"20th Century Limited"

Designer: Henry Dreyfuss (American, New York 1904–1972 South Pasedena, California)

Manufacturer: Buffalo China (Buffalo, New York) (American)

Date: 1938

Medium: Earthenware

Dimensions: 1 1/8 x Diam. 10 5/8 in. (2.9 x 27 cm)

Classification: Ceramics-Pottery

Credit Line: John C. Waddell Collection, Gift of John C. Waddell, 2002

Accession Number: 2002.585.2


As a pioneering industrial designer in America, Henry Dreyfuss created a number of consumer products that were nearly ubiquitous in American homes: telephones, vacuum cleaners, and cameras were among his most successful designs. In the 1930s, railroad companies competed for passengers by upgrading their services. Dreyfuss designed every aspect of New York Central's luxury long-distance train, the 20th Century Limited, the name embodying its advanced technology and modernity. In addition to redesigning aspects of the train's exterior to give it a sleeker, more streamlined appearance, Dreyfuss attended to every detail of the interior, making it more efficient and comfortable. The result was a complete corporate branding, as well as a much improved train design. These dinner plates and letterhead, in coordinated shades of buff and taupe, project a unified vision of simple, elegant modernity, appropriate to a luxury train like the 20th Century Limited.