the professional, Ms. Churchill ended her email with: “You may also want to contact the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library as Belmont Metal Products Inc. manufacturing plant was actually located in Trumbull County.” She also provided a URL.

The House of Webster began selling the Country Charm Model R59, a 120/240 VAC electric stove in 1957. Although the company ceased selling the stove decades ago, it still carries repair parts. The initial purchase cost of the stove was approximately $3,000

QUESTION: I own a “Country Charm,” an electric range that looks like an old-fashioned country stove. It is made by House of Webster, located in Rogers, Ark.. What can you tell me about it?

– B, Lancaster, Ohio

ANSWER: The House of Webster is still in business. Its website notes: “Since 1934, the House of Webster has been an expert in creating quality food products that embrace the senses with explosions of flavor… Operating out of Arkansas, and with outlet locations across North America, the House of Webster delivers all across the continental United States.”

The House of Webster began selling the Country Charm Model R59, a 120/240 VAC electric stove in 1957. Although the company ceased selling the stove decades ago, it still carries repair parts. The initial purchase cost of the stove was approximately $3,000.

There is a modest secondary market for the stoves. WorthPoint lists several examples, including one that sold on eBay on Nov. 18, 2007 for $199 plus shipping. Since the stove weighs more than 400 pounds, it is safe to assume the cost to ship it can easily exceed its purchase price. Currently, an eBay seller has an example listed with a “Buy It Now” price of $795. The seller dates the example from the 1970s. The seller has no interest in shipping the stove. The buyer has to pick it up at the seller’s location.

The cost to move a heavy object, whether it be a coin-operated Coca-Cola bottle dispensing machine or a player piano, influences what a buyer is willing to pay. The potential buyer always will deduct the moving estimate from the asking price.

When faced with such a situation, I advise a client to decide upon a minimum price that would make him/her happy and be glad he/she does not have to pay for shipping. If you want to sell the stove and assuming it works, I recommend taking any offer above $250. In terms of secondary market replacement value, you should be able to find an example in the $300 to $450 range plus shipping. However, my suspicion is that you are not looking for a second example to add to your collection.

QUESTION: I have a collection of more than 200 lemon plates. I recently broke a Noritake example that was a wedding present to my grandparents in the early 1900s. I would very much like to replace it. What are your recommendations?

– MB, Plantersville, Texas

A reader recently broke a Noritake lemon plate that was a wedding present to of her grandparents’ in the early 1900s. She would very much like to replace it.

ANSWER: The illustration that accompanied your email provides a number of clues that the plate dates from the 1920s or early 1930s. Its color scheme is Art Deco. The shape also is a favored 1920s/30s design.

I am somewhat baffled by “lemon plate.” While I assume there must have been specialized plates to serve lemons, I strongly suspect you meant to write “a collection of over 200 plates with a lemon design.”

I did an eBay search using “lemon plate.” Much to my surprise, I found an example that almost matched your broken plate on the first page. My suggestion is to use this search string to narrow the search: Noritake +lemon plate +loop handle.

It may take several months of checking before you find the replacement plate for which you are seeking. However, I have no doubt that you eventually will find it.

Rinker Enterprises and Harry L. Rinker are on the Internet. Check out Harry’s Web site.

You can listen and participate in Harry’s antiques-and-collectibles radio call-in show “Whatcha Got?” on Sunday mornings between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Eastern Time. It streams live on the Genesis Communications Network.

“Sell, Keep Or Toss? How To Downsize A Home, Settle An Estate, And Appraise Personal Property” (House of Collectibles, an imprint of the Random House Information Group), Harry’s latest book, is available at your favorite bookstore and via Harry’s Web site.

Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the 20th century. Selected queries will be answered on this site. Harry cannot provide personal answers. Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 5955 Mill Pond Court SE, Kentwood, MI 49512. You can e-mail your questions to harrylrinker@aol.com. Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered. Please indicate that these are questions for WorthPoint.

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