LIFETIME WARE: For a design as modern and forward-thinking as is Watertown's "Lifetime" plastic dinnerware, it is surprising that so little information can be found on it or the company that manufactured it.

What is known is that "Lifetime" was available for domestic use beginning in 1946; was designed by Jon Hedu; was honored with numerous design awards, including addition to the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art; was made out of melamine plastic (generic for Melmac); and received the "Good Housekeeping" symbol guaranteeing replacement or refund if the product did not perform as advertised. (Advertisements of the period indicate the product had a "2 year written guarantee against breaking, cracking or chipping.")

The earliest advertisement I have located is dated July 1947 (Crockery and Glass Journal); the earliest example I have found of it otherwise in print was as an entry in the "Look...It's New" section of "The American Home" magazine (September 1947).

"Lifetime" underwent many design changes: In the mid- to late-1950s, the original colors were supplemented with four translucent colors -- as well as patterns (at least 22 are known). Watertown introduced two variations on the original "Lifetime" line: Regency and Catalina. These carry the traditional back stamp; however, while many of the shapes remained the same, many pieces were redesigned. These changes came at a time when the plastic-dinnerware industry was desperately trying to retain market share in competition with traditional ceramic dinnerware.

This website focuses on the original designs, and will include only basic information on the later patterns, translucents and redesigned pieces.

All Watertown dinnerware molds were sold in 1960. Important note: It is possible to find properly stamped "Lifetime" shapes in other colors and patterns -- and even "Lifetime" pieces with backstamps from other companies and countries. However, these came after 1960 and are not considered part of the official Watertown production.

JON HEDU (1914 - 1995): Again, it is surprising that so little information can be found on the designer of "Lifetime." What scant information does exist merely refers to him as a "local artist." His designs for "Lifetime" were called "extremely advanced for their time." His concept of colorful, modern dinnerware that was attractive and unbreakable was considered "revolutionary."
Read biographical information on Jon Hedu. See other designs by Jon Hedu.

WATERTOWN MANUFACTURING CO.: Located at 500 Porter Street in Watertown, Connecticut, this company was created in 1915 and began by making items out of the earlier incarnations of what we now know as "plastic." The "Lifetime" line was considered one of its most successful products. Again, little information has been found about this company. It did produce at least four other lines of plastic dinnerware:
  • "Watertown Ware" a line produced for the military that, after the war, was released for domestic use
  • "Woodbine" a more elegant line featuring natural designs molded into the plastic
  • "Monterey" featuring some of the same shapes as "Lifetime"
  • "Balmoral"
Little additional information has been found on these other lines; but it is known that Jon Hedu designed all five.

You will find an overview of the company here.

You will find a history of Watertown's production of melamine tableware here.

Contents of this site (c) by Christopher G. McPherson. All rights reserved.

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