170 plastic Decorator Panels in 19 groovy patterns — New Old Stock for sale in Austin

“…I promptly dropped my phone and fell
out of my chair” – Dustin, upon the discovery.

crysta lite decorator panelsBoom! Pow! Welcome to Monday morning: Here is a great find: 170 new-old-stock (NOS) of 6′ x 2′ plastic decorator in 19 patterns, found in Pennsylvania and now for sale near Austin, Texas. And a first for the blog: This story has a back story of murder, too.

crysta lite decorator panelsAccording to seller Dustin, who contacted me with his fabulous find:

The majority are “Shatterproof, indoor Saftiplass by Lancaster products Co., 4030 Freeman Blvd, Redondo Beach California.” Others are labeled “CRYSTA-LITE Decorator panels by Manchester Products Co. 8966 Mason Ave., Chatsworth, California…. They have been sitting idle, stored flat, covered, and untouched for 30-40 years. These were never used, still with the original stickers, and maintain the same fresh, vivid colors as the day they were made.

crysta lite decorator panelsYup, they look pretty vivid, all right. Please note, though, that I played with the image files, adjusting exposures, dialing up the black, etc. Check with Dustin (more info before) to get a sense of true colors, which area always difficult to capture digitally…

Update: In photo above, you can see that Guy has one of these in his house, which I featured on the blog in 2010. It’s just like Dustin’s green guy, only orange. It seems to be being used as the translucent side to a bookcase/cubby. Cool!!!

crysta lite decorator panelsFantastic.

crysta lite decorator panels

Dustin writes:

My father-in-law — who I will refer to as Yoda (consider me Luke) — is a picker in Central Pennsylvania. He called me one day (I’m the tech-savvy researcher) and asked if he should buy these panels. I asked him to send me a picture and I promptly dropped my phone and fell out of my chair.

crysta lite decorator panelsAs a fan of design (similar to an armchair quarterback) I realized these things were (1) very, very cool, and (2) a couple of searches led to the determination they are very rare. Further research determined that these were very popular in homes and restaurants from the 1940’s through the 1970’s, but the polystyrene panels have been out of production for decades.

crysta lite decorator panels I had him pull the treasure trove in an old Pennsylvania warehouse, where they have been sitting idle, stored flat, covered, and untouched for 30-40 years. These were never used, still with the original stickers, and maintain the same fresh, vivid colors as the day they were made.

crysta lite decorator panelsThe stack contains 19 or so patterns in a variety of colors, and we currently have multiples of each. They measure 6 ft. by 2 ft. and are approximately 1/8-inch thick. They are easy to cut with standard tools such as with a jigsaw, table saw, band saw, or circular saw, or they can be scored and snapped.

crysta lite decorator panelsThe majority are labeled “Shatterproof, indoor Saftiplass by Lancaster products Co., 4030 Freeman Blvd, Redondo Beach California.” Others are labeled “CRYSTA-LITE Decorator panels by Manchester Products Co. 8966 Mason Ave., Chatsworth, California.” Both companies went out of business long ago, and if you Google Manchester Products, you bring up an interesting story about the owners. [Pam takes the hint and investigates with the google: Yikes: In 1985, two brothers — who co-own the Manchester Products business with their mother — hire a killer to murder their parents The “Ninja Murders.”]

crysta lite decorator panelsWith the right lighting, the panels are breathtaking. They can be used as room dividers, restaurant booth privacy screens, made into lampshades, sun catchers, or to restore a vintage door or windows and more ideas I probably can’t wrap my head around.

crysta lite decorator panelsThe panels have made a trip to Austin, TX. Some have been sold, but we still have at least 170 of them in 19 of the 21 patterns we have pictured.

crysta lite decorator panelsPrices range from $75 (‘cloud’ and ‘bottle’ pattern) to $125 (stain glass/intricate patterns).  We’re asking $100 on the “psychedelic interwoven” pattern panels.  We based pricing off of a number of factors:
  1. Finding these is a challenge — the first buyer that contacted us has been looking for 13 years for these.  His grandfather was a ear, nose, and throat doctor and had these hanging in his office.  The gentleman still remembered them from when he was 12 years old (around 1970) and has been wanting to decorate his office with them but has been unable to find them until now.
  2. The only ‘comps’ (comparable panels) we found was acryllic panels – even plain colored 6′ x 2′ panels run around $150-$200.  When you get into the designs you’re talking several hundred dollars.
  3. We asked an owner and good friend whose shop specializes in vintage architectural materials and his determination is that they would sell between $12-18 per square foot retail.
The one challenge is shipping: these things are delicate and large, so shipping really isn’t an option, therefore we need buyers to pick up (I’m about 10 miles north of Austin in Leander, Texas) and have enough room to lay these flat if they purchase a large amount (over 2 panels).
.
–> Readers (interested in buying any of these panels) can feel free to contact me at sitdropspeak@gmail.com.
Thank you, Dustin, for sending in this tip — so glad you found us. Hey, how did you find us, I ask? Dustin responds:

Hey Pam,

We found you through a lady who purchased all three of the Morocan pink and yellow panels.  She suggested I let you know about them.  Separately, I knew about your blog through researching some 60’s folding shower doors (I have 10 of them still stacked in their boxes in the garage, from the same place we got the panels).
I didn’t put two-and-two together until the lady made that suggestion.  I’m sure glad I did!  Thanks again for all your help and for promoting such an awesome style!
Hey, Dustin, Send me pics of those shower doors. We wanna see those, too. Wanna keep up with Yoda and Luke’s adventures, check out Dustin’s blog: Sit Drop Speak.
Texas: Go get these panels, stat.

