You see people showing photographs of pretty white dishes and they refer to them as vintage or antique white ironstone.
For about 15 years, I have been collecting vintage dishes including antique white ironstone. Recently, I had some questions about my white ironstone collection and the timing was perfect to answer some of those questions in here in this blog post.
What is antique white ironstone?
White ironstone was developed in the early 19th century in Staffordshire, England. It was a less expensive alternative for porcelain China that could be mass-produced. White Ironstone made its way to American around the 1840s.
Why white ironstone?
Why not? The love affair with antique white ironstone began after seeing photos of in a magazine of someone’s collection. There was something beautiful about the antique white ironstone.
My first piece was a large wash pitcher found at a local vintage store. There was something about the love for seeking out these pieces at yard sales, markets, antique shops, online shops, or other antique dealers.
What do you know about white ironstone?
What I know, there are some manufacturers you will begin to recognize in collecting such as Johnson Brothers, Wm Adams & Sons, and Meakin and Adams. Most ironstone have a mark on the base so its age can be determine by referencing a collector’s guide-book. I found a great website about the history of white ironstone at White Ironstone China Association Inc. You can find out more information about identifying marks. I found their website to be very helpful.
There is absolutely no iron in ironstone. The name ironstone is probably due to the pieces being tougher than porcelain China.
My collection, you can see the colors that range from a blue-ish white to a more cream color. The early ironstone will be the blue-ish white. It’s because the cobalt was part of the earlier mix.
Crackling and brown blemishes in the finish of white ironstone is called crazing. Crazing happens from seepage of moisture combined with organic materials such as coffee, tea, dust, dirt, etc. makes its way through very small cracks in the glaze and penetrates the clay of the item. Many collectors like the look of the crazing of a vintage piece.
Can you remove brown stains from white ironstone?
Yes, you can remove brown stains on your ironstone only if the stain has not penetrated the clay. You would need to soak the piece in 3% hydrogen peroxide.
The piece would need to be completely submerged in the hydrogen peroxide for a couple of days. I have done this only to clean a badly stained inside of a pitcher. What I did was pour the hydrogen peroxide inside the pitcher and covered the top with plastic wrap. I let it sit for couple of days. Periodically, I would pick up the piece and give the inside content a swirl. After two days, I would rise the pitcher out with warm water.
Is white ironstone food safe?
This was a very good question. Although I use a lot of my vintage items, I do not serve food on my white ironstone especially if the piece shows sign of crazing, blemishes, chips, etc. Why? The glazing of the piece could be compromised and allow lead to seep into the food. I use my pieces of old vintage items for decorating or floral arrangement or keep items in that are not edible for safety reasons.
What pieces of white ironstone is in your collection?
My collection consists of ironstone pitchers in a variety of sizes from the large to small cream pitchers. The Large ironstone pitchers, you will see the designs will vary from very plain to ornate. Originally, the larger pitchers were used in washrooms.
I also have sugar bowls, cover dishes, pedestal, plates, and tureens. My soup tureen is one of my favorite pieces and it came with the original ladle. I was heart broken when accidently breaking it a few months ago.
What white ironstone pieces are the most expensive?
Tureens and Cake Pedestals. A complete tureen will come with the matching lid, the underplate (dish to catch spills) and ladle. Tureens are highly sought after and can be found from $75-exceeding $800.
The tureen that I have is not English but American Ironstone from Red Cliff, Chicago, USA (see photo below). This piece circulated in 1960 and is not super old like some of my other pieces from England that dates back in the early 1800s.
Another highly sought-after piece of white ironstone are cake pedestals. And they can be very pricey. If you come across a cake pedestal, you can expect to pay in upwards of $350+. Rarely, do I see white ironstone cake pedestals unless damaged priced less than $350. I have one pedestal but no cake pedestals. I keep hoping to stumble across one in a yard sale. You know when someone doesn’t know what they truly have and sells it for $5.
Sugar bowls, I will buy without the lid if it is missing. I love to put my pens and pencils or craft items in them.
The next time you are out treasure hunting, consider looking for great white ironstone pieces that you can incorporate into your home décor. The white color of these pieces will blend in with almost all color schemes within your home. Add some florals and place it on a bathroom vanity or side table. You will enjoy the piece for years to come.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. The opinions here are all my own.
White Ironstone for sale:
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Have a wonderful day, friend!