What is a Schleiger Number?
Once your Haviland china pattern has been identified by Schleiger Number you have everything needed to describe it to other collectors or dealers. But...
What is a Schleiger Number?
Long time collectors of Haviland dinnerware glibly toss about terms such as Schleiger #19 or Schleiger #266G as though they are the names of long time family members. And they are--or at least the china they represent, are!! Here is a "thumbnail sketch" of how the names Schleiger and Haviland china have become so intertwined in the Haviland collector's vocabulary.
In the late 1930's and early 1940's, Arlene Schleiger of Omaha, Nebraska was trying to find pieces to fill in her mother's set of china. Her quest took her to antique shops and used furniture stores. She found that many other people were on the same mission--and Haviland was the china most of them were searching for.
She began to purchase pieces of different Haviland patterns and quickly found that there was a need to have a common means or method to identify these different patterns since most Haviland pieces do not have a pattern name on them. Her good friends, Jack and Louis Drew, encouraged her to create a book or catalogue for identifying Haviland china.
From her searches and experiences in trying to identify the pieces she had collected, Mrs. Schleiger recognized and listed several problems confronting her:
She decided that a book with pen and ink drawings of the most distinguishing feature of the pattern would be the most satisfactory way of depicting the various patterns. Her son, Dick, was a student in the College of Architecture at the University of Nebraska. He drew the sketches of the patterns for Mrs. Schleiger's first book during his last two years in college.
Mrs. Schleiger's first book, Two Hundred Patterns of Haviland China--Book I was published in 1950. She assigned a number to the patterns as she entered them in her book. Thereby, the term Schleiger Number was born. (Each of her books really describe many more than 200 patterns since most of the patterns shown in the books have several variations listed. For matching purposes, each one must be considered to be a distinct pattern in order to precisely identify it. For example, if your pattern is Schleiger #33, you would not want Schleiger #33A--with the colors reversed--as replacement pieces. They are two distinct patterns).
Mrs. Schleiger continued collecting additional pieces of Haviland and Book II was published in 1952. Dick again did the drawings. Collectors and dealers were sending pieces of their patterns for identification and inclusion in her books. Book III was underway and Dick reported for active duty in the Navy. This radical change in his lifestyle did not stop the activity--Mrs. Schleiger boxed up saucers and shipped them to him.When the cruiser Dick was serving on would arrive at a port in the Far East, there was a box of Haviland china saucers awaiting him. Dick did the sketches of these in his state room during his off-duty hours and shipped them home at the next port of call. The remainder of the drawings for Book III were done after his discharge in 1954 and Book III was published in 1955.
Activity continued--four rooms in Mrs. Schleiger's basement were completely lined with six-inch shelving on which she displayed over 4,000 different pieces, mostly saucers, showing the many patterns listed in her books.
Book IV was published in 1960; Book V in 1974. Mrs. Schleiger retired from actively collecting patterns in 1976 but, along with her son Dick, and daughter-in-law Dona, continued to handle the books.
Mrs. Schleiger's collection of saucers were sold to another dealer after her retirement. Unfortunately, most of them were subsequently lost in a fire.
Dick had been attempting to re-establish the collection of saucers, an endless task. He had replaced 850 of the above mentioned 4,000, but he died in 2004.
The significance of Mrs. Schleiger's contribution to the world of Haviland dinnerware collecting cannot be overstated. Without her work we would still be describing patterns in terms such as "that one with the little pink rose and green leaves" instead of Schleiger Number.... She died in April of 1983 at age 77.
Dona Schleiger, continues the Schleiger tradition. Dona and Dick Schleiger published Book VI of Two Hundred Patterns of Haviland China in 1991. All six books are available from them.
NOTE: If you are looking to buy any of the Schleiger books, always buy the latest version as corrections were made over time. The Schleiger books also list the Factory numbers that were known at the time and match them to the Schleiger numbering.
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