Get our retrolicious free newsletter.

Newsletter-sign-up-2NMAS

Comments

  1. AmyHM says

    My parents’ house was built in the early 1950s in Houston, TX. My dad had the same style mint green panel installed (only it’s a ombre color in our house) in the front window as well as door from house to garage. Those panels are still going strong and are wonderful to look at with the light coming in… just might have to take a trip to Austin and see these beauties in person (and score some for my 1960s Houston house!

  2. Chris says

    LOVE the blue panel with the overlapping circles! Just gorgeous! Not the right era for my house — not at all — but if I were anywhere near Texas, I’d be tempted!

  3. Diane says

    Yes Please post the Folding Shower Doors. I may be interested in them for the time capsule I have recently bought.

  4. Nancy Stevenson says

    OMG! NEAT-O! Love these, and I want!!!! But alas, I cannot have… :o(
    No where near Texas, and won’t be either! What a tease, but brought back some memories, for sure! Love seeing these, and thanks you’all!
    SOooooo Pretty… :o)

  5. Just another Pam says

    LOVE the green ones but way too far for me, le sigh. I’ve seen buildings built around the same time with similar designs. What a truly amazing find! How perfect is it that they end up in “keeping it weird” Austin?

    On Yom Kippur? Those are some bitter men and the prosecutors thought it was about money? Riiiight.

    • KM says

      Oh good, the Yom Kippur connection wasn’t just me. Because that seemed obvious- I can’t believe the prosecutors didn’t pick up on it. Day of Atonement- Hello?

  6. says

    These are super AWESOME! I love the green one with the little square designs! If only I had a place to put one and time to drive to Texas to pick it up….

    • says

      Jocelyn, I was thinking the same thing! We’re in PA too – and I’d love to get some of those for the screen porch we’re getting added to our little Hacienda.

      Maybe there are more somewhere to be unearthed for us East Coast folks!

      • Laura says

        I’m in Central PA. Our neighborhood dates from 1945-70s, and I’ve seen these panels in people’s windows!!! Oh I wish the stock were still close by, I’d snatch it up!

      • Jay says

        Yes, liking the green ones too! Some nerve, transporting them across country. Pam, does Dustin buy and sell mcm items? Also how did he transport them to Texas. Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Dustin says

      PA folks –

      If you are willing to drive to State College we may be able to send some of these back. For inquiring minds, I had Yoda bring these down here for a show in June, but happened upon the blog at the suggestion of a reader (who bought a few panels yesterday), contacted Pam, and here we are.

      So PA folks – email which panels you are interested in to sitdropspeak@gmail.com. I’ll discuss it with my father-in-law and let you know via email later on this evening.

  7. Victoria says

    I actually remember these designs from my childhood. We had some of the round green bottle glass design in our basement windows (later replaced by stained glass Contact paper.)

  8. Dustin says

    Hey Everyone!

    Thanks for your responses; it’s great to find a group of folks who appreciate this kind of architectural pieces. I will be responding to all the emails this afternoon; but wanted everyone to know that I have a day job I gotta uphold during business hours so I apologize if I haven’t gotten back to you. I’ll also post some answers to FAQs shortly.

    Thanks!
    Dustin

  9. Dustin says

    Hey Readers!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for the overwhelming response to these awesome panels. I have been trying to answer as many emails as possible, but I also have a day job that I have to maintain, so please be patient and I’ll get everyone the info requested and arrange viewings ASAP (most likely around 5 this evening I’ll be able to sit down and get back to everyone). To answer some FAQs:

    1. Because of the size and fragility of them, I am hesitant to ship them which is why we’re trying to sell local at first. If anyone has any suggestions as to how we could ship them I am open to entertaining suggestions. I have some ideas but want to check pricing to make sure it makes sense for all involved.

    2. The panels are currently at my house in Leander, Texas, which is 10 miles north of Austin off of 183. The locals that have contacted me will be getting returned emails shortly (in order received, of course) with times to come by this evening and next. Keep in mind that I can not hold panels as I am getting numerous requests for many of the same panels. I’ve played the ‘holding’ game before and it’s too risky to hold something for someone.

    3. I have uploaded most of the pictures, prices, and quantities of most of the panels at http://tinyurl.com/retropanels. Unfortunately we have sold out of the embossed green “picture” brick pattern, the Morrocan diamond-esque shape, and the green cut circles.

    4. I will get pictures of the folding shower doors out soon!

    Thanks again!

