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The Polynesian Trade Winds Items
Article by Ray Stoll from FFCA's "Pot & Puma", Autumn 1996.

Reprinted by permission of Donna Frank, National Secretary
of the Frankoma Family Collectors Association

The Trade Winds, located at 51st Street and Peoria in Tulsa, was the first of the Trade Winds Motels. Later it became known as Trade Winds West. When it opened, the restaurant was called Club Trade Winds, and was Polynesian in concept and motif. (The management changed some years later, and it became The Tiki Nook.) It was originally planned to be the ultimate in Polynesian style restaurants, to surpass and become the superior successor to the then-popular Trader Vic restaurants.

The Trade Winds West
The Trade Winds West

Club Trade Winds followed Trader Vic's practice of serving exotic drinks in exotic containers that the customer took home, the cost of the container being included in the price of the drink. Frankoma was contracted (1960-1961) to furnish a number of appropriate pieces, and Joniece Frank designed these interesting items, with Father's assistance on the #T12 Bird of Paradise Pitcher and the #T11 Palm Leaf Platter (see February 1996 issue, "The Palm Leaf" on Page 16). The original beverage containers were the #T3 War God and #T4 Widow Maker Mugs, and the #T7 Coconut and #T2 Bamboo Tumblers. The reason these containers were so large is that Club Trade Winds could charge a whole lot of money for a whole lot of ice, while the customer felt he was getting his money's worth!

#T7 Coconut in Flame
#T7 Coconut in Flame

ItemsAs companion pieces to complete the Polynesian line, there was the Bird of Paradise Coconut Pitcher, the Palm Leaf Platter, #T5 Tiki God Salt and Peppers, #T8 Fish Ash Tray, #T9-7" Clam Shell Dish, #T10-13" Clam Shell Tray, and #T6 Tiki God Serving Bowl. The latter piece was half of a 3-sided coconut shell, held by three Tikis (Tikis same as #5 Tiki S&P), used not only to serve food, but drinks as well. It has what seems to be a little "foot" on the bottom, but if you'll look at the inside, you'll see that foot is actually a "well" that a tall highball glass fits down into. When the bartender set the drink down into the center, he then filled the bowl with ice, and the drink stayed chilled in its nest of ice. It also kept the glass upright as the ice melted and/or as the drink was consumed.

All of the original pieces, except for the Salt and Peppers, had "Club Trade Winds" on the bottom, along with either "Tulsa, Okla." and the stock number and/or the copyright symbol with "Frankoma" on the unglazed bottom. The Salt and Peppers have "Trade Winds" printed on their backs.

Joniece tells us that -as best she can remember- the original order was for 350 of each of the drink containers, with an appropriate number of the other pieces, probably 25 of the pitchers and platters, and maybe 50 each of the other pieces. She also says that she remembers only the one original order. If there were reorders, she says, they were very small, like a couple of dozen each of one or two items.

In the first few months, the theft rate on these beautiful pieces was so very high, it became cost prohibitive, and the Club Trade Winds could no longer justify continuing to use the Frankoma pieces.

As these were popular items, several of them were put into the Frankoma line for a short time. The #T3S War God Mug and the #T4S Widow Maker Mug were reduced in size (1967-1971) to become either vases or decorative drinking mugs, but only a small quantity was made.

In about 1971, Joniece became friends with two men who were starting a small Polynesian restaurant in conjunction with an after-hours club called The Cultured Pearl. With the encouragement of her father, Joniece made a few of the old Club Trade Winds items - perhaps 25 or so of some of the smaller items. Both the restaurant and this association were very short lived, and items with The Cultured Pearl marking are very rare.

Lee Woodward with John Frank, founder of Frankoma Pottery

Club Trade Winds
Frankoma founder John Frank with Tulsa TV personality Lee Woodward. Here's a close-up of the mugs.

Club Trade Winds matchbook

Lee Woodward's personalized "Sun Up" Frankoma mug today. From the Shock Theatre page.

For the actual Club Trade Winds order, the colors used were Woodland Moss, Prairie Green, Desert Gold, Onyx Black, Clay Blue, White Sand and Flame, although other colors - even Gracetone's Cinnamon - have been found. And remember, this was the time of brick red clay that produced the richest glaze colors. Some of both sizes of the Shell Dishes were lined in White, though most of the Club Trade Winds Shell Dishes were one color. When items were placed in the general line, all the colors then being used can be found.

#T3 War God in Cinnamon, courtesy of Sabu The Coconut Boy

Courtesy of Sabu The Coconut Boy. The middle mug is the Frankoma #T3 War God in Cinnamon.

(3/25/2003) Sabu The Coconut Boy said on Tiki Central:

Recently I had the good, good fortune to be able to buy a Frankoma "War God" mug from the old Club Trade Winds in Tulsa, OK. This was the large version of the War God in Cinnamon glaze, the #T3. (The one in the Book Of Tiki in Flame Red is the smaller #T3S). When it arrived I was truly astounded by it's size. Here is a picture of it, with some standard mugs next to it for comparison:

Best of all, the previous owner is the Manager and Photographer for a newsletter published by the Frankoma Family Collectors Association (FFCA). We corresponded a bit about the reasons I had bought the mug and when he found out I had other items from the Club Trade Winds restaurant and was a tiki aficionado, he sent me a newsletter with a great, informative article about all the items that Frankoma had produced for Club Trade Winds.

Courtesy of Sabu The Coconut Boy There's no way I can keep this article to myself - I've got to share it with you guys. There are tiki mugs and serving items here that I never knew existed, and they're all quite rare, evidently. Check out the Bird of Paradise Coconut Pitcher, the Tiki Bowl, and the Leaf Platter in the photos at the end of this post. I know I'm giving myself competition to find these items now, but I'd be happy if anyone from Tiki Central was able to acquire them, now that we know they came from a tiki restaurant. I already own a marked Giant Clam Shell tray and some unmarked Small Clam Shells and an unmarked Coconut Mug.

I know it's not much, but here's a photo of an ashtray I just purchased off eBay from the Trade Winds Motel chain in Oklahoma. I'm assuming this is the chain mentioned in the Frankoma article. The Tulsa location would have housed the Club Trade Winds restaurant. This ashtray may pre-date that.

All of the Club Trade Winds and the Cultured Pearl items are difficult to find, and are a very fine addition to any collection. However, the unmarked pieces are also certainly worthy of collecting. In short, keep your eyes open for these unusual and beautiful examples of Joniece's artistry and inventiveness - truly a collector's prize!

My thanks to Joniece Frank for her invaluable assistance with information contained in this article.

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