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Toothpick Didn’t Have Humble Beginning

That humble item, the toothpick, was once made in silver, gold and ivory, and it was considered quite proper to use it at the dining table after a meal.

An even more elegant variation was the 2 1/2-inch-long cylinder that contained a toothpick at one end and a little scoop at the other, that could be used for cleaning the wax from one’s ears!

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Museum Exhibit Features
Portland Chinese History

At one time, Portland had the largest China­town in the United States. It connected people and businesses across the state and across the Pacific Ocean.

Following the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition and Oriental Fair, and the building boom which followed, many Chinese merchants left the community they had built south of Burnside and reinvested in Northwest Portland near Union Station.

Although the Chinese were severely impacted by the federal exclusion law of 1882, they neverthe­less built homes, commercial enterprises and families whose legacies continue today.

A special exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society is “Beyond the Gate: A Tale of Portland’s Historic Chinatowns.” It will run through June 21.

The histories of these Portland neighborhoods has been reconstructed by curator Dr. Jacqueline Peterson-Loomis, in collaboration with Chinese community members.

Also on exhibit through June 1 is an exhibit on loan from the New York Historical Society, titled “Chinese American: Exclusion/­Inclusion.”

It details the effect of the 1882 law that shut the nation’s borders to exclude Chinese workers. A long and bitter contest over immigration and citizenship followed the enactment of this law. This struggle over freedom and the right to belong shaped the Chinese American experience.

The Oregon Historical Society is located at 1200 SW Park Avenue in Portland. For the list of programs accompanying these exhibits, visit the website: or phone (503) 222-1741.

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Lusterware Was Classy For
Special Occasions

Pink lusterware was a treasure in a household during the 1800s. It was only brought out to be used for company or special occasions in the family.

Lusterware is pottery or porcelain that has been decorated with a thin film of a metallic pigment that is often iridescent. It was painted on before a piece received its final firing. The decoration was either an all-over coating or a design of some type, against a white, cream or colored background. In addition to pink, lusterware came in silver, gold and copper.

Pink luster reached its height of popularity about 1850. The shades ranged from a pale mulberry color through rose to a sometimes strong purple hue. Sometimes it was used in combination with painting or enameling.

The strawberry pattern was an especially coveted one. A less sophisticated pattern was the cottage design. Although the cottages reflected different “architects,” the pattern always included a house or church, trees and a fence. Flowers and foliage were probably the most commonly used in designs, especially in tea sets. These also included designs that looked like crosshatching.

Another type of pink luster decoration can be described as mottled, marbled or splashed. This is also called Sunderland ware. The splashing came from spraying an oil on the wet luster after it was applied to the white ware, and before firing. The oil expanded in the kiln to form bubbles, which “exploded,” forming splashes or splotches.

The greatest variety of pink lusterware was found in the full tea sets. There were also, however, pink cow creamers (usually marbled,) jugs, pitchers, ewer and bowl sets, mugs and goblets, and a type of porcelain wall plaque that had a frame or marbled pink luster.

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