    Dustin

    • Dustin says

      Update for Pennsylvania/East Coast folks – Just got home and talked to the father-in-law. Ends up he didn’t bring all of them (sneaky _____). There was 40-50 or so pieces that had to have an edge cut off (1-2 inches or more; side or top) because they were chipped. They are various sizes from 3 ft to 5 ft. 10 inches. Our friend Joe has picked them up and is doing inventory this evening. If you are interested in picking some of those up please contact him at jpmaginnis@comcast.net and he will soon have an inventory of what is up there. Pick up would be in Lewistown, and prices will vary based on size.

      Again, he can bring some back if folks let us know tonight which ones they want. Just send me an email and assuming I don’t get washed away in the rain I will have them packed tonight for his 6 a.m. departure.

  10. colleen says

    I feel like crying. I have been looking for this kinda thing too. I have seen them advertised in older magazines. We need them in California, where they originated from. These are so beautiful and inspiring. Drat!

  11. Christa says

    I have an idea about shipping. Call around to local frame shops, glass shops and art supply stores. Boxes they use to ship plastic, glass, foam core and matte board might be repurposed for shipping your panels.

    • Dustin says

      Great idea! I am also talking to a couple of companies about freight costs. I will let the RetroRenavators know what I find out.

      Dustin

  12. G.G. says

    Thank you for bringing another great source to light. Some of these panels could be just perfect for an interior renovation project underway at our 1970s church.

  13. Jodi says

    I have two of those coke bottle bottom panels in yellow. They were in my uncle’s dentist office ever since I can remember. When he retired he gave them to me and I used them to create an entryway space in my living room. I still wish I could get some of these great panels though. I especially love the black ones with the green circles.

  14. Dustin says

    Thanks again to everyone for the awesome responses. Still working on shipping, but for you folks in Pennsylvania/East Coast and Austin – I have an updated inventory sheet (as of this afternoon) that I updated in pdf with location, pricing and quantities. Of course you’ll need Adobe Acrobat or the like to view, but I will update as I sell over the next few days. You’ll have to excuse the ridiculous names – I’ve had very little sleep. Hopefully from the description you’ll be able to get a sense as to what the panels look like.

    https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B0dpJt1Me7Sjdk1MX0VJREhOQ28

    We hope to open up a web shop soon as well as continue selling via eBay and start on Etsy. Of course I would prefer to sell outside of those, but Rome and a website are not built (correctly) in one day.

  15. Caroline says

    Holy cow!!! This is one of theise times I am SO happy I live in Austin!! Email sent in hopes of scoring a few of these beauties!

  16. Tracy Walters-Rogers says

    Hey there- I’m in Austin, TX and I want at least one if not moe!!! I’m redoing a 1950’s ranch bungalow!!Please please contact me.

    Thanks –
    Tracy Walters-Rogers

  17. Dustin says

    Hey Renovators!

    Wow, what a summer it’s been! Many folks from Austin and surrounding areas were able to snatch some of these beauties up for a variety of projects (hopefully they’ll send some pictures for Pam and I of their creative uses!). Alas, we no longer have any in our garage. I put the last ones on a truck to Denver a couple of weeks ago and I must say it’s like watching your children leave home :). However, my wife is (almost) able to park in the garage again….

    We DO have some of various sizes (and some new designs we found at an auction of the contents of an old hardware store in Pennsylvania) still in stock in Pennsylvania, and we discovered the beauty of Greyhound as a shipping auction a couple of weeks ago. So….you can view new inventory at tinyurl.com/augustpanels if you’re interested and contact me at sitdropspeak@gmail.com for a quote.

    Once again, thanks to those who purchased, who had great things to say about them, and most of all to Pam for running an awesome blog!

    Dustin and Yoda

    • Peg says

      So did whoever it was that bought them and took them to Denver plan on them for personal for personal use? Or was it a ‘dealer’ who might be re-selling them? Do you know?????

      Signed,
      Close enough to Denver

  18. Judy Meinhold says

    Pam, there are still some panels listed on ebay as Retro Mid Modern Deco Interior Designer Decorator Wall panels!

  19. says

    Hi Pam….
    I pulled this article up very recently because I’m helping a friend do research on writing a musical theatre show based on Hawaii. In my class we were discussing visual storytelling techniques used by the Hawaiians in their early cultures. One of the designs of these panels and your article instantly came to mind.

    When my partner and I were in Vegas, at an antique store, they had a few of the green panels shown in the 4th, 5th and 12th photos. (green and brown panels) With them, the store’s owner pointed out the petroglyphic type symbols and explained that these images actually told a story within the panel about Hawaiian life. They are designed to emulate that. If you look closely you can see fish and water and other symbols.

    Here’s my question. Is there anyone in your research that could take a second look at these panels and help you learn more about this? I think it’s a fascinating side to this story that could, in itself, make a nice feature for your blog and a nice addition to the wonderful things you do here for all us lovers of design.
    Thanks
    Take care
    TONY P

  20. Terri Smith says

    Hello,
    I came across your website. I have a tub-master sliding track 297.1-71 and need new doors. Do you have doors to sell?

    Do you know what model I can buy that would fit these tracks? I would hate to replace the tracks too. Help!

    Terri

